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Data Center Costs & Considerations: Hedge Funds Take Note

By Demetrios Gianniris | Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Before making the decision to move your IT infrastructure to a data center or colocation facility, there are a number of important criteria to evaluate.  Let's review some of the most important.

Tiers – Data centers can occupy one room, one or more floors, or entire buildings. They are classified in terms of Tier Levels from Tier I to Tier IV, with Tier IV being the most advanced in terms of redundancy, security and availability.

Energy costs – As the cost of energy increases, analysts predict IT energy costs today are but a fraction of what future costs will be at current growth rates. Additionally, current trends indicate that server operating costs have the potential to equal their capital costs within three to five years.

Design innovation – Data center design is becoming increasingly important for improving operational efficiency. The foundation of data center design philosophy contains five core values: simplicity, flexibility, scalability, modularity and sanity.

HVAC – The efficiency and effectiveness of a data center HVAC system is heavily influenced by the path, temperature and amount of cooling air delivered to the IT equipment. The key to an efficient airflow design is to eliminate mixing and recirculation of hot equipment exhaust air. This can be accomplished by:

  1. Optimizing the location of HVAC units

  2. Specifying a “Hot Aisle/Cold Aisle” design configuration

  3. Implementing rigid enclosures

  4. Blanking unused rack positions

  5. Selecting racks with good internal airflow

  6. Supplying air directly to the loads

  7. Positioning supply and returns to minimize mixing and short circuiting

Plumbing - Relative humidity (RH) measures the amount of moisture in the air at a given temperature in relation to the maximum amount of moisture the air could hold at that temperature. Humidification specifications and systems in data centers have often been found to be excessive or wasteful. In some cases, provisions for humidification are simply poor. Too much humidification leads to a build-up of condensation, which results in hardware corrosion and early system component failure. Conversely, too little humidification makes equipment especially susceptible to electro-static discharge.

Electrical – Protection from power loss is a common characteristic of data center facilities. However, such protection comes at a significant up-front price and also carries a continuous power usage cost that can be reduced through careful design and selection. Methods for reducing electrical consumption include:

  1. Maximizing unit loading

  2. Selecting the most efficient UPS possible

  3. Not over-specifying power conditioning requirements

  4. Eliminating standby generators

  5. Recovering waste heat for local uses

  6. Generating cooling at off-peak intervals for use at peak intervals

Lighting – Lighting is often taken for granted in data center designs. Light levels are expressed in the metric unit “lux.” One “foot candle” is approximately 10 lux. A typical US corporate office is lit to an illumination of 30 to 100 foot candles. As a typical rule of thumb, data centers and computer rooms should be lit to an illumination of between 40 and 50 foot candles. The energy consumption of such illumination levels can be safely reduced via the implementation of occupancy sensors and bi-level lighting.

Fire protection – Data center fire protection comes in two types, active and passive. Active fire protection systems are triggered by action or response. They fall into the following categories: fire suppression, sprinklers and fire detection. Passive fire protection systems include compartmentalization of the overall building structure, and typically include fire rated walls, floors and partitions as well as designated fire refuge areas. 

Eze Castle Integration has deep experience in helping hedge funds evaluate the considerations associated with data center and colocation facilities.  Contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about best practices.

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