Timelines and Potential Pitfalls of a Custom Data Center

This the fourth article in series on DCK Executive Guide to Custom Data Centers.

The advantages of a custom design can look and be attractive, since they may be able to accommodate non-standard IT hardware or provide very high energy efficiency or high cooling density. However there are potential pitfalls for those who have not had a great deal of experience with custom designs. If you change the design radically to meet specialized custom built hardware requirements you may lose the ability to easily adapt to different equipment after a hardware technology refresh cycle. This is especially true if your custom hardware requires non-standard cabinets, since the majority of typical computer hardware is designed for standards based cabinets.

That is not to say that one should forgo custom data center design to support specialized hardware and simply limit themselves to standard designs. You may choose to simply allocate one section of the data center to deal with specialized hardware requirements, if your IT systems can gain substantial performance benefit.

If, after carefully weighing the facts, you decide to proceed with custom design, bear in mind the impact on the timeline. A standard data center can be designed and built in 12-18 months by an experienced builder, once the basic size and capacity has been defined. With custom design you need to anticipate extended timelines. The first timeline is the preliminary technical requirements discussions, as well as the business and cost justification, within your own organization. Once your internal requirements have been defined, there will be extended time required for meeting with designers and builders to explore the feasibility and cost projections for your custom requirements. These extra steps can add 6-12 months to the timeline. Once the cus¬tom design has be finalized, the build-out should take 12-18 months if standard power and cooling equipment has been used, however if custom equipment needs to be specially fabricated, then additional time may be required for these items.

You can download a complete PDF of this article series on DCK Executive Guide to Custom Data Centers courtesy of Digital Realty.

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