Building a Data Center from the ground up

10 pts.
Data Center construction
Data center design
Data center facilities
Data center infrastructure
IT managers
IT project management
In working with Construction PMs, what can an IT PM bring to the table for a project to build a data center from the ground up?

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Have a look at this Data Center Site Planning Guide from Sun. It covers many important aspects that need to be taken into consideration when planning a data center.


As an IT PM myself, who also knows about data centers, the answer depends on the experience and skills of a construction PM. I have never had the pleasure of working with construction firms that really “know” data centers, even if they have built a few in their day.

For example – The construction PM knows about electrical systems and would know the codes to follow. They thus would make sure things like ground fault interrupts and power distribution units were in place and sized appropriately. However, there is a set of business requirements that deals with meeting data center service level agreements (SLA’s). If an IT PM knew the organization was expecting to achieve a 99.9% data center availability objective, they would then know that certain measures need to be taken during electrical construction, which may include the selection of and installation of redundant UPS systems and backup generators.

I think this is in general what the experience of an IT PM would bring to the table, being able to translate IT centric requirements into right-sized and appropriate environmental infrastructure that would achieve the requirement’s objectives.

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  • BrentSheets
    Note from Moderator: Hi Cybrown. You may wish to visit the data center design and infrastructure section of our sister site, SearchDataCenter dot com. They also offer the sub-section below. Thanks. Data center room design and location Looking for advice on how to design a data center? SearchDataCenter dot com has you covered with data center site selection and server room design experts, news and tips.
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  • SbElectric
    I agree , if budget is available, then engaging both Construction PM and IT PM will bring diverse but complementing skill sets for better construction of the Datacenter. After all a Data center should last 30 years or more. Generally IT PM will bring in IT Security (physical and logical) and Operations need/requirements & Construction PM will bring in building construction knowledge in material, water supply, HVAC, material receiving/docking facilities etc. IT PM will ensure proper installation of “kill switch”, fire suppression/prevention/monitoring need, incorporating “lights out” environment, if feasible, remote access need, and a myriad of other issues: delineation of Production, Quality Assurance and Test environment.
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  • Dave mc
    They should only be building what you need to operated your computer centre. while this is the first rule it is often the first rule forgotten. eg; they don’t have a job if you don’t need a data centre. Thus the most important thing you need to bring to the table is what you need and how you need to operate. - KW & electrical capacity you need now and into the foreseeable future. - Type of servers and other equipment. - Cooling type required. Hot/cold isle, water cooling. - Power types required and the amount of backup time. - Data centre energy and efficiency requirements. - But the main item is what your risk profile is allowed to be (lowest) and if you can shut down or not. Remember the higher level of up-time the more costly the build. This than dictates the type of installation, if or if not maintenance can be performed, quality, serviceability and type of equipment purchased. And most of all Communicate and don’t let them pat you on the top of the head and say trust us we have done this before. Yes they may have BUT DID THEIR BUILD ONE THAT IS OPERATIONALLY FUNCTIONAL AND ONE THAT FITS INTO YOUR REQUIREMENTS, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO BUILD ONE TO MEET ALL NEEDS. – AS AN ENGINNER WITH OVER 30 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN CRITICAL SITES AND DATA CENTRES, DON’T TRUST US – ASK QUESTIONS AND COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE.
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