What You Need to Know About Data Center Design Standards
By: Alan Seal on May 21, 2019
A data center is so much more than just a warehouse for servers. The modern colocation facility is a sophisticated data networking environment that offers tremendous possibilities to its customers, empowering them to build the infrastructure they need to push their business forward. When evaluating a data center’s capabilities, it’s important to measure them by a number of key data center design standards that have a direct impact on performance.
What You Need to Know About Data Center Design Standards
If there’s one thing that most people intuitively understand about data centers, it’s that they demand a lot of power. Globally, data centers use over 400 terawatts of power each year. To put that figure in context, consider that the United Kingdom, which has a population of more than 65 million, consumed about 300 terawatts in 2015.
But just because data centers demand a lot of power doesn’t mean they have to do so inefficiently. Well-designed facilities put significant thought into power distribution to make sure that they’re not letting much electricity go to waste. They also implement sophisticated automated systems that manage power-intensive operations more efficiently to keep energy usage growth in check even as facilities grow larger and more powerful. Many facilities also embrace additional green data center design standards to ensure that they’re promoting sustainability alongside performance.
Part of the reason why data center infrastructure is consuming so much energy is that companies are deploying far more powerful servers than they did in the past. These servers have higher wattage requirements, which means data centers need to provide higher density racks to accommodate them. While a typical server rack once required between 3 and 5 kW the average density for today is between 7 and 10 kW, with many hyperscale facilities deploying racks in the 16 to 20kW range.
This shift has put pressure on data centers that lack the cooling infrastructure to accommodate this higher performance equipment. High-density server racks also tend to be larger than their predecessors, forcing many facilities to rethink how they deploy assets on the data floor. If a data room wasn’t designed with modern, high-density racks in mind, it may be forced to use inefficient workarounds that limit flexibility and potentially compromise performance.
From innovations in traditional air handlers to innovative strategies that incorporate natural cooling with outside air and water sources, cooling infrastructure is one of the primary design standards to consider for any data center. While many facilities still rely on relatively inefficient computer room air conditioners (CRACs), the increased power demands of modern servers have spurred the rapid development and adoption of new solutions like direct-to-chip liquid cooling and calibrated vector cooling (CVC).
While many facilities haven’t been able to take advantage of these systems due to their sizable legacy infrastructure, they can still make significant improvements to cooling efficiency through the use of analytics and automated systems driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Google’s recent experiments with cooling system automation have demonstrated that this technology has significant potential for reducing cooling costs for data center operations.
Data availability and server uptime are crucial considerations for anyone colocating assets with a data center. Every facility should have a backup strategy of some sort in place to safeguard customer data at all times. For some aspects of data center infrastructure, this will mean implementing fault tolerant systems that provide full hardware redundancy by operating backup systems in tandem to avoid even a millisecond of service interruption. In other instances, software-based high availability solutions can provide additional protection against hardware failures to ensure that customers will always be able to access their most valuable data.
With all the media focus on cybersecurity, it’s easy to forget that physical security measures are just as important when it comes to protecting valuable data and software assets. Leading data center design standards provide the best possible defense against physical data breaches with multiple layers of security that incorporate both physical and logical measures. From straightforward security features like perimeter fencing with cameras and motion sensors to more sophisticated tools like biometric scanners, a well-designed data center can ensure that only authorized personnel can gain access to customer assets.
Regular compliance audits are another key aspect of protecting customer data and equipment. With many colocation customers facing a variety of regulatory requirements as a part of doing business, it’s only natural that data centers design their infrastructure and operations with compliance in mind. A good facility should be able to produce the necessary certificates and attestations to demonstrate that they’re in compliance with all relevant regulations.
A colocation data center wouldn’t be of much use if it was just a secure room for storing equipment. Good facilities set themselves apart by providing extensive connectivity options and offering a variety of ways for customers to build the network infrastructure that makes the most sense for their business. Carrier-neutral colocation data centers make it possible for them to build the exact solution they need, allowing them to leverage the power of cloud computing while still enjoying the same benefits of managing their own private servers.
Whether a company needs low latency connections over single cross connections, direct connections to cloud platforms that bypass the public internet, blended ISP connections with DDoS protection, or the very latest in edge computing framework, colocation data centers have the resources to offer these and other innovative services. When looking for a data center partner, it’s important to evaluate whether or not its facilities have the connectivity to meet both existing and future needs.
Today’s data centers are held to much higher design standards than those of the past. With network performance more important to business success than ever before, it’s critical that any company considering colocation over a private data solution careful evaluates whether a facility adheres to the latest in data center design standards. Settling for a subpar data center can make it difficult for an organization to scale its operations in the future and obtain the services it needs to drive business success.
About Alan Seal
Alan Seal is the VP of Engineering at vXchnge. Alan is responsible for managing teams in IT support and infrastructure, app development, QA, and ERP business systems.