(An Actual Customer Call)
By Larry Smith, President, ABR Consulting Group, Inc.


The draft budget below is the result of an actual call by a person visiting our website.  We produced this draft budget as the result of a 5-minute phone call and not seeing the data center.  The $720,000 budget is very real for planning and relocating a large data center containing IBM mainframes and peripheral equipment.  70% of the costs are directly related to acquiring special cables and components for the IBM system, voice and data cabling of the computer room and the costs for IBM and other large vendors to relocate their own equipment.  As a comparison, planning and relocating a 4,000-6,000 sq.ft. data center containing only servers, routers, etc. would be approximately $200,000 with half the cost being for cabling, components and relocation expense.  The remainder is for planning and project management.  

This draft budget was done quickly and without seeing the site.  Ultimately, it could vary either way dramatically.  We must see the site in order to provide an accurate budget.  The importance of the exercise is to get a detailed list of what items are involved in planning and relocating a data center in front of the customer.  

Have a data center project on the horizon?  Need help in finalizing your project budget?  The one thing you absolutely do not want to do is come in too low (see our newsletter on this subject).  ABR can help.  We invite you to go to our contact page (Contact Us) and either send us an email or call us directly.  



On Thursday, July 5, 2001, we received a call from an operations manager of a data center in the mid-west that went something like this on our voice mail:  "This is (name withheld) from (name of organization withheld) and I need to know how much its going to cost to move my data center.  Could someone from your office come out here today or tomorrow to meet with us?"  

I made contact with this individual a short time later and had a very brief 5-minute conversation.  In that conversation, I learned that this individual was a manager of a large data center containing an IBM mainframe and other IBM systems.  I asked for the size of the data center and she didn't know.  I told her that I was not able to travel immediately but I would have something for her by the next morning.  I was able to get her email ID and the conversation ended.  

Equipped with vast experience in planning and relocating IBM-based data centers I made the following assumptions and prepared the draft budget below:

  1. We were recently involved with two IBM-based data centers in similar organizations (same industry) and simply estimated the size of the data center to be approximately 10,000 sq.ft. for budgeting purposes.  

  2. Learning that this was a very Blue shop, we were certain that IBM Global Services was hovering around this project somewhere and that the customer probably had a quote from IBM in hand.  We think that the sticker shock prompted the management of this organization to seek alternate solutions.  

  3. A project of this size and scope will need 5,000-6,000 hours to plan and manage from beginning to end.  Note that the entire 6,000 hour total is over and above the normal day-to-day workload.  

  4. Of the 6,000 hour total, we would suggest 2,500 hours for outside consulting and project management resources (such as ABR).  The remaining 3,500 hours will come by increasing the workload of existing staff. 


The draft budget below was emailed by 10:00am PST on the following day (Friday 6, 2001).  Two hours later, I contacted the caller to discuss the draft budget.  First, she was quite surprised that we could provide such a good estimate of her data center inventory without seeing the room and without her naming one piece of equipment in the room.  Second, her organization had indeed asked for a quote from IBM Global Services and was attempting to find a less expensive solution.  Third, from her questions and comments, our draft quote had to be much lower than what she saw from IBM.  She did not reveal IBM's quote but we know they cannot outbid ABR given that we both bid on the same specification and given that they bid using their normal labor rates.  Our labor costs are up to $100/hr. less depending on the resource category.  Plus, our quotes include all consulting and project management to relocate every piece of IT equipment in your data center.  The key word is EVERYTHING.  Our competition excludes many items that you will find in the draft budget below. 

Draft Relocation Budget

Our immediate objective was to answer her question "How much does it cost to move my data center?"  The following draft budget is very similar to what the caller saw on her email 24 hours after her initial call.  It has been modified slightly for viewing by our website visitors.  


Thank you so much for contacting the ABR Consulting Group, Inc. with regards to relocating your data center.  It sounds like you need to come up with something quick so let me be brief, make an enormous amount of assumptions based on our five minute phone call and provide you with a number.  Iíll call you shortly and we can modify the assumptions as necessary. 

Assumptions:  (All of this is a pure guess based on previous experience)

1.   You have a data center that is approximately 10,000 square feet in size

2.   The following is included in your construction budget and is not needed here:

  • Building construction (including the raised floor)
  • UPS/Generator, switchgear, etc
  • Voice/data cabling for the general building (all but the data center)
  • Underfloor electrical (not final placement, however)
  • All HVAC, fire safety, security, etc.)
3.  The following is not included as part of the construction and you will need to 
     budget for it.
  • All voice/data cabling to equipment, racks, cabinets and remainder of computer room
  • All pre-wiring for the PBX
  • Bus & Tag cables for approx. 40 channels
  • 20 data cabinets
  • Furniture for server lab area
  • KVM systems for 80 servers  
  • Planning for relocation of all IT equipment
  • Final identification of electrical receptacles and their locations

4.  Equipment - Mainframe & Peripherals

  • One 2-3 cabinet IBM 9672 RXX.  If you have an IBM 3090, we need to talk. 
  • 4-6 strings of IBM (or equivalent) DASD with controllers
  • 10,000-15,000 tape cartridge systems and a tape storage area
  • 1 IBM 3745/46
  • 4-6 IBM 3274 controllers
  • 20 operating and network consoles
  • Possible IBM 9700 printer
  • Tables, chairs, bookcases, storage cabinets, etc.

5.  Equipment - Mid Frames

  • 6-8 large Sun systems, DEC 7000 with Storage Works, etc. 

6.  Equipment - Servers
  • 40-60 NT servers
  • 80-100 Unix servers
  • 80 CRTs
  • 60% of these servers are in cabinets.  40% are on lab-type furniture systems

7.  Equipment - Network

  • 2-3 routers
  • 4-6 switches (Cisco 6509, 5000)
  • 4 cabinets full of modems, other comm.  Other stuff
  • 8 relay racks full of other network equipment 

8.  Voice/Data Circuits

  • 60 dial-in circuits with rotor system for students, etc.
  • 15 T1 lines from other buildings and to web

9.  Workstations for Staff

  • 40 workstations for staff


In planning the budget, note that for a 12,000 to 15,000 sq.ft. data center with IBM mainframes, you will need approximately 2,500 hours of consulting and project management assistance to design all equipment layouts, produce the entire equipment migration plan and be onsite to supervise the entire migration event.  Note that the labor rates that we quote below are our labor rates.  IBM Global Services rates are about $180/hr.-$225/hr.  You will also need to budget for components that are not normally part of the construction budget.  They are included here.  

Completing the Data Center and Pre-Move Installs

Note:   This section does not include costs for new network hardware

1. Voice/data cabling for computer room (includes 12 relay racks $    45,000
2. 10 KVMs $    24,000
3. 20 new data cabinets $    44,000
4. Shelves for cabinets $      6,000
5. New bus & tag cables (plenum-rated) (includes installation) $    50,000
6. New LIC cables for 3745/46 (plenum-rated) (includes install) $    12,000
7. New ESCON cables (includes installation) $    16,000
8. New RS232 and V.35 cables (includes installation) $      8,000
9. New furniture systems for NOC, servers, etc. $    40,000
10. Power strips $      6,000
11. 3X74 Controller racks $      2,000
11. Baluns, patch cords, coax cables, etc. $      8,000
12. Additional PBX cards, components, etc. $    16,000
13. Seed modems, CSUs, etc. $    24,000
14. Contingency $    20,000
  Total Components $  321,000*

*  This amount can increase dramatically if you must acquire "seed" equipment to be
    be pre-installed to reduce downtime (i.e. data center must move in 12 hours but
    certain operations must be online within 4-6 hours).  I do not detect a serious
    need here unless you have an IBM 3495 tape system which takes 8-10 days
    to relocate.  

Contracted Relocation Expense

We are assuming that you are relocating to either another floor in the same building or to another building in your multi-building campus.  

Note:  The costs below do not include re-configuring your fiber/copper backbone
          to other buildings in your campus should you move to a different building.  
          We can make this estimate but we need to see the site.  

1. Contracting with IBM to relocate all IBM equipment $    60,000 **
2. Contracting with other vendors to relocate the large, free-standing equipment $    18,000
3. Relocate the tape library $    10,000
4. Relocate servers, printers, CRTs, etc. in computer room $    20,000
5. Relocate staff PC workstations $      8,000
6. Mover expense $      6,000
  Total Relocation Expense $  122,000 ***

**  This projected expense does not include IBM's special equipment replacement
     insurance that guarantees replacement equipment within a specified amount
     of hours should your equipment be damaged during the move.  

*** The relocation expense could be as low as $50,000 depending on actual inventory

Consulting and Project Management

For more detail on consulting and project management, see our article on Equipment Planning and Migration

1.  Early Project Planning and Management

Working with the architect and engineers.  Equipment layouts, drawings, equipment inventory, coordinating
activities for final construction and pre-install.  Includes cabling RFP.  Includes PBX inventory.  

Consulting & Project Mgt 500 hrs $125/hr. $    62,500
Other Technical Labor 300 hrs $90/hr $    27,000
Sub Total Consulting & Proj. Mgt.     $    89,500

2.  Equipment Migration Planning

Complete planning for the teardown, movement and reinstall of all equipment.  Includes drawings, project plan, data circuit cutovers, team meetings, vendor meetings and other activities

Consulting & Project Management 900 hrs $125/hr. $  112,500
Other Technical Labor 500 hrs $90/hr. $    45,000
Sub-Total Equip. Migration & Plan     $   157,500

3.  Actual Move Events

Onsite presence to manage all technical relocation events

Consulting & Project Management 100 hrs. $125/hr. $    12,500
Other Technical Labor 200 hrs. $90/hr. $    18,000
      $    30,500


Total Cost for Consulting and Project Management $   277,500

TOTAL COSTS FOR PROJECT                                 $ 720,500

This is the estimated expense that will be needed to relocate your entire data center.  Iíve assumed that you have a 10,000 sq.ft. data center and lots of equipment.  We have only two exclusions:

  1. This budget does not include any expense for any type of software engineering.
  2. This budget does not include any expense for network or server "seed" equipment.
  3. This budget does not include any expense for re-engineering you copper and fiber voice/data backbone cabling system as a result of relocating to another building on your multi-building campus.  

Many customers overlook two major areas of expense; (1) the cost of preparing the new computer room for the move (Customer fit-up) and, (2) the cost of the extra consulting and project management.  These are huge expenses.  If I have over estimated the size of your computer room and operations, this number can be reduced significantly but you wonít escape most of it. 

Thank you once again for contacting the ABR Consulting Group, Inc. 


Contact us at www.abrconsulting.com   Phone:  925.872.5523