Facility Management, IT Need to Communicate About Data Center Capacity
Avoiding that problem requires the facility management and IT departments to be in close communication. The facility department needs to know about IT plans that could increase density, while IT has to be informed about how much capacity the facility infrastructure has to support future increases in density.
One way to solve the problem is to build a new data center, which is what some large banks and corporations are doing, Schlattman says. They are replacing multiple, smaller data centers with one large data facility. The old centers may have been fed by 30 watts per square foot, while the new centers may be fed by 150 to 200 watts per square foot. Cooling is also increasing dramatically, he says, and the industry is adopting new ways to cool equipment — with hot aisle/cold aisle containment and by bringing chilled water to the computer rack to cool it.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the possibility of overdesigning a data center so that it is not energy efficient, but that problem is easily avoided, says Spinazzola, by "deploying MEP critical power and cooling in a scalable fashion."
Building a large enough structure to accommodate future needs is easy and cheap, says Spinazzola. "The idea is that — on a new building or on an expansion — you build a space for future racks, generators, UPS, and so forth, and you deploy [new equipment] as the IT load grows."
The use of modular components, mounted on skids or housed in containers, is a good way to add expensive equipment to match the growth of the IT load, Spinazzola says. He compares this approach to "just-in-time" manufacturing.
It's important to understand when the IT staff needs critical power, and for IT and facility management to work together to deploy needed equipment over time instead of making a huge investment up front. Sophisticated systems are now available to monitor power usage and "trend" for future needs, Spinazzola says. For example, if IT needs five megawatts in year 10, there is no need to deploy that much power in year one. "We work closely with IT and facility staff so they can understand how to match and trend and deploy over time instead of making a huge investment up front," Spinazzola says.
Maryellen Lo Bosco is an Asheville, N.C.-based freelance writer who covers facility management and technology. She is a contributing editor for Building Operating Management.