Data Center ArchitectureData Center Operations

Good Decision Making is Crucial in Data Center Planning: TradeOff Tools Can Help

Every day of our lives, we’re faced with decision making.  Many can be made easily, like where to go for lunch or what movie to see, mainly because the consequence of making a bad decision isn’t too great.  But some decisions require a lot more thought and have much greater implications long term, like what college to attend, or what career to choose.  This is where sound decision making skills become crucial.  Along the way, most of us have learned these fundamental steps:

  1. Understand your goal – what is the objective you are trying to achieve, problem you’re trying to solve
  2. Do your homework – gather enough information to weigh your options
  3. Consider the consequences – what are the pros and cons to the various alternatives
  4. Make your final decision – the more thoroughly you go through steps 1-3, the more confident you will be in your choice in the end.

When it comes to data center planning decisions, the same applies.  First off, always be clear on the reason for your project: is it to add more capacity, improve the reliability, reduce the PUE, upgrade an aging system?  Different goals will lead you to different choices.

Li-ion vs VRLA battery calculator for data center planning

When it’s time to do your homework, there are lots of resources to turn to.  One resource, in particular, I wanted to highlight is our TradeOff Tool library.  It’s a collection of 20 interactive calculators (and growing), each tailored to help address specific data center planning questions you may have, to help you quantify the impact of key choices you might make.  Decisions like what cooling approach should I deploy? or what level of redundancy should I design? or what type of energy storage system should I use? or which UPS is more efficient?

These calculators are web-based, mobile-friendly applications that allow you to experiment with “what if” scenarios so you can estimate the impact on cost, reliability, electrical efficiency, water use, carbon footprint, and so on.  They let you weigh your options, side by side, to make educated decisions based on real science, quickly and easily.

The back end of these calculators are data rich.  Months of research, data gathering, and comprehensive model development goes into the creation of each, all with a simple straight-forward front-end to help guide you in making the right decisions.

If you’ve got a data center project on the horizon, or you’re in the middle of one, check out the tools. I think you’ll find them beneficial in making some key project decisions or in justifying a project investment to management.  Our most popular ones are the Capital Cost Calculator and the Efficiency Calculator; and we continue to develop new tools as new trends and technologies arise.  For instance, one of our newest is the Lithium-ion vs VRLA Battery Calculator, to help you understand the capex and opex implications of choosing one battery technology over the other.  I’d love to hear what tools have been most helpful for your projects, and what tools you’d like to see in the future. And if you have questions on the methodologies/data on any of the tools, or want us to walk you through the spreadsheet models, we’re always happy to do so…Reach out to our team at dcsc@schneider-electric.com.


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