In the multitenant data center space, it is valuable for owners, designers/engineers, general contractors and facility/IT managers to consider new ways to address such needs.
Challenges and current scenarios
As a designer/engineer, how do I design the colocation data center site properly around the site owners’ many IT infrastructure needs and requirements based on data center footprint, i.e., application design for high availability, reliability, redundancy, and uptime? How do I make sure my reputation/revenue for my engineering services is not impacted by potential risks or delays in the project? How do I eliminate additional, unnecessary work from the design/engineering of a project?
Current scenario: Designer-Engineer
Ensuring that every aspect of a multi-tenant project is accounted for in the design/engineering plans is a key responsibility of the designer and engineer. It is their job to ensure that the data center is constructed to create revenue for the owner and protect the valuable assets of their customers (i.e., the colocation data center owners).This includes having all the information they need from owners, IT and facility stakeholders to ensure that the data center is constructed for uptime and reliability, and has the correct integrated software/technologies incorporated to provide real-time visibility for the data center owner.
They know that their customer, the colocation data center owner, cannot afford downtime. Designing a reliable, redundant infrastructure is essential to minimize that risk for downtime. This means making sure the site is secure; that there is proper equipment placement and operation in a mechanical or electrical room; proper use of free cooling to prevent data center hotspots which could lead to downtime, and more.
The challenge in accounting for all of this is that pulling all of that necessary information and data at the beginning of a project is cumbersome. A designer or engineer may not get commissioning scripts, scopes, statements of operations from owners until late in the project. Or they may not get the necessary resources they need to plan/spec/design a project in their timeframes. Without the necessary information, it is not possible to design a project plan accordingly based on what the owner’s timeline may be. On top of all of that, a designer and engineer has to account for whether a multi-tenant data center owner wants their site to meet a specific "Tier" certification (e.g., Uptime Tier certifications). Some end-users, who are more educated on colocation data center providers' site capabilities before they sign a lease and move in, look for such data center certification. And such demands can be cascaded down by the data center owner to the designer/engineer on a project.
As a general contractor, how can I get more jobs because my price is competitive and how can I stay within my set project budget? How can I better stay on project schedule to prevent added cost? How can I ensure quality and smooth, timely project turnover to my customer (the colocation data center owner)?
Current Scenario: General Contractor
If a general contractor is rushed on one job, imagine the consequences of rushing on two or three jobs at the same time.
Frankly, the traditional approach to construction is not helping general contractors get to market faster or more effectively. And if they want to grow at the rate they need—while maintaining or even exceeding customers’ quality expectations, general contractors may need to start thinking about new approaches to construction, such as applying integrated design principles and approaches, even integration and automation.
In short, it’s time to shuffle the deck.
As a colocation data center owner, how can I manage my business growth in the rapidly growing colocation market? How can I increase revenue and be profitable? How do I differentiate myself in the market?
Current Scenario: Colocation Data Center Owner
Although the colocation data center market is growing, the construction process is not keeping up or evolving. In fact, it’s taking a significant amount of time to not only get facilities open for business, but to move tenants in.
Many phases of the construction process have complex interdependencies—from wiring and factory witness testing (FWT) to automation and commissioning. Adding to that complexity, stakeholders such as colocation data center owners are holding onto decades-old practices and sequences that once worked. Now, those sequences are not only holding back their timelines and scalability, they’re also preventing colocation data center owners from securing new tenants and maintaining leases on their existing customer base.
As a data center manager or corporate facility manager, how can I maintain uptime? How can I simplify the maintenance of my building's systems and equipment, knowing that I am challenged with limited/decreased skilled engineering staff? How do I reduce CAPEX and OPEX knowing that I have a limited budget?
Current Scenario: Colocation Data Center Manager
The harsh reality is, if a facility manager's data center experiences an outage, his job is on the line. It is their job to ensure that all of the tenants of the colocation data center facility have adequate provisioning of power and cooling, and that the facility is safe and secure. Many systems and pieces of equipment must operate in unison in order to keep things running smoothly.
But with the number of systems and advancing technology, the complexity of managing a data center facility is increasing. Site walk-throughs and manual processes to ensure 24/7 operation consume both time and monetary resources, yet are necessary in most cases to maintain constant uptime. An undetected, minor failure in one area or system in the facility may be the root cause of a full-blown data center outage that negatively impacts your business and the businesses of tenants housing their data center operations in a colocation data center facility.
With the large number of systems and pace of advancing technology, the complexity of managing a data center facility is increasing. Facility staff may struggle to efficiently and effectively maintain many systems individually. Finding space for individual controls for these systems can be difficult as well (e.g., wall space for panels). As this becomes more looming of an effort, tighter integration (power, cooling, building automation, fire, security, IT) is a must. Add to this the fact that many data center managers oversee multiple sites whose management systems come in all shapes and sizes. And as the tenants' business needs change and grow, a facility manager’s staff must be quick, able and agile to cost-effectively support the maintenance and expansion of your facility to provide power and cooling to the right cages or cabinets in the white space.
Finding smart ways to prevent data failure should be a top priority for colocation managers. The integration of systems provides increased visibility, streamlines and simplifies preventative and predictive maintenance.
A way you could simplify some of the work and information you need/receive to account for in your design/planning specification if the commissioning piece of the project could be pre-integrated, pre-tested and pre-configured? A pre-engineered approach that provides for an entirely vetted or factory-witness test of the automation systems (BMS, DCIM, and EMPS with third-party software) early in the process? A way to achieve the speed-to-market you need while also reducing engineering time, ordering time, and cost?