With few exceptions, every medical and financial institution, governmental body, multi-location company, and educational facility of a substantial size considers data one of its most valuable assets. By extension, data centers, the places that house an organization’s high-speed, high-demand computers and communications equipment, top the list of mission critical spaces. The consequences of lost or damaged data or interruption of services can be catastrophic.
Because of the absolute mechanical, electrical, and structural requirements of data centers, planning and designing them has become a specialty within the A/E industry – and one at which SSOE excels. The layout of the environment itself is subject to specific ways that servers can be racked, cabling can be run, and other equipment can be stored. To avoid the crisis of a malfunction, data centers must be highly controlled in terms of humidity, temperature, electrical power, flooding, fire, and physical security.
The Seimon Data Center Planning Guide explains the performance standards, “A properly designed data center will provide availability, accessibility, scalability, and reliability 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days per year minus scheduled downtime for maintenance.” Since many data centers have a goal of 99.9% uptime, uninterrupted service is often a requirement even during renovations.
To understand the specialized architectural and engineering services required for a typical data center, consider the main data processing facility project that SSOE completed for one of the nation’s largest health insurance providers. Special support systems for the space included an uninterrupted power system and an emergency generator, a Halon fire suppression system (Halon gas is an organic compound that chemically stops combustion and does not damage electrical equipment the way a conventional water sprinkler system would), a complete audio and video monitoring security system, raised access flooring with removable tiles for power cabling, an intelligent building system using a stand alone network to control the HVAC, mechanical system and lighting.
SSOE’s broad experience in planning and installing these systems was a key factor in being awarded the project.
SSOE’s work in university-based technology centers requires creating an infrastructure to support learning as well as high-level computer communication. In addition to the standard data center features, these environments often include video conferencing or production capabilities, connections to campus-wide fiber optic communications loops, and accommodations for interactive and distance learning.
For existing data centers, the critical need is to assure the integrity and adequacy of its current support systems and making upgrades as needed – with as little interruption of service as possible. The State of Tennessee’s data center, where SSOE completed multiple electrical and structural evaluations, is a good example. Along with designing a new battery system that weighed approximately 110,000 lbs., they recommended repairs to the floor that supports that weight.
Clients in many different sectors trust SSOE to execute the highly specialized requirements of data centers. Our exceptional professionals have a proven track record for keeping data safe and sound.
The Hourly Cost of Downtime
According to a study from Contingency Planning Research and Internetweek (4/3/2000) the hourly costs for downtime for various types of companies are listed below.
- Brokerage Operations
- Credit Card Authorizations
- Package Shipping
- Home Shopping Channel
- Airline Reservations
- Cellular Service Activations
- ATM Service Fees
It is not very difficult to see that downtime directly translates into dollars, and lots of them. Companies that provide data center components and equipment are sensitive to this and have made great strides in providing companies with viable, hearty solutions for their growing data stores and requirements.