By Jim Marsh, Vice President, Business Development, CPG
I was recently prepping for a panel discussion for the CAPRE Data Center Summit in Chicago and I decided to sit down with one of our experts, Chad Towner – Critical Infrastructure Solutions (CIS) Architect at CPG, to discuss ideas for the panel. Over the last decade, Chad has changed the way data centers are developed and engineered. He’s deployed large scale, high-performance, critical systems and processes in hyper-scale, enterprise and colocated data centers. “BEST PRACTICES FOR PLANNING AND MANAGING TENANT FIT-OUTS IN WHOLESALE AND COLOCATION DATA CENTERS” is definitely in his wheelhouse.
First, Towner says you must provide clear definitions of what constitutes a white space fit-out. To define it isn’t always easy. In this ever-changing industry not everyone even uses the same terminology when talking about a fit-out: “tenant” in lieu of “white space” and you may hear “upfit” or “build-out” rather than “fit-out”. In the end we are talking about three main areas of deployment:
- The electrical power delivery from the base building perimeter Power Distribution Units (PDUs) to the IT racks
- Cooling from the base building heat rejection system to remove heat generated by the IT equipment in the racks
- Communications connectivity from the data carriers’ Meet Me Room (MMR) to the network switches in the racks.
Simply put, a successful white space fit-out provides a place you can roll racks into with power and communication available on location for plug in. The real work is in the details – what is the solution for today and the future. The options for cooling are many: cooling may be fixed in place in the way of containment or also a simple plug in for more localized heat exchange such as in-row coolers, rack mounted heat exchangers or a number of “direct-to-chip” fluid-based solutions. The cooling and power is what keeps the racks running, so it’s essential to have the right system.
White space fit-outs are essentially prepping ideal space for the rack, but there are instances where the white space fit-out scope will converge with the IT Infrastructure. The CIS team then needs to include the setup and installation of the IT racks themselves including the rack mounted PDUs. This step is often referred to as “Rack & Stack” and may include the loading of the IT gear into the racks if not preloaded by the technology vendors. Full-service companies like CPG have special teams that come in and work on the Rack & Stack.
The key to a truly successful fit-out according to Towner is to get working with clients as early as possible in the planning process. This allows the CIS team to assess how to best affect cost efficiencies based on increasing material volumes. Options include deploying multiple end-user clients in a colocation data center or deploying an end-user client in multiple colocation sites with one or more vendors. It can be a matter of “number of suites” combined with “number of phases,” a build scenario commonly used in Hyperscale data centers. And, the quickly evolving mile-by-mile edge market shows great potential for cost efficiencies and scalability, as well.
Teams like CPG’s CIS team are invaluable in the early stages of development, bringing extensive expertise honed though years of client-side experience. The goal is to get it right from design through commissioning, the first time, on time and on budget. The right result is “no change orders”, and a scalable solution that minimizes stranded capacity and maximizes efficiencies.