Cooperation in the Data Center Can Reduce Costs, Increase Reliability
When it comes to money, the facility management and information technology departments come from two very different perspectives. Top management is far more willing to support requests by IT for a new generation of servers than it is for upgrades to a facility. But new data center IT equipment often brings significant increases in facility costs, both in higher energy consumption and increased capital expenditures.
Not so long ago, those facility costs were strictly the facility manager's problem. No more. Today, there is a growing recognition that facility management and IT have to work together to control costs while providing the data center performance needed to support the corporate mission.
In no case is that more true than in planning for a new data center. It takes 24 to 30 months to complete a new facility, and in the IT world computer equipment is refreshed roughly every 36 months. "We have to design [a facility] for the next four refresh cycles," Spinazzola says, "so they have a building that will last 15 to 20 years. The facility guys get it, but IT doesn't get it. We are trying to look 5 to 10 years out. IT doesn't understand how going from 1 kilowatt to 50 kilowatts will affect the mechanical and electrical infrastructure. You just don't blow more air and string more wires."
What's needed is an integrated approach to design. "FM and IT [must be] on board with the same project and work toward a common goal with a common budget," Spinazzola says. That means facility managers have to accept that some solutions will require shifting funds from facilities to IT. It also means that IT has to accept the reverse situation. "If they go into the project knowing that the total cost is important, and they can combine silos [of spending] into one common budget, they will be successful," Spinazzola says. "An integrated solution is cheaper, rather than having the Marx Brothers running around doing four different things," he says.