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Data Center Design
| Modern Data Center Best Practices

5 Data Center Design Best Practices

Data centers are climate-controlled environments specifically designed to house, power, and protect the sensitive IT equipment upon which your business relies day in and day out. These mission-critical spaces are the keystone to business continuity, making data center design and construction an activity no business can afford to take lightly. Indeed, the success of modern data center design hinges on the ability of IT and facilities personnel to successfully balance the often-competing needs for greater density and improved agility with higher efficiency and lower costs, all while keeping today’s latest data center design standards in mind.

While designing data centers is no easy task and will require a significant investment of time and resources to get the details right for your specific facility, there are some fundamental data center design best practices that apply to any design/build undertaking. Use these guidelines to build a framework for your project’s success:

  1. Decide how much space you need and where you need it. Data centers come in all shapes and sizes from simple server rooms to traditional raised-floor facilities to colocation and hybrid cloud solutions. Today, the need to move computing and storage capacity closer to end users has ushered in rapid growth in edge data center and micro data center solutions. Even as the edge of network expands rapidly, companies simultaneously need critical core data center facilities. Owners and operators will need to decide whether to build new data centers or to expand, retrofit, or upgrade existing facilities. Colocation and cloud solutions offer even more choices for IT and facilities teams to consider.

    Whatever data center architecture your company pursues, you will need enough floor space not only for the servers, server racks, and networking equipment, but also for the non-computing data center infrastructure components (i.e., power, cooling, and monitoring) that support the computing equipment. Remember to think beyond current requirements and plan now for future capacity needs as well.

  2. Carefully consider the full gamut of requirements. Data center design projects are so complex because of the sensitive nature of the equipment they house. Computing equipment requires a constant source of reliable power or an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), the right thermal management system for temperature and humidity optimization, solid physical security measures, and the ability to monitor the environmental conditions in the space around the clock. Scalable cooling, power, and white space are also critical to ensure the data center can expand with your needs.

    It’s a good idea to bring together IT, facilities, network, and security leaders at the early stages of a data center design project to define the full set of requirements for the space. The resulting requirements document will serve as a blueprint for building out the details of your design.

  3. Drive out inefficiencies with pre-integration, prefabrication, and flexible design wherever possible. Traditional data center design projects often lead to specifying commodity products from multiple vendors and then managing integration of the various solutions, which can lead to deployment headaches and delays not to mention performance problems. With the ever-escalating need for computing capacity, traditional brick-and-mortar builds are becoming less and less common in the industry. Leveraging prefabricated modular solutions can provide a better path to success in many cases, lowering overall costs and risk while speeding up data center design and build timelines.

    With a prefabricated data center solution, systems are assembled, integrated, and tested in an off-site factory environment to speed deployment and improve the predictability of both the design/build schedule. By leveraging repeatable subsystem building block designs, the prefabricated approach offers a more efficient, low-risk design process. With this model, the designs are also typically scalable, allowing for quick response to unforeseen demand.

    Prefabricated and pre-integrated solutions can include subsystems such as thermal management, power protection and distribution, controls and management software, and services, plus ancillary systems such as lighting, fire protection, physical security, and water treatment. It is possible to prefabricate and pre-integrate a complete environment for the efficient and reliable operation of your technology systems and deploy it anywhere in the world.

  4. Leverage popular data center design standards. Just like any new facility build project, data center building design needs to follow codes and standards. In additional to international, national, and local codes and requirements that apply to building projects of all types, some of the most important standards to consider specific to data center design include:

    • Uptime Institute’s Tier Standard: This standard focuses on the resiliency, redundancy, and reliability of a data center and provides guidance for the design, construction, and commissioning phases of a project.

    • ANSI/TIA-942: This standard deals with the physical aspects of data centers including telecommunications infrastructure, site location, architecture, electrical and mechanical systems, fire safety, and security.

    • EN 50600: As the first European-wide, transnational standard, this series takes a holistic approach to planning, construction, and operation of a data center.
  5. Consider efficiency from the very beginning. With Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues gaining increasing traction, and the data center industry being one of the most scrutinized due to its high power and resource usage, companies must consider how to build efficient facilities from the very beginning. Depending on how ambitious your goals are, you may want to carefully consider green certifications, such as LEED, Green Globes, and Energy Star. At a minimum, look for data center infrastructure design options or products that offer better power usage effectiveness, help you control your carbon footprint and environmental impact, and help to reduce costs. In many cases, newer infrastructure solutions and prefabricated data center components are already engineered to help companies meet their efficiency goals.

Start by Defining Data Center Design Best Practices

While the design and build of any data center environment is complex, having a set of best practices in place to serve as a framework will go a long way in getting your project organized. Pulling together requirements and standards while involving key players in defining and documenting critical needs (including efficiency and flexibility) right from the start, will help lay the right groundwork and position you for success.

Data Center Design Solutions Available From Vertiv

Vertiv helps companies build and expand data centers anywhere in the world including edge data centers, core data centers, and colocation and cloud solutions. Some of the most popular data center design solutions available from Vertiv include:

  • Vertiv™ SmartMod™ modular data center infrastructure. These prefabricated buildings are ideal for a wide variety of applications and industries. Designed as easily transportable, preassembled modules for rapid deployment, the enclosures are a foundational building block for modern modular data center design.

  • Vertiv™ Power Module 1000/1200. These solutions enable you to deploy isolated, power-dense, critical infrastructure capacity just in time to meet your business demands. You can rapidly construct redundant blocks of critical power infrastructure for your new or existing facility, allowing you to focus on the sensitive areas of the facility that require the most management.

Learn more about Vertiv’s integrated solutions and our role as the architects of continuity or contact us today to see how we can partner with you on your next data center design project.

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