A datacenter on its face seems like a very simple thing. You take a room, you stick some servers in it, add some cooling and UPS and it’s good to go, right? But is it really is that simple?
When you actually get into the details of either planning a datacenter or orchestrating a move from one to another, there are a lot more complexities that come into it. The difference between a datacenter and server room is more of a matter of opinion than a clearly defined thing. “Server rooms” typically refer to rooms that are kind of cobbled together and work.
Power and cooling are two of the elements people regularly remember needing in their datacenters, but often fail to properly plan for. However, proper UPS and A/C sizing are both their own mix of science and art that would take far more space than is available here, so we’ll focus elsewhere.
Power and Distribution
Circuits, PDU, plug counts, voltages, UPS run time, and generators … all of it is very important for a proper datacenter. People regularly forget these simple things. It’s incredibly common to go to a datacenter to help set up a UPS and there to be nowhere to plug it in, or not enough plugs for the new servers. Outfitting your datacenter with a light that turns on when the power goes out is also very important.
It’s important to make sure cooling can keep up with your demands, but where you put the A/C and redundancy of it is just as important. Keeping your datacenter running for three hours after a power failure is great, but if you don’t have your cooling available, you’re still going to have an outage. A single A/C may meet needs, but what if it breaks? Putting the A/C in the ceiling sounds like a good idea, until it breaks and you have people climbing over your fiber to repair it or condensing water pouring on your rack.
Physical placement of the datacenter is also extremely important. Keeping the datacenter away from high traffic areas and keeping full firewalls (slab to slab) is very important for security as well as fire control. Avoid external windows are for obvious reasons (security) as well as non-obvious (direct sunlight part of the year).
Datacenters are heavy. Sometimes very heavy. The weight concentration is much higher than in an average office space. A rack that has a UPS in it could weigh 2,000 pounds or more in a small four square foot area. Additionally, there are just four small one-inch feet for that rack, giving a 500 pounds per square inch weight load. Put three or four next to each other and you can have several tons in the area normally occupied by an office desk. Make sure the building has support for that kind of weight, especially if it’s not a steel reinforced concrete building.
Datacenters are almost always over or undersized because growth either isn’t planned for or it’s massively over-estimated. Improperly large datacenters can potentially lead to awkward heat distribution which can cause A/C issues. Too small of a datacenter and there’s no room to store any equipment or expand. Growing a datacenter later is often not the best solution, as it creates security nightmares and can lead to power, cooling and other concerns. A server full of drywall dust is not a happy server!
All of these planning details (and a whole lot more) go into a proper datacenter design. Most people working at a single company maybe do one round of datacenter replacement in their career. With that limited experience, it can be very hard to remember and plan for all of those little details. Luckily, Mirazon does this type of work very frequently and can help you.