This is the second article in a series on DCK Executive Guide to Custom Data Centers.
Before considering building a custom data center, you need to carefully examine your organization's requirements and compare them to the deliverables offered by the standard “off-the-rack’ designs that comprise the mainstream data center industry. In many cases, the request for a custom design data center is driven by the IT department, perhaps because they had previous experiences with standard designs that did not meet some of their specialized requirements. If this is the case, then a very specific requirements list needs to be presented during the early stages during the requirements analysis. Moreover, IT architectures are constantly evolving to meet customer driven business requirements, as well as being affected by new equipment, which can impact the data center design. In addition, as was discussed in part 4 of this series, “Creating Data Centers Strategies with Global Scale,” business requirements are changing radically and rapidly and that impacts IT long term roadmaps, which must be carefully considered, before rolling out any new data centers.
Therefore, a clear understanding is mandated in defining the requirement analysis process that needs to first occur within your organization. This internal analysis process needs to involve the key business, IT and facility management personnel to scope out the immediate and long term requirements as well as reviewing the overall expectations of the information systems. Once this has been established, then the details need to be more closely analyzed by the CIO, CTO and IT Architects. This, in turn, should result in an IT roadmap which can project the amount and type of computing hardware required to support and deliver the stated business goals.
Once the IT roadmap is established, a cost or technology advantage justification needs to show how and why your IT architecture, systems and strategies require a custom design, rather than a standard data center. Moreover, a highly customized data center which deviates significantly from a more generic standard data center may not adapt well in the future, should your highly specialized IT requirements change significantly. This is not to say that you should forgo a custom design out of fear of early obsolesce due to a technology shift, just a caveat to be considered when evaluating the justification for a custom design, in relation to your long term IT roadmap and business goals.
You can download a complete PDF of this article series on DCK Executive Guide to Custom Data Centers courtesy of Digital Realty.