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BLOG: Selecting the right data centre

Peter Adcock | Nov. 4, 2013
When choosing a data centre, your company must correctly define its current and future requirements so your selected facility can support your growth plans.

With today's explosion of 'big data', the demand for data centres is booming and in some cases, overwhelming supply. According to a recent survey by Digital Realty, 78 percent of IT decision makers in Singapore alone, plan to expand their data centres this year.

However, many existing facilities are just not able to handle future expansion due to complications such as application growth, more stringent regulatory requirements, and snowballing storage demands.

This means that, when choosing a data centre, your company must correctly define its current and future requirements so your selected facility can support your growth plans.

Measuring total cost of ownership (TCO)

Simply defining requirements by space, or square footage, is not a suitable measure of total cost of ownership, or even of the right amount of space needed. The real estate, or data centre facility, contributes only 20 percent of the total cost of ownership. The expense of the facility's power delivery infrastructure is up to half the total cost of ownership.

While watts per square foot appears to be a good way to calculate data centre requirements, the equation to determine this can mean a shorter data centre lifespan. This equation (total power capacity available for an entire space, divided by a prescribed amount of square footage) can promise a high level of capacity, should there be 2MW of capacity and 10,000 sq ft (929 sq m) of space. However, should you wish to double your space, a data centre provider who promised 200 watts per square foot, would have to either double their space, or halve their watts per square foot capacity, to meet your company's needs.

Assessing IT load

A more effective measure of a data centre's capacity, is kilowatts of IT load. From a value engineering perspective, the requirements of the data centre reflect the unique attributes of this specialised space. Companies need to take a holistic view, carefully assessing power requirements, based on the footprint of all components that reside above the raised floor.

Data centres do not typically have a uniform load profile. While racks and blade servers may hunger for 250 watts per square foot, other components in the data centre, like the network or spinning disk storage, do not, since these have significantly lower power consumption.

Selecting a secure location

While it is important to take into account space and kilowatts of IT load, there are other factors that should also be considered when selecting or building a data centre facility. The recent Technology Risk Management Guidelines for Financial Institutions, issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), highlight the importance of location, security and resiliency. And while these guidelines were drafted with financial Institutions in mind, the principles hold true for all data centre facilities. They should be built in secure locations safe from the threat of natural disasters.

 

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