Data centre design: Where to begin

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So, you need a data centre. Where do you begin?

First off, consider what you need it for, how much data needs to be supported, your back-up options and processes. Start by taking into account the following:


You need to ensure you have access to the power you require, and back-up power is just as critical.  Bear in mind that while you may have generators providing emergency power, you also need battery back-up that can provide power for at least 150 per cent longer than the time it takes for the generators to come back online.

Back-up generators need enough energy to last for at least 48 hours, while a tried and tested protocol in the event of mains power failure is essential.


Do not rely on standard internet access from one ISP, as you will need a lot bandwidth capacity and you need back-up too. If you employ more than one ISP make sure that the two ISPs do not share bandwidth, especially in the ‘last mile.’


It is crucial that you have someone involved in the project who understands WAN routing. This individual needs to be able to diagnose problems when they arise.

Redundancy for the core system is equally important. Achieve this by making sure that the entire system has back-up which you test thoroughly and regularly.

Data centres generate a lot of heat, and indeed noise. Thus, adequate cooling technology will be needed, and more than one thermostat should be employed to effectively monitor temperature fluctuations.

Sufficient back-up is also a key necessity; you need to know that air cooling systems and batteries will remain operational in the event of an outage.

Security is a priority across today’s online domain. As such, only authorised individuals should be permitted into the centre, while locking systems need to be installed to prevent illegal entry.

One potential threat to your data centre is fire. You need to install sufficient fire prevention technologies such as Halon, a liquefied, compressed gas that stops the spread of fire by chemically disrupting combustion.

Ensure that the entire data centre is monitored at all times so that you are instantly aware in the event of any system disruption. You can mitigate against the likelihood of anything going wrong by updating hardware and software regularly.

Above all, back-up is key across all facets of the centre. Not only for data, power, and in case of equipment failure but staff too; individuals and teams need to be on standby and on site if necessary to deal with any issues promptly.

Data centre management is a major responsibility, but don’t try to take short-cuts. If something goes wrong the consequences can be damaging and far-reaching.




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