IT is becoming more critical all the time and trends such as the explosion of big data are only adding to the requirements that IT groups must meet. To keep up, companies often need to build out additional data center space by either adding to an existing facility or building a new one – usually under a tight deadline.
One tool that can help cut the time it takes to add data center capacity without sacrificing quality is a data center reference design.
A data center reference design is a tested, validated, documented design package for the physical infrastructure systems. It may be for an entire data center or just some subset, such as an IT room, power or cooling plant.
The design plan should include elements such as a detailed bill of materials, electrical and mechanical one- line (or “single-line”) diagrams, floor layouts that use CAD drawings showing where each component will be placed and spaced from each other.
Beyond drawings, though, the reference design package should also include information on the system-level performance attributes the design will deliver, based on actual prior experience. This standardized list of attributes is a big step forward from the usual tactic of rolling up the performance of individual components to determine a more theoretical system performance. This list also makes it possible to rapidly compare designs and consider tradeoffs literally in minutes or a few hours versus weeks or months that it used to take.
Keep in mind that a reference design is just that – a reference; you can adapt it to fit your particular requirements with respect to capacity, growth plans, your facility floor plan and the like.
You can expect to glean numerous benefits from using a reference design as the basis for your data center project. For one, it facilitates and simplifies the planning phase. Reference designs have been tested and validated, which relieves you of a lot of those chores and reduces the project time.
Reference designs also reduce risk. Because the system performance is guaranteed by the design, you get more predictable performance and reliability out of the finished data center.
You also get to benefit from the experience of others. Reference designs get modified over time to reflect the experiences of those who implement the same design, so they continually become more accurate and reliable.
The extent to which that is true will vary, of course, depending, in part, on the source of the reference design. Designs are available from various system manufacturers and some user consortiums, such as the Open Compute Project Foundation. And some individual companies that build lots of data centers may develop their own reference designs.
When choosing a reference design make sure it’s tested, validated and well documented. Also consider whether the source is in a position to assure the quality, service and delivery of the systems included in the design. In other words, is it from an organization that either manufactures or writes code for the various systems that are part of the reference design? If not, they may have a hard time validating the design.
To learn more about reference designs, download the free APC by Schneider Electric white paper number 147, “Data Center Projects: Advantages of Using a Reference Design.”