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What Goes into Designing and Building a Data Centre?

Published by Lee Kelly on 25 October 2019

There is an incredible amount of work that goes into both the design and the build phases of a data centre. Contrary to popular belief, these processes are far more complex than simply choosing the right equipment and installing it all in the designated space. A large data centre can consume as much energy as a small town. As you’d expect, this comes with some serious requirements, ranging from advanced cooling systems to huge power needs.

Because IT continues to become a necessity across all industries, more and more businesses are investing in data centres of varying sizes. Having a dedicated data centre that protects against data loss, security breaches and other concerns, is simply smart business.

However, it is important that you work with the right team. This is a knowledgeable team who will provide you flawlessly-functioning set-up; one that will stand the test of time. Read on to find out more about what you need to consider when planning your data centre. With the right approach, and the occasional modest upgrades, the centre will last you ten or even twenty years.

Critical Power Supplies - Data Centre Design of Room

Electrical Power

A large data centre can take up an entire building and have upwards of 1,000 servers. However, even the smallest data centre or server room needs reliable, uninterrupted power. UPS, battery banks and generators are all utilised, and, in many cases, power systems are duplicated to guard against failures.

As an industry leader in power protection solutions, Critical Power Supplies provides some of the most reliable and durable UPS systems. Units like the Riello MPW PWC 300 and Eaton 93PM UPS display proven reliability and efficiency, while at the same time offering surprising ease of deployment and management. They are excellent choices for modular data centre design – a method usually used in the pre-assembling of a centre, and something we will discuss later on. For power generation in case of mains failure, a high-quality generator is imperative. A good example of this is the SDMO J200K 200kVA generator.

However, a data centre and its power infrastructure should always be designed with the specific application in mind, staying away from manufacturer or model bias. If you are in need of professional power supply advice for your data centre or business, contact us our team.

Temperature Control

As you might expect, all this equipment running simultaneously can result in skyrocketing temperatures – both internally in the servers and power supplies, and externally in the nearby environment. As power demands increase, so too do cooling requirements.

This is why a powerful and highly accurate temperature control system is another important consideration of data centre design. When you take into account the fact that the data centre cooling market alone is expected to be worth about $8 billion by 2023, and that larger tech companies are going so far as to rely on AI for their cooling needs, it becomes clear how important this facet of data centre design is.

Critical Power Supplies - Temperature Control Thermostat

As of now, HVAC (air conditioning) systems are the most common temperature control seen in data centres. In order to address the ever-increasing cooling demands in data centres, a number of techniques have been developed to more efficiently remove heat. Calibrated Vector Cooling (CVC) was developed by IBM to optimise airflow through the equipment to improve cooling. Meanwhile, the popular hot aisle/cold aisle layout separates warm exhaust air and cold inlet air into different aisles. As a result, the air supplied by the AC does not need to be as cold as it otherwise would to compensate for the warm air being taken in by the equipment.

Slowly but surely, however, liquid cooling is gaining in popularity. Liquid cooling has been shown to consume less energy than conventional air cooling, and also takes up less space. Somewhat surprisingly, liquid cooling also consumes far less water, if any at all. Without the need for techniques like hot aisle/cold aisle air cooling, there is also more flexibility to lay out the data centre in a way that best utilises the space, for example.

Modular Data Centres

Modular data centres are being adopted by more and more organisations due to their unparalleled flexibility and scalability. These are pre-engineered data centres that are usually almost completely set up beforehand and then shipped to their location, often in shipping containers or other portable structures.

Because they consist of ‘building blocks’ that can be added in greater quantities, modular data centres are excellent for an organisation that is growing or may see growth in the future. They are also excellent when it comes to other considerations. Schneider Electric’s Eco Aisle allows you to easily create configurable hot and cold aisles. They are also helpful when it comes to safety concerns like fires and physical security.Critical Power Supplies - Schnider Electric Modular Data Center

Auditing

To ensure your data centre is operating at peak efficiency, it should regularly undergo a variety of professional audits. A data centre audit measures the operational readiness and performance levels of your centre while ensuring compliance with applicable parameters and standards. These checks are an integral part of achieving a data centre that will not only run efficiently but do so for a long time to come.

At Critical Power Supplies, our power management teams have the expertise to run a number of different audit types including site surveys, UPS health checks, battery testing/replacement, factory witness testing and more. We even offer high-tech, incredibly accurate auditing methods like thermal imaging surveying and reporting. Combined with continued maintenance and monitoring alongside inspections that result in repairs and upgrades when necessary, our life management of your data centre ensures that your investment operates as promised or beyond expected levels for 10 or even 20 years.

The Future of Data Centres

Tech innovators aren’t resting on their laurels thanks to the recent improvements they’ve made in data centre design and build. In fact, some of the most interesting new tech is just around the corner.

Lithium-ion batteries may be one of the most exciting emerging technologies. This type of UPS battery is promising because it lasts longer than conventional valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries. Certain designs can also run at higher temperatures than VRLAs, thus reducing cooling costs.

Another exciting development is that of energy storage solutions. With large banks of batteries capturing and storing energy to be used by the data centre, the possibility of increasing the use of renewable energy. Considering the large amounts of energy data centres consume, this could really be a game-changer.

There’s no doubt that an incredible amount of knowledge and planning must go into the design and build of data centres. From the most modest centres to sprawling, multi-floor locations, the right design and equipment are necessary in order to ensure safe and efficient operation. As the leading independent UK multi-brand supplier, Critical Power Supplies can help you choose the right equipment for your particular application and how to incorporate it into your data centre’s design. After 25 years, we have a unique understanding of uninterrupted power. To find out more, contact us today!