Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Choosing right partners for data center design

This is an article about developing a new facility as a small- or medium-sized data center company who don’t have the same resources as large operators like Amazon, or companies who build data centers as their core business.

Let’s take a look at choosing development and design partners. You may want to design and build your facility yourself, but there are many advantages to working with partners so you can stay focused on your customers while still meeting the goals for your new facilities.

Why you need a development partner?

As a small- or medium-sized data center company, a development partner can take a lot of the headaches out of your new build. Organizations dedicated to designing and building data centers will jump at the chance to work with you, provided you have something to bring to the table (namely, tenants, and/or incentives). These companies can help you:

- Avoid time sinks of non-growing your company tasks
- Address unforeseen obstacles in the build process
- Stay committed to your daily activities of keeping customers happy
- Raise capital investment or soften capital pressures
- Help guide the designers, construction managers, subcontractors, etc.

You believe your service level helps you stand out from the pack, so you wanted to remain focused on serving your customer base with data center operations and management, rather than acting as landlords and or running around trying to raise capital.

In-House vs. Outsourced Building Design

Designers help you think about the impacts of every decision, avoiding pitfalls that you might not avoid yourself, like investing in too much electrical infrastructure, for instance. You may have a solid internal team already. Large companies might have designers on staff, and small companies might take one look at the quotes coming in and decide they can handle it themselves. After all, operators deal with equipment day in and day out — they can probably figure out a new building, right?

But your partner, design consultant, is critical to bring the whole team and pieces together. It focuses on flexibility, low cost, high reliability and energy efficiency. Many of these attributes can be at odds with one another unless you have a good design consultant who will keep hammering it out with you.

Imagine if you want to put generators for the new building, you will think of sound levels and vibration inside the white space itself. But generators are just one of many things to keep in mind when designing a new facility: “How tall are the walls?” “How big are the bays?” “What kind of flooring do you put in?”, etc...

Designers give extremely important insights into facility builds, but only you know about the needs of your customers and employees (and of course just how much of an investment is bearable or realistic). Usually, it’s a math problem, not an unsolvable problem, and good designers will want to find the sweet spot between budget realities and facility requirements.

Unforeseen Obstacles

Another case is that we have our eye on a site, and we think we know the space the building required. We estimate cooling, generator, parking, and other exterior space requirements based on our existing facility, so we sure our potential site has more than enough space for a 35,000-square-foot facility. Done!

But what we don’t realize is the new building is big enough to require a water storage tank and runoff area. Thankfully, you got guidance from your partner consultant before going through with any purchase. Without an experienced design partner, you would not have known that you needed to increase the size of the plot.

Ultimately, every company has to decide for itself if development and design partners are worth the expense. Speaking from experience, you are glad that you had someone to consult with prior to your land purchase. These partners can save you time and money in the end.

About The Blogger

Strategic Media Asia (SMA, www.stmedia-asia.com) is a leading technical training and event organizer for corporations specialized in data center design & build, E&M facilities, telecom, ICT, finance and colocation. Currently, SMA delivers a series of data center trainings and qualification programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

All these events / training seminars are designed to support the leadership needs of senior executives (Chief Information Officers, IT Directors / Managers, Facilities Managers, company decision makers, etc.) and to provide useful and applicable knowledge.