Data Center Build Out: 10 Essential Tips for 2024 Success

by | May 18, 2024

Data Center Build Out: 10 Essential Tips for 2024 Success

 

Introduction

Data center build out is a critical task that demands careful planning and execution. Whether you’re a mid-to-large size business in healthcare or a sector with significant data requirements, the necessity for a reliable and efficient data center cannot be overstated.

For those looking for a quick overview:

  • Overview: Understanding what a data center build out involves.
  • Importance: Why building a data center is vital for business operations.
  • Scope: The different phases and key components involved in the construction process.

The health of your data center affects the health of your business. Effective data center build out means integrating the right infrastructure to ensure high performance, reliability, and compliance with industry standards.

“70% of data center outages are caused by human error.” – Uptime Institute Survey. This startling fact underscores the importance of a well-designed and correctly managed data center build out. A meticulously planned build-out reduces risks, safeguards against downtime, and enhances overall business efficiencies.

When you embark on constructing a data center, you’re not just assembling a building with servers; you’re creating the backbone of your company’s digital operations. This process touches upon various critical aspects from site selection, electrical systems, cooling infrastructure, to robust security measures. This guide will walk you through the essentials, ensuring your pathway to a successful data center build out is clear and efficient.

Infographic: Key Steps in Data Center Build Out - Planning, Design, Construction, Testing - data center build out infographic step-infographic-4-steps

Understanding Data Center Build Out

What is a Data Center Build Out?

A data center build out involves creating a specialized facility designed to house IT equipment that powers business operations. It’s more than just putting servers in a room; it’s about crafting a space that meets specific needs for power, cooling, security, and scalability.

Purpose: The primary goal of a data center build out is to ensure that the IT infrastructure can support business operations reliably and efficiently. Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, a well-designed data center can enhance performance, reduce downtime, and scale with your needs.

Components: A typical data center build out includes two main aspects: the facility and the IT infrastructure within it.

Key Components of a Data Center

Facility

  1. Space: Ensure ample floor space to accommodate current and future IT infrastructure. The space should be strategically located with considerations for taxes, accessibility, and future expansion.
  2. Power: Reliable and clean power is crucial. Data centers often require up to 100 megawatts. Include renewable and auxiliary power sources to ensure continuous operation.
  3. Cooling: Effective cooling systems are essential to manage the heat generated by IT equipment. Conventional HVAC systems and innovative cooling technologies like liquid cooling can be used.
  4. Security: Implement controlled access using employee badges, video surveillance, and other tactics to protect the data center from unauthorized access.
  5. Management: A Building Management System (BMS) helps monitor and manage temperature, humidity, power, and security in real-time.

Infrastructure

  1. Compute: Servers and processors form the heart of the data center, handling all computational tasks.
  2. Storage: Data storage solutions like SSDs and HDDs are crucial for storing business data securely and efficiently.
  3. Network: Robust networking equipment ensures seamless data transfer and connectivity. This includes switches, routers, and cabling.
  4. Cooling: Beyond the facility’s cooling systems, rack and aisle containment solutions can optimize airflow and cooling efficiency.
  5. Power: Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), backup generators, and PDUs ensure that the data center remains operational even during power outages.
  6. Security: Cybersecurity measures, firewalls, and physical security systems safeguard the data center from threats.

Data Center Components - data center build out

By understanding these key components, you can ensure that your data center build out is robust, scalable, and efficient. Each element plays a crucial role in maintaining the overall performance and reliability of your data center.

Next, we’ll dive into the strategic planning and design aspects to ensure your data center meets all necessary standards and requirements.

Planning and Designing a Data Center

Importance of Strategic Planning in Data Center Construction

Strategic planning is essential for a successful data center build out. It involves making critical decisions about site selection, layout planning, and standards compliance. Each step ensures that the data center will meet the specific needs of your business and operate efficiently.

Site Selection

Choosing the right location for your data center is crucial. Look for areas with reliable power supply, low risk of natural disasters, and proximity to your business operations. Consider the availability of high-speed internet and other utilities. A well-chosen site can significantly reduce operational risks and costs.

Layout Planning

A well-thought-out layout maximizes space and efficiency. Plan for adequate room for servers, storage, and networking equipment. Consider segregated or compartmentalized spaces to optimize cooling and power usage. This approach can reduce energy costs and improve overall performance.

Standards Compliance

Adhering to established standards ensures your data center meets industry best practices. Compliance with these standards can enhance reliability, security, and efficiency.

Adhering to Data Center Standards

Several standards guide data center design and construction. Incorporating these standards from the planning phase can help you build a resilient and compliant data center.

Uptime Institute Tier Standard

This standard defines four tiers of data center reliability. Each tier specifies requirements for infrastructure redundancy and availability. For example, a Tier IV data center offers the highest level of fault tolerance and uptime.

ANSI/TIA 942-B

This standard covers all aspects of data center design, including planning, construction, and maintenance. It includes four levels of reliability ratings and is implemented by BICSI-certified professionals. Compliance with ANSI/TIA 942-B ensures your data center meets high reliability and performance standards.

EN 50600 Series

Focusing on IT cable and network design, the EN 50600 series incorporates redundancy and reliability concepts similar to the Uptime Institute’s Tier Standard. This standard is particularly useful for European data centers.

ASHRAE

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) provides guidelines for data center cooling and environmental conditions. Following ASHRAE standards can help optimize your cooling systems, reducing energy consumption and costs.

Plan, Design, Assess

  1. Plan: Start with a clear understanding of your business needs and future growth. Define the scope, budget, and timeline for your data center project.
  2. Design: Create detailed architectural, structural, and MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) drawings. These documents will guide the construction and ensure all aspects of the data center are well-coordinated.
  3. Assess: Regularly review and assess your plans to ensure they align with your goals and industry standards. Make adjustments as needed to address any challenges or changes in requirements.

By following these strategic planning and design steps, you can build a data center that is efficient, reliable, and scalable. Next, we’ll explore the phases of data center construction and best practices to ensure a smooth build-out process.

Constructing a Data Center: Phases and Best Practices

Core and Shell Construction

When constructing a data center, the core and shell form the foundational elements. This phase involves creating the primary structure using materials such as concrete and steel.

Concrete offers superior thermal mass, fire resistance, and resilience against natural disasters. It’s often more affordable initially. Steel, on the other hand, provides a higher strength-to-weight ratio, making transport easier and offering flexibility in design and future expansion. However, steel requires additional fire protection measures.

Key Steps in Core and Shell Construction:

  • Piling and Foundations: The building must handle the weight, vibration, and heat dissipation of the data center equipment. This involves soil testing, selecting the appropriate foundation type, and ensuring soil compaction and stabilization.
  • Erecting the Structure: Using a combination of concrete and steel, the core structure is erected to provide a robust framework for the data center.
  • Shell Construction: This involves creating the exterior walls and roofing, ensuring they are resilient and secure.

Critical Infrastructure Installation

After the core and shell are complete, the focus shifts to installing critical infrastructure. This phase is crucial for the operational efficiency and reliability of the data center.

Materials Procurement: Extended lead times for vital equipment like UPS systems, PDUs, generators, switchgear, transformers, and CRAH units can delay construction schedules and increase costs. It’s essential to plan and order these materials well in advance.

Workforce Management: Efficient workforce management ensures that skilled labor is available at the right times. This includes setting up temporary structures like site offices and storage areas, and implementing site access controls.

Project Milestones: Establish clear project milestones to track progress and ensure timely completion. Regular assessments and adjustments help keep the project on track.

Key Components in Critical Infrastructure Installation:

  • Substations: Crucial for stepping down high-voltage electricity to usable levels within the data center.
  • Fuel Storage: Ensuring an adequate supply of fuel for backup generators.
  • HVAC Systems: Installing systems like CRAH units and air-cooled chillers to manage heat dissipation and maintain optimal operating temperatures.
  • Security Systems: Implementing physical security measures such as surveillance cameras and access controls to protect the data center.

By focusing on these essential aspects during the data center build out, you can ensure a robust, efficient, and scalable facility. Next, we’ll explore innovative technologies and strategies to optimize data center performance and efficiency.

Optimizing Data Center Performance and Efficiency

Innovative Cooling Technologies

Effective cooling is crucial for data center performance. Traditional HVAC systems are just the beginning. Advanced cooling methods can make a big difference in efficiency and cost.

Hot/Cold Aisle Containment: This method involves arranging server racks in alternating rows with cold air intakes facing one aisle and hot air exhausts facing another. This setup prevents hot and cold air from mixing, making cooling more efficient. According to TechTarget, using containment strategies can significantly reduce energy costs.

Liquid Cooling: For high-density data centers, liquid cooling is a game-changer. Systems like rear door heat exchangers or direct-to-chip cooling remove heat more efficiently than air-based methods. For instance, the ChilledDoor by Motivair uses water to cool servers directly, reducing the need for extensive HVAC systems.

Alternative Cooling: In cooler climates, consider free cooling, which uses outside air to cool the data center. Water-cooled chillers, or economizers, can also supplement or replace HVAC systems, reducing energy consumption.

Power Efficiency and Backup Solutions

Managing power efficiently is key to running a cost-effective data center. Let’s break down some strategies.

Power Management: Use metrics like Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) to monitor and improve power efficiency. Regularly measure PUE to account for seasonal changes and optimize accordingly.

UPS Systems: Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) provide short-term backup power during outages. They ensure an orderly shutdown or transition to backup generators, protecting your data and equipment.

Generators: Diesel or natural gas-powered generators can keep a data center running during extended power outages. Consider integrating renewable energy sources like solar or wind to supplement these generators. This not only provides backup power but also reduces your carbon footprint.

Modular Designs: Modular data centers allow for scalable growth. They can be built off-site and assembled quickly, reducing initial costs and deployment times. This approach also makes it easier to upgrade power and cooling systems as technology advances.

By implementing these innovative cooling technologies and power management strategies, you can significantly enhance your data center’s performance and efficiency.

Next, we’ll dive into the critical aspect of data center security and compliance to ensure your facility not only performs well but also meets all necessary regulations.

Data Center Security and Compliance

Implementing Robust Security Measures

Ensuring your data center is secure involves a mix of physical security and cybersecurity measures.

Physical security starts with controlling who can enter the facility. Use electronically logged access systems and smart video surveillance with AI-assisted facial recognition. This technology helps identify who should be in the equipment room and alerts you to unauthorized access.

Access controls are another key element. Implement multi-factor authentication and biometric systems to ensure only authorized personnel can access sensitive areas. For instance, many data centers use fingerprint or retina scans in addition to traditional keycards.

On the cyber defense side, deploy tools like antimalware, configuration management, and intrusion detection/prevention systems. These tools help monitor network activity and identify potential threats. Regular activity logging is also crucial to track who accessed what and when, helping you quickly spot any anomalies.

Compliance with Global Standards

Meeting regulatory standards is not just a best practice; it’s a necessity. Various regulations guide how data centers should operate to ensure data security and privacy.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is crucial for data centers handling medical information. It requires stringent security measures to protect patient data. This includes both physical and cybersecurity measures, ensuring that data is encrypted and access is tightly controlled.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is essential for data centers operating in or serving clients in Europe. It mandates rigorous data protection and privacy standards. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines, so ensure your data center adheres to these regulations.

ISO 27001 is an international standard for information security management systems. Achieving this certification demonstrates your commitment to managing sensitive company and customer information securely.

PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is crucial for data centers that handle payment card information. This standard requires robust security measures to protect cardholder data, including encryption, access controls, and regular security testing.

By implementing these security measures and adhering to global standards, you can ensure your data center not only stays secure but also complies with all necessary regulations.

Next, we will explore the future trends in data center construction and how AccuTech Communications is committed to quality and reliability in this changing landscape.

Conclusion

Future Trends

As we look to the future of data center construction, several trends are shaping the industry. One of the most significant is the shift towards sustainable and energy-efficient designs. With increasing pressure to reduce carbon footprints, data centers are adopting renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. Innovative cooling technologies, such as liquid cooling and free cooling, are becoming more prevalent to minimize energy consumption.

Another trend is the rise of edge data centers. These smaller, localized facilities bring computing power closer to users, reducing latency and improving performance. This is particularly important as the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G networks continue to expand.

Modular data centers are also gaining traction. These prefabricated units can be quickly deployed and scaled as needed, offering flexibility and reducing construction time.

AccuTech Communications Commitment to Quality and Reliability

At AccuTech Communications, we understand that building a data center is a complex and critical task. Our commitment to quality and reliability ensures that your data center is not only functional but also optimized for performance and efficiency.

We offer comprehensive services, from network cabling to structured cabling solutions, ensuring that every aspect of your data center build-out is handled with expertise and precision. Our team of skilled technicians and engineers brings years of experience and a deep understanding of industry standards and best practices.

We prioritize sustainability and innovation, integrating the latest technologies to ensure your data center is future-proof. Whether it’s implementing advanced cooling solutions or designing for energy efficiency, we are dedicated to helping you achieve your goals while minimizing environmental impact.

Our commitment to quality is reflected in our rigorous testing and certification processes. We ensure that every component of your data center meets the highest standards of performance and reliability.

For more information about our data center build-out services, visit our Data Center Build-Outs page.

By staying ahead of industry trends and maintaining a steadfast commitment to quality and reliability, AccuTech Communications is your trusted partner in mastering data center construction.

 

Mastering Data Center Construction: Essential Tips and Strategies

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