Challenges Data Centers Face: Build New or Utilize What’s Available?

HaqBy Mohammed Haq, P.E.

The evolution of data centers is ever-changing.  As requirements evolve, data centers are ranging from being located in a 10×20 closet to a large 100,000 SF building.  In addition, the technology associated with data centers is growing at a high rate as more people utilize smart phones, tablets, and computers, creating a push for more storage capacity and higher computing requirements.  Owners are now dealing with the challenge of how to expand their existing data center while preparing for future growth.

It’s a key decision most data center owners will face in the next couple of years.  Should you retrofit, build, collocate, or move to the cloud, each has its benefits and own inherent risks and costs.  By first understanding the growth plan of your business and data processing needs, you can then determine the right mix of solutions.

There are three factors owners need to consider when making the decision:

1)   Understanding the business requirements; are you going to be storing high media data, or high power computing?

2)   Understanding the IT requirements for type of computers used, blade servers, and fiber optic availability.

3)   Evaluating data center capacity, from footprint to storage capacity.

Based on these parameters, owners are able to make a sound decision of upgrading the existing data center, building a new data center, or outsourcing to collocation sites.  These three parameters all have a cost, cash flow, and strategic factor involved, and are all inherently unique to the decision being made.

In order to manage the Capital and operation expense, you have to look at deployment flexibility vs. operational efficiency vs. capacity management.

Consider the following:

  • Overdesigning to provide lots of capacity.
  • Provide a DCIM solution to manage the assets and productivity of the equipment.
  • Manage the cooling efficiency by providing cooling support for what is inside the machine not the room.
  • Provide power technology with plug and play, smart equipment rack level power distribution units (monitor and report), overhead busways.

The other factor that drives the owner to look at options for their data center is facility consolidation, merger acquisitions, corporate moves, aging of the infrastructure, power, space and/or cooling limitations, and lease expirations/renewal.  These factors play a major role in order to make the right decision.

When making a decision to move your data center forward, make sure you have a good processes set in place and don’t be afraid to make revisions to the process.  Hold yourself and others accountable, communicate your goals to ensure everyone understands and abides to good processes, accountability, and communication.  Always welcome and embrace the changes as they will continuously evolve.

Once the decision is made and all stakeholders have bought into the end solution, assemble the appropriate team members, from consultants, contractors, and managers, and start the initial movement towards your new data center!

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