How long does it take to build and prepare a ground-up (greenfield) data center project? In announcing its new data center in Quincy, Washington, Yahoo (YHOO) noted that the project involved 330,000 man-hours. That works out to about 8,250 40-hour work weeks. If you had 100 people working full-time on the project, that would equate to a completion time of 82.5 weeks - about 20 months, give or take a few days.
In reality, work hours are not spread uniformly across a project or time window. Some stages of a project would involve far fewer than 100 workers, other parts could require far more. Your mileage may vary. But Yahoo's number provides an interesting metric for one large project for a major Internet company with long experience with data center infrastructure.
The Yahoo post by KC Mares, the company's Director of Data Center Strategy, also talks about Yahoo's approach to cooling the 140,000 square foot data center in Quincy, the emerging data center hub in central Washington:
Typical data centers use air conditioning year-round, but Yahoo! is exploring technologies that include high-efficiency air-conditioning systems that use water-based chillers combined with using cold external air to cool the inside of the data center about three-quarters of the year (we're pushing for more). Our goal is to operate our Washington facilities with a 100% zero-carbon footprint by using renewable hydroelectric energy, investing in additional carbon-offsets, and producing zero water waste through chemical-free water treatment and water recycling.
Mares also seems to downplay statements from company executives at the recent grand opening of the Yahoo data center, suggesting that Yahoo was rethinking its expansion in light of a Washington state ruling that exclude data centers from tax breaks for manufacturers. Mares called the grand opening "hopefully the beginning of a long relationship with many more celebrations to come," and said that co-founder David Filo and Vice President of Operations Kevin Timmons "reiterated the long-term investment that these data centers represent for Yahoo!"