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  • PTS Cost Estimating Document SampleHow would a data center manager proceed if he or she were charged with creating a cost estimate for a data center renovation or new build?
  • Would he look for comparable facilities and try to get information about their construction costs?
  • Would he seek information that would allow him to benchmark the cost of hitting key performance specifications?

Developing a budget for a data center, computer room, or server room upgrade or new build requires understanding an array of items related to the facility supporting infrastructure costs, mechanical & electrical design and engineering costs, commissioning costs, and construction costs. However, in order to understand the size, type of power and cooling density required, and then the engineering and build, data center operators and senior IT and facility managers need to take a step back and fully understand the requirements of IT infrastructure both when the facility opens and several years down the road.

Data center and/or computer room budgeting or cost estimating are accomplished by identifying the key design criteria for the two (2) main areas of the project focus within the overall data center infrastructure and services, the Technology Infrastructure & Services (IT) and the Support Infrastructure & Services (the Facility). The key design criteria are:

Key Design Criteria

Availability Requirements

Power & Cooling Density

Business Objectives

Infrastructure & Services

Infrastructure & Services

Data Center Project Budget

Since a data center project typically involves base-building design, Site Selection must also be included as a criterion placed on the overall design.

A computer room project, on the other hand, can be as involved as a project within a bigger base building project or as simple as a relocation and/or upgrade of an existing computer room within an established building space.

PTS’ Data Center & Computer Room Cost Budgeting Service is delivered as part of the Plan step in the even (11) step progression of the data center project process. To perform this service a feasibility design is required. In addition, PTS’ needs and survey services are typically prerequisites before being able to deliver a solid data center cost estimate for an upgrade or new build.

Data Center Project ProcessData Center ConsultingData Center Design and EngineeringData Center ProductsData Center ConstructionData Center CommissioningData Center ImplementationData Center Monitoring and ControlData Center Operations and Maintenance

Availability Requirements
The first milestone in creating a data center project budget is to determine the Availability Requirement for the facility. While it is common practice to state the need for 7x24xForever availability, the steep cost curve associated with delivering on this expectation must be realized. PTS’ data center classification system is based, in part, on the Uptime Institute’s tier classification system.

Power & Cooling Density
The next step in defining a project budget is to determine the Power Density to be used as a basis for design. The power density can be described as the amount of power delivered to the critical load per unit of area and is directly related to the amount of heat that must be removed via the computer room air conditioner (CRAC) systems. In general, PTS defines power density in terms of Rack Location Units (RLUs). In a typical data processing environment each RLU dissipates 1,500 to 4,000 watts. However, network RLUs, 1U server RLUs, and blade server RLUs consume considerable more power, and therefore dissipate considerably more heat. The uneven distribution of RLU power density is becoming ever more commonplace, and is the number one obstacle in present day data center design.

Business Objectives
The final design criteria component of the project budget is the cost associated with achieving the Business Objectives for the facility. Selection of the network services delivery is what drives the final selection of all network, security, server, storage, access, communications, and monitoring infrastructure to be deployed within the facility. Ultimately, this equipment is the critical load that must be supported by the supporting infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the space requirements for a computer room project are often previously dictated by management and/or the project architect. This complicates the design by restricting the power & cooling density strategy utilized as a criterion. Inevitably, this also increases the overall cost of the project.

Technology Infrastructure & Services (IT)
data center cost estimatingAs shown in the chart at the top of the page, in the design process, data center infrastructure and services are broken down into Technology and Supporting categories for budgeting purposes. The Technology Infrastructure & Services budget is determined by working with IT personnel to identify the existing systems and growth projections, evaluate planned upgrades and improvements, and quantify financial constraints; as well as to correlate how each relate to the core business strategy they support. The technology infrastructure & services budget includes the following elements:

Support Infrastructure & Services (the Facility)
As previously discussed, the Support Infrastructure & Services budget is determined by considering the technology infrastructure, power density, and availability requirement. In general, the higher the power density and/or availability, the greater the support infrastructure required and thereby the higher the overall cost. Within the overall data center infrastructure plans, the support infrastructure & services budget includes the following elements:

  • Project Management
  • Support Infrastructure Systems Design, Engineering & Construction
  • Architectural Design & Construction
  • Support Infrastructure Systems (Power, Cooling, Fire Safety, Architectural, etc.)

Summary for Data Center Cost Estimating
Now that we have the Availability Requirements, Power and Cooling Density, Business Objectives, IT Requirements, and Facility Supporting Infrastructure Requirements, we can complete a Data Center Feasibility Design and, therefore, a Cost Estimate for the upgrade, renovation, or new build. Together, these items are called the Key Design Criteria and lead to the determination of:

  • Space requirements
  • Budget requirements
  • Time requirements

It is difficult to generalize the data center technology infrastructure budget since so much depends on the type of business, the platform utilized, and so on. However, it is not uncommon for the project budget to be ten-of-thousands of dollars per RLU, or thousands of dollars per square foot of raised floor space.

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