Feasibility studies

Risk assessment, identifying obstacles, and solution recommendation for redundant, serviceable support infrastructure of the data centre

Feasibility studies

Feasibility studies and cost estimating are based on several key criteria which are defined within two main areas of the project:
– technological infrastructure and services (IT)
– support infrastructure and services (non-IT)

The key criteria are:

Availability requirements

Firstly we have to determine the availability requirements. The initial demand is often 24x7x100%, but these expectations are usually lowered, when the costs of this level of service are presented.

Systeming uses the Uptime scale for data centre classification.

Power and cooling capacity

The next step in budgeting is to specify the capacity. This specification is essential for the project design. Output power density is the amount delivered to the critical load per unit of area and is directly related to the amount of heat that must be removed via the air conditioning system. Output power density is usually measured per rack rather than per square metre. Under normal circumstances, one rack produces 1 500 – 4 000 watts. However, racks with 1U servers, or racks with blade servers require (and therefore emit) a lot more energy than that. This can cause uneven output power density which is the greatest obstacle to optimum energy usage in data centres.

Business goals

The final criteria defining the budget are the costs connected with the whole data centre infrastructure in direct relation to the business goals. Selecting network services delivery has a great influence on the overall operation of the data centre. Unfortunately, the space dedicated to the facility is often directed by the company‘s management beforehand, which affects the project plans by setting limitations on the output power and cooling density and complicates the potential future growth.

Technology infrastructure and services (IT)

As mentioned before, the budgeting process divides the data centre design into the technology infrastructure (IT) and support (non-IT) infrastructure and services. The budget for technology infrastructure and services depends on the co-operation with the IT professionals, who can identify existing systems, assess future growth possibilities, evaluate restrictions and identify applications which support the core business strategies. Consequently, the budget of the support infrastructure and services is determined by the technology infrastructure, power density and required availability. Generally speaking, the greater the power density and availability, the greater the required support infrastructure and the higher the costs.
In the overall plans of the technology infrastructure, support infrastructure and services, the budget consists of the following parts:

  • Project management
  • Infrastructure design
  • Engineering
  • Architectural design
  • Construction/delivery
  • Efficient operation design

To summarize:

  1. Identification of the business goals or the services to be delivered through the data centre determines critical load.
  2. The power and cooling density requirements determine the extent of the support infrastructure. If the power output density for a single rack is greater than 4000 W, it is classified as a high-density zone and requires an above-average support infrastructure. For extremely high-density zones, the non-IT (support) area to IT area ratio is usually more than 2:1.
  3. Determining the availability required for a commercial data centre is the first step in the budgeting. Availability can be increased by incorporating redundancy into all main infrastructure systems. Maximum availability can only be achieved by:
  • Installing more than one active electric power supply route for power and cooling
  • Infrastructure which can be maintained without a global shut-down
  • Infrastructure resilient with respect to accidental mishandling.

Defining the criteria of the project design will lead to these three main points:

  • Space requirements
  • Budget requirements
  • Timing

It is difficult to generalize the budget for the technological infrastructure, because it depends on the type and utilization of the data centre, used platform, etc. However, it is not rare to consider cost per SQM or rack for project budgeting. Such unit cost can reach few thousands of Euro.