Creating a data center can be a painful process. It’s highly complex, it involves many functional areas that don’t normally talk to each other, and if the project fails, the results are visible to everyone. When you think about the full range of products that such a project can involve, your list can quickly reach six to eight different vendors to cover everything and that’s just for the physical infrastructure. Researching all that equipment and integrating it into one system can be time consuming and involves getting a lot of people on board.
There is one tool that you might not realize is available, and it can drastically reduce the time and level of complexity for your data center project. It’s called an Experience Center. I can understand that you might look at this like getting a pitch for a vacation time share, but when you think of it as an opportunity to advance your project, the whole situation changes.
Let me explain: I work for LDP Associates, Inc., an Elite Large Data Center Partner for Schneider Electric, and we do data centers. As a partner with Schneider Electric we are committed to providing design, layout and equipment selection services for our customers. One unique asset that we offer is an Experience Center, an environment where we can demonstrate technology in action. We find it to be our best and most effective tool for helping customers work through the planning, design and purchase process.
An Experience Center, used correctly, will help you determine what you need and how it all works together. The key is to set your expectations appropriately and come prepared with a list of questions and an open mind. From my extensive experience working with customers, here are 4 recommendations for making the Experience Center work best for you:
- Visit at the appropriate time in your design/purchase process—An Experience Center is not like visiting a new car showroom. Before making the trip, you should have a good handle on what your overall needs are, although all the details don’t have to be filled in. You want to see specific types of solutions, and the demonstrating provider will want to make sure the right equipment is featured and arranged in the way you will need to use it in your specific application. The most effective demo will be customized to your particular situation.
- Bring the right people—One of the most effective aspects of a demonstration is that people from different functional areas can come and see it at the same time. At a bare minimum, you should include the individual that is effectively the data center manager and the responsible facilities engineer. Given the value of most projects, having a c-level manager is great if you can get him or her to come along. The more people the better, because each of them will ask the questions that relate to their areas. This can drastically shorten the amount of time required to get everyone’s buy-in.
- Make the demonstrator do the work—Maybe this sounds a little odd, but don’t feel you have to know all the questions to ask before you come. An Experience Center should be staffed with experts who spend their lives eating and sleeping data centers. We will guide you through the process of seeing how everything works together. We will answer questions you haven’t even thought of. When you return and explain what you saw, your coworkers should be blown away by your new knowledge.
- Convince yourself—Your visit is an opportunity to see everything working. You get to see in real life what things like “modular, scalable architecture” and “close-coupled cooling” really mean. Do you want to reduce the risk of an unplanned power outage or maximize your energy efficiency? Ask the Experience Center to show you a failover scenario and put your proposed power infrastructure to the test. Are you concerned that your servers will really fit the racks? Bring one along and try it. Most Experience Centers should allow you to do these sorts of things, so don’t be shy.
This should give you a better idea of what you can expect on a visit. Time and time again, we have seen projects gain focus and take major steps forward as individuals from multiple functional areas all come together to ensure that everyone’s concerns are addressed, and that all the elements will indeed work together. There are number of ways to take advantage of an Experience Center. If you would like to benefit from a visit to an Experience Center contact Schneider Electric to arrange a visit to the Schneider Electric Technology Center or the new Boston ONE campus. Travel not an option? You can also contact your Schneider Electric partner to schedule a local visit. If you happen to be in one of our nine territories we invite you to visit us. The visit and experience will provide you with the insight and perspective you and your team needs to move your data center project ahead with confidence.