How to Avoid Common Mistakes in Data Center Design and Planning

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I recently had occasion to read a white paper that Schneider Electric put out some years ago about the mistakes companies make in data center planning and was surprised at how little has changed over the years.

The number one mistake named in the paper, titled “The Top 9 Mistakes in Data Center Planning,” was failure to take total cost of ownership (TCO) into account. As the paper explains, the fundamental issue is that companies often neglect to calculate a 3-7 year operations and maintenance (O&M) expense budget. Such a budget would cover the estimated costs for elements ranging from OEM maintenance contracts to the staff needed to run the data center day-to-day.

It’s an issue I continue to see today, although the equation has changed somewhat. The energy efficiency of much of the data center infrastructure has improved over the years, in some cases dramatically so. Of course the most efficient equipment may be a bit more expensive than other options but taking TCO into account will quickly determine whether that additional upfront investment is worthwhile.

Data Center Design and Planning eGuide

Another, related mistake that jumped out at me was the last one, which is overcomplicated designs. It’s well-known that when it comes to data center design, simpler is better. The more different elements and components you have in a data center, the greater the chance something goes wrong.

That’s because additional complexity increases the risk of human error and introduces additional potential points of failure. What’s more, complexity means more equipment and components, which raises O&M costs – bringing us back to the TCO problem.

One rather simple way to avoid such issues is to use reference designs in your data center planning process. A reference design is literally a blueprint of a data center design, complete with detailed performance information, CAD drawings, piping diagrams and an equipment list.

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Schneider Electric has some 40 reference designs to choose from in its data center reference design library. Each reflects decades of experience in data center design, construction and operation. That means you have assurance that the design will deliver a data center that is not only reliable, but cost-effective to operate and maintain – meaning it will have a lower TCO over time.

To help you quickly identify the one or two designs that are the best fit for your data center, the design selector lets you search by your target data center tier and PUE.

What’s more, the designs are not rigid; rather, you can adapt them to fit your own requirements. Joe Reele, head of the Datacenter Solution Architects group at Schneider Electric, put it this way in a recent blog post:

“One size does not fit all, so we realize that you’re looking for flexible solutions in everything that you do. When you buy a box of Legos, there may be instructions on how to build a racecar, but really there’s nothing stopping you from building any other sort of car.  Reference Designs [are] customizable in the same way—the different inputs you put into the model will create different outputs.”

The use of data center designs is just one of the many tips presented in a new, free eBook from Schneider Electric, “A Practical Guide to Data Center Planning and Design.”

The eBook will walk you through the data center planning process, including design and site selection. It also includes some best practices and success stories based on real customer implementations.

Download the eBook now to get some valuable tips that’ll help ensure your next data center doesn’t is a resounding success – and doesn’t fall victim to any of those common mistakes.


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  • Ravi Malhan

    7 years ago

    Convey my compliments to the author who has so succinctly and professionally written this brilliant blog !

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