Data Center Design – Scalable and Flexible

What are some primary areas of focus concerning data center design?

When planning your data center design, it is important to consider scalability. Whether you use all of the allotted space from the start, or a more modular approach, it is vital to make sure you plan with scalability and flexibility to prevent having to make a large overhaul in the future.

Many facets of data center design and planning attribute to how easily and effectively your data center will be able to grow. Plan for

  • scalability
  • electrical and mechanical designs
  • location
  • floor space utilization

What changes in data center design, layout, and overall physical infrastructure can we expect in 2014 and beyond?

The switch towards higher density data centers has already begun as the result of increased reliance on virtualization. Virtualization can actually improve power consumption in the overall data center, however the manner in which virtualized servers are typically grouped more often than not creates areas or zones within the data center that require more cooling, which should be a consideration when designing or redesigning a room. You can provide specialized air conditioned server racks for specific equipment or a portable spot cooler if your AC is not uniform, especially during hot summer months.


We will likely also see a number of data center managers opting to move away from raised flooring in 2014. Tthere are some very compelling arguments against it;

  • data centers that do not use raised flooring can expect a cleaner environment
  • greater physical load capacity and more efficient cooling
  • decreased overhead costs

There are certain data center designs that will still benefit from the use of raised flooring, however most will not.

How do you expect these to impact efficiency and management?

The continuing shift towards higher density racks has benefits in overall efficiency, however in many cases, it will also require a different approach when it comes to cooling. Air cooling will work up to a point, but once enough high density racks are populated, it would be wise to consider a water-based cooling solution. This is generally not much of a problem for data centers that are being built from the ground up, but it can sometimes be troublesome and costly for older data centers that would need to be retrofitted to accommodate it.

Data centers that are not utilizing raised flooring can also expect to see an increase in efficiency when it comes to cooling. One of the most prevalent causes of inefficient cooling in data centers is the airflow obstructions that come along with raised flooring, with cable bundles in the plenum space underneath.

How will these influence the products data center managers buy in the near future?

The move towards high density racks will likely require data center managers to look into purchasing higher density PDUs to save physical space and increase airflow; higher density PDUs allow you to deliver more power with fewer cables thus fewer airflow obstructions. Data center managers might also consider looking into liquid cooling options for their room, in the event that their current cooling does not support the conversion to higher density.

For new data centers, what importance should enterprises place on physical location and taking advantage natural resources available?

Physical location is a very large consideration when it comes to building a brand new data center. Certain geographic locations offer benefits such as cooler climates or natural resources, such as drilling bore holes for local cold ground water. Some companies have begun building data centers in Iceland, where geothermal energy can be accessed at negligent costs. While you probably won’t opt to build your data center halfway across the world, it would serve you to do a bit of research on areas near you that might have favorable year round climate or other resources that can be taken advantage of to assist in reducing costs.

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