With the size of stored data increasing at an astronomical rate, there’s no question that the data center market is booming – no matter whether it’s an on-site data center, a colocation site, private/public cloud, or a hybrid mixture of each. The specific how’s and why’s of data center construction are varied, but one thing is certain: building a data center takes money, expertise, and careful planning. Of the many considerations before undertaking a project of this magnitude, we have listed below some of the primary areas in which to focus. This will help your data center construction project start off on the right foot, with a strong foundation towards its utility and future success.
Top Things to Consider Before Starting a Data Center Construction Project:
- Electrical Load– It is important to consider both the day-one electrical load of the IT equipment, as well as the maximum load required for the entire site once fully built out. This electrical load is represented in kW and is utilized to size all of the electrical and cooling infrastructure that will be required at each phase of the development of the site. Load bank testing will later identify faults under critical loads, as part of data center commissioning.
- Availability– Availability measures the degree which a system or component is in an operable state. How much redundancy, then, will be built into all of the supporting infrastructure? This includes things like: generators, utility service, UPS, batteries, air conditioning, and more. Further, there are many approaches to redundancy including N+1, 2(N+1), N+N, and more. Choosing the ideal redundancy is a delicate balance of cost versus performance.
- Density– Density refers to how much electrical energy is consumed by all of the IT equipment in a particular rack or cabinet and converted to heat. One (1) watt-per-hour consumed is one (1) watt-per-hour dissipated as heat. The main consideration here is: as density increases per cabinet unit, the approach to air conditioning becomes more complex, and therefore, more appropriate.
- Budget– Before handing off the project to an architect or engineer, it is necessary to complete a comprehensive preliminary planning called a conceptual design. From this design, a detailed budget can be established for not only the equipment, but also for all of the professional and construction services, as well as for commissioning services that will be required. Making changes at this stage in the project is far less impactful to the bottom line.
- Construction Approach– What type of construction approach do you want to take? Will it be a “design/bid approach”, or a “design-build approach” (which integrates both the design and the construction phases)? While the latter usually offers a better solution at a lower cost, there’s typically more risk for both the design-build contractor, as well as the client.
- Data Cabling– Many companies overlook the impact that data cabling will have on their budget; don’t make this mistake. Data cabling budgets need to consider everything from the manholes outside the building, to the entry rooms inside the building, to the distribution to “meet-me” rooms, MDFs, IDFs, and the like. There is also data cabling beyond the data center suite: there is the office data cabling, wireless access, PoE LED lighting, and all of the other things that connect via data cabling today.
- Connectivity– Similar to data cabling, the same approach applies for all of the service providers providing connectivity to your clients. This very much relates to the meet-me room, and how the distribution of connectivity will be to your data center clients.
- Physical Security– Physical security is typically accomplished concentrically, from the property perimeter, including the building and parking lot, to the areas inside the building. Inside areas include: the building entrance security, the front desk, hallways, locked doors, and individual digital access to suites, cages and important spaces all the way down to the cabinet. Video surveillance may also play a part, as well as digital access systems.
- Monitoring and Control– Building monitoring and control also drive cost. BMS (Building Management Systems) and/or BAS (Building Automation Systems) relate to how the facility support infrastructure will operate. Energy management is an important consideration for these systems. In a data center where uptime is paramount, these systems are vital. Likewise, DCIM software-based tools are important from the IT operator’s perspective; they provide answers to where there is open space availability within a data center floor, including both electrical distribution, as well as cooling.