STEPS TO LOCATING AND DESIGNING A LARGE
As a disclaimer to the information below, ABR Consulting
Group, Inc. is not in the Real Estate business. We are independent experts
in the planning and relocation of major data centers. We do participate in
due diligence studies on potential sites and we do prepare program requirements
for customers to turn a a selected site into a failsafe data center. We
have extraordinary experience in preparing construction and relocation budgets
for these types of project. We offer the following for your consideration
when looking for a large, and possibly 5-nines, data center.
BUSINESS REASONS FOR MOVE
There are numerous reasons why enterprises choose to
move their data center. The more
common reasons are:
Outgrown the existing data center
Infrastructure is too old or too expensive to upgrade
Too expensive to maintain
State or local regulatory and/or tax issues
Lease is up and a new site makes better business sense
Suitable area with qualified labor
8. Facility can no
longer meet facility downtime requirements.
The existing facility has too
many single points of
failure and is not reliable. Too
expensive to upgrade. Even after
facility has too many other problems
to reduce labor costs
Most often, any or all of the business reasons above
will drive the selection of a new location for a data center.
For this exercise, the business reasons are unknown.
We offer the following assumptions that describe what
features that an enterprise would
be looking for in a large data center:
1. A building that can
house a raised floor of no less that 60,000 – 80,000 sq.ft. plus all
supporting operations. Ideally, the
raised floor and 24/7 operating staff are to be on one level.
2. A site with an
equipment yard that can support a 5-nines data center (99.99999% uptime) with
the raised floor in item #1 and all supporting operations.
This translates into .8-1.0 sq.ft. of equipment yard for every sq.ft. of
3. A site that has the
power source to supply 4,500-5,000 amps @ 480 VAC for the data center and its
operations. Expect a design of 65-70
watts/sq.ft. for the raised floor area. Ideally
near a second power sub-station.
4. A site that is very
near major routes for fiber optics suppliers.
Dual fiber entrances onto the property from two diverse directions is
required. Very large enterprises may
want to bring in more than one fiber supplier.
5. Floor loading in the
building housing the data center of no less than 125 lbs/sq.ft.
150 lbs./sq.ft. is preferable. A
building with a 100 lb/sq.ft. floor may need to be braced in several locations.
ceiling height for the computer room. Suggest
no less than 10 feet clear between the top of the raised floor and the false
ceiling. 10.5-11.0 feet is
TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION
New construction is preferred. May
not always be possible or practical.
1. Expect a cost of
$800-$1,200 sq.ft. to build the raised floor and supporting complete
equipment yard for a 5-nines data center. This
does not include the general office
TO LOOK FOR IN SELECTING A SITE
general, the site under consideration must take the following under
1) Not under an airport landing or takeoff pattern2)
Not in the pathway of a dam should there be a loss of integrity
3) Not near
regularly-used railroad tracks or spur tracks into industrial or
Not near areas with industrial pollution
Not near areas with surrounding facilities that are sources for
Not near major sources of constant vibration
Flood plains or any area that can flood
Land depressions near rivers or lakes
Areas with large forests nearby
2) Build Accordingly
in Areas with the Following Natural Hazards
a) Seismic activity
b) Tornados and
c) High winds or
d) High incidences of
e) Extremely cold
2. Labor Resources
The metropolitan area surrounding the new data center complex should be known to
have a robust source of qualified data center staff resources.
STEP-BY-STEP APPROACH TO BEGINNING DESIGN
1. Step One – Prepare
Draft Program Requirements
A. Must have a 90%
understanding of sq.ft. needs and general environmental
for the data center.
2. Step Two - Prepare
Replace or upgrade equipment
Fit-Up equipment and materials for new data center
a) Project management
b) Vendors (planning)
Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E)
Preparing the draft program requirements and the budget can begin
but the 90% requirements must be completed before the budget
3. Step Three –
Identify Potential Geographic Areas
4. Step Four – Select
Possible Sites or Buildings
The availability and attractiveness of certain sites or buildings may
the geographic area.
NOTE: Site selection and
building evaluation can begin before budget is complete.
5. Step Five –
A. Consider retaining primary
architect when site or building selection is down
to the short list.
They are very valuable at this point.
B. If you are considering an
existing property, consider retaining an electrical and mechanical engineering
firm to evaluate the environmental systems.
This firm must be highly experienced in evaluating sites or buildings
that will house a large data center. We
can recommend some top notch firms.
6. Step Six – Select
Site or Building
7. Step Seven – Begin
Begin serious finalization of IT program requirements
VII. HOW LONG WILL THESE STEPS TAKE?
The project can move from budgeting and programming in 90-120 days or less by
themselves. However, the most
important critical-path item is site selection and this will stretch out the
elapsed time for the entire set of above-described steps.
ABR CONSULTING GROUP, INC. CAN HELP
1. Our associate
electrical engineering firm, EYP Mission Critical Facilities
(www.eypmcf.com) is highly experienced in
the evaluation of potential sites or buildings
that will house mission-critical data centers.
We have teamed on several projects for
precisely this activity. If the
customer is interested, we could offer to make a one-week
swing (or longer) to look at their potential sites.
We could also do the necessary ground
work to identify the telecom suppliers and fiber routes in the areas of the
We can possibly shorten the search and save the customer money in the process.
2. EYPMCF has a
nationwide presence with several offices in the U.S. Interestingly,
EYP maintains a good list of data centers that are available around the U.S.
They also have some information on the specifications and features of
these data centers.
3. As mentioned above, a
5-nines data center will cost about $800-$1,200 sq.ft. to build.
For an 80,000 sq.ft. floor, this can be $96,000,000.
And, this is just for the raised floor and supporting environmental
equipment. An important part of that
cost is the acquisition of the generators, UPS, switchgear, HVAC equipment and
other large environmental systems. It
should be noted that there is a large inventory of brand new systems that were
installed in large web-hosting sites and never used beyond testing.
These systems are the best of the best and can be purchased for about
15%-20% of their original value plus de-installation and shipping.
We know where a lot of this equipment is because we designed many of
these sites. Use of these systems
could reduce the overall costs for the project.
4. ABR has a 42-page
program requirements template for a large data center that we use to begin
projects. With a few interviews and
tweaking to the document and you have a program requirements document for the
architect, engineers and general contractor. This advantage, plus
30-years experience in large data centers, allows to proceed quickly in
finalizing the program requirements.
5. EYP is equipped with
a very large checklist that they use when evaluating sites or buildings that
will house mission-critical data centers.
Contact us at www.abrconsulting.com