How to Data Center Design & Construction – Planning and Site Selection

How to Data Center Design & Construction – Planning and Site Selection

Data Center Design & Construction


The process of planning designing and building a structure is a daunting prospect that can be overwhelming if not properly managed and divided into appropriately sequenced efforts. Within the spectrum of difficulty of building site selection planning design and construction data centers ranked near the top along with large industrial and manufacturing facilities and hospitals.

Data centers employ very complex mechanical, electrical, fire detection and suppression security communication and control systems. All of which must be designed constructed commissioned and maintained properly in order to function in their intended manners.

Although it may seem that the essence of the data center deliverable effort manifests in the design or construction stages and certainly those are the most overtly critical phases of data center functional delivery. The planning stage is perhaps even more essential to the long-term viability, operability and profitability of the data center environment.

Clearly, if not axiomatically site selection is the first step of that planning process by the time a site has been selected a parametric or conceptual design has typically already been completed. A conceptual design will generate a basic space planning footprint for the theoretical ultimate facility size on the selected piece of property.

Because a data center may represent an initial capital outlay of half a billion dollars or more and ultimately inclusive of O&M costs upgrades. Also, the near constant cycle of server upgrades exceed a billion dollars and may further tether a company to a location for decades. Barring an equally massive capital outlay to relocate or replace the plant and services of that originally selected site planning and design should contemplate the business and growth strategies of the company for as distance, distance of horizon as can be reasonably envisioned or anticipated.

Site selection is itself a topic of some significant conversation. Therefore, we will not be able to contemplate that topic in depth today. We’ll merely summarize for the convenience of the viewer the high point of the site selection process.

Data center site selection must account for a number of factors several of which are practically orthogonal in nature. Clearly, any site selection will want to avoid areas of significant historic natural disasters such as hurricanes floods tornadoes wildfires earthquakes etc.

Further site selection wants to equally mitigate potential harm from man-made disaster potential such as train derailments airline crashes industrial or power plant explosions or other high-impact unpredictable events. Unfortunately, several key components required for the daily operation and maintenance of a data center are only found in urban areas that also lend themselves to such risks.

Qualified personnel are required to staff and maintain data centers those personnel necessarily require roads power plants and the other conveniences of modern life in order to congregate in any given area. Therefore, there will always be some level of risk assessment and trade-off in selecting a data center location.

Two of the key components of data centers site selection that must be observed are the sufficiency of power and communications. A modern tier 4 data center will typically want as much as dual 10 megawatt feeds from separate grids and separate substations. Ideally, there will be multiple providers from which to choose for electric power all the better as the famed fairy-tale character mutt is said to negotiate with for reduced electric rates.

Modern data center will also require redundant communication lines again preferably via multiple providers. The aggregate throughput of which continues to rise this technology improves.