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Data Center Design: Outsourcers' Notebook


By next year, fully half of today's data centers will have insufficient power and cooling capacity to support high-density equipment, according to Gartner Predictions. We believe it, based on our own recent tests of the blade servers that are rapidly altering our computing infrastructures and changing how we deal with spiraling heat and power consumption. These denser systems simply run faster and hotter; the efficiencies touted by vendors like Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems stem from the ability to consolidate power and cooling at rack level. Helpful, but the increased demand is still there.

One way to dodge the problem is to use a collocation facility. But as metro-area real estate gets tight, hosting prices are rising in many parts of the country (see "Where Can You Build a Data Center on the Cheap?" in the image gallery). That leaves upgrading existing facilities or building one or multiple new data centers, perhaps geographically dispersed to provide disaster recovery. For most IT pros, this monumental task brings big questions about our role in the project and the key areas we need to monitor.

We learned many of these lessons first hand, as we participated in a 15-month effort to design and build a 10,000 square foot Tier III data center. When the facility was completed, in September 2006, it contained 8,000 square feet of raised floor space, 2,000 square feet in electrical and UPS rooms, and massive generators and transformers in an outside electrical yard.

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