Building Cost-Effective Data Centers

Jim Trout is CEO of Vantage Data Centers, with two decades of wholesale data center design and operational expertise.

Data Centers

For organizations wrestling with increasing demands for power, greater performance and efficiency and cost savings, building and operating a data center represents a culmination of almost innumerable initiatives. The prevailing IT trends of virtualization, private clouds and increasing storage requirements all represent enormous pressure to do more with less. As a result, the data center has become significantly more than a building that merely houses “expensive computer equipment.”

To keep pace with the business requirements for more power and cooling, enterprises often attempt to take one of three paths:

  • Retrofitting an existing data center location
  • Creating new data center space from available room or real estate
  • Looking for property to build a new data center facility

However, many organizations soon find that prevailing costs and perceived lack of control regarding these options won’t pass muster with internal business partners. These enterprises may overlook wholesale data center providers. This is unfortunate, because viable and well-proven options exist within the wholesale data center space.

Build or Buy?

For example, in our Santa Clara project, we used many of the same energy saving and efficiency enhancing features innovated by Facebook, Yahoo! and Apple. As a wholesaler, we can offer these best-of-breed technologies in an optimally configured and operated solution for any enterprise – and with significant cost-savings relative to the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) model.

Measurements such as Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) govern many of the design intentions for DIY data center projects, including the Facebook facility in Prineville, Oregon. As noted in its Open Compute Project literature, Facebook sought a region with cooler prevailing outside air temperatures and lower-cost utility power in order to achieve a lower PUE and lower operating expenses. Likewise, wholesale data center solutions now also target ideal geographies and resources to reduce PUE and operating expenses. The difference is that when the wholesale data centers are finished constructing their projects, their customers are not burdened by the up-front costs, time and risk inherent with DIY models. Wholesale data center developers reduce those risks, and others.

There are other advantages to the wholesale data center model as well. While companies such as Facebook engineer a data center for a narrow scope of criteria due to the homogenous Facebook environment, wholesale providers build in additional levels of configuration and customization to achieve similar results for more complicated environments.

Wholesale data centers are typically better suited to support the multi-faceted requirements and mixed technologies of enterprises, including inconsistent utilization rates and varying levels of redundancy/uptime. Wholesale data center providers addresses such challenges upfront by designing and building data centers to support a wide range of requirements.

Maximizing Efficiencies

Both Facebook’s Open Compute Project in Oregon and Vantage Data Centers’ campus in Santa Clara achieve many of the Uptime Institute’s demanding Tier 4 level redundancy requirements (cooling, fault tolerance, distribution and compartmentalization) without many of the traditional expenses. These include:

  • Dedicated Substation(s)
  • Fully controlled power distribution from higher voltages to end-user-capable capacities
  • Redundant generators providing guaranteed uptime and additional support for concurrent maintainability
  • High efficiency UPS units, to minimize loss and maximize PUE
  • Pre-provisioning for additional power/cooling load and growth over time without measurable capital cost
  • Multi-function cooling solutions taking best advantage of regional benefits including prevailing temperature

Many enterprises have absorbed the cost and risk of building their own data centers because wholesale developers have paid little heed to their unique demands and have similarly failed to keep up with the pace of innovation within the data center. As a result, many facilities waste energy, foster undesirable work environments and lose their economic value at an accelerated pace. This doesn’t have to always be the case.

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  1. Many factors have to be taken into consideration while building a data center. It has to be perfect in order to enable efficient server management with proper cooling and power supply management. In my opinion building a data center is a better step instead of buying one so that all the factors can be considered and taken care of and thereby the unique demands can also be considered.

  2. This posts hits on quite a few valid points for me. Best practices for building and maintaining a data center is not common knowledge. So thank you very much for providing insight to this. I have been working on a site that is SOLELY dedicated to data centers and data center management. If you and anyone else could check it out, im sure it can help you with alot of questions and shine new light on ideas. Let me know what you think. Thanks.