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Design Best Practices for Data Centers

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Radio stations handle large amounts of data. While many may not think of the station as being a data center, in reality it is. This article on data center design considerations can apply to a radio station's IT facilities as well.

Data centers are going through revolutionary changes, due to changing market conditions and technological demands; these include the inability to secure large sums of capital dollars to fund data center projects, the high cost of energy, and the pursuit of a "low carbon diet," in the wake of recent cap-and-trade legislation.

But these are not the only issues driving these transformations. Vital new information technologies -- such as cloud computing and virtualization -- force fundamental changes in the design, operation and planning of a data center. On the other side, the data center containerization industry (DCCI) aims to have the capital investment associated with power and cooling infrastructure be a direct match with computing. Even the UPS industry is in competition for the most efficient and scalable products, with containerized power and cooling solutions to consider. Having a firm design foundation that can adapt to change is paramount to a facility's success.

Start with the Design Objective

Whether it's new construction, a facility upgrade, or operating an existing mission-critical facility, it is important to carefully plan the work and to work the plan. In the design phase, it is crucial to consult with design teams experienced in the design of the particular type of mission-critical facilities that your organization requires.

Without this expert input, the desired design is too often not fully-developed or is too vague to specific design and business objectives. A well-created design document will start with a narrative of the project background and provide a detailed discussion of the required objectives and goals. Required functional uses and requirements of the mission-critical facility should be clearly explained. While often difficult to quantify, performance and maintenance criteria should also be addressed. Finally, the expected lifespan and overall quality of the project needs to be defined.

A comprehensive plan is crucial for all involved parties to succeed in achieving maximum uptime in a mission-critical facility. Without it, too much interpretation by the various teams involved, can lead to compromises and miscommunications that weaken the integrity of everything that follows. Upfront planning can be tedious, exacting work; however, it is crucial in ensuring the finished facility will turn out precisely as intended, both initially and in the long term.

Fundamental to the successful design and maximum uptime of the facility is how the energy and cooling systems are handled. And now with green initiatives -- driven by both public and political pressure -- getting this right can be far more complex. However, there are new tools that significantly aid in proper design and also help to predict performance behaviors, in order to maximize the highest level of uptime while incorporating energy-efficiency strategies.

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