There are a number of firms who specialize in data center design and do a great job. Unfortunately, there are many more who continue to design and build data centers with glaring problems. Having to move organizations into these brand new but defficient data centers makes me question if the designers have ever reconciled their designs with real, operational data centers?
Raised Floor or Not? Raised floor isn’t dead or even wounded. Just make sure the depth of the raised floor is adequate to provide the plenum of air volume you need. Also be certain that conduit and chilled water isn’t indiscriminately placed blocking airflow and underfloor paths. Use the correct raised floor for the job and familiarize yourself with zinc wiskers before approving the floor type. If you decide to go without raised floor for a large space, be certain you’ve properly accounted for the implications of that decision.
Power: Under or Over? Understand the issues of both methods. Run power from PDU (Power Distribution Units) in conduit to avoid EMI (Electro Magnetic Interference) issues even if you run it overhead.
Hot and Cold Aisles Matter. Ask to see the designer’s modeling of the data center’s hot and cold aisles. I’m guessing you’ll be met with blank stares. Most just plunk down the CRAC (Computer Room Air Conditioners) units around the perimeter of the data center and have no idea how the data center will perform with respect to static air pressure and cooling.
Don’t waste your expensive raised floor ! Not everything belongs on the raised floor. UPS systems with batteries belong in their own room. Putting them on the raised floor wastes expensive square footage.
The Patching Dilemma. Most data center designs do not properly incorporate the operational need for patching both fiber and copper in the data center. At the time of the design, the fiber and copper counts per cabinet are often unknown. As a result, the design typically provides some overhead ladder rack and the new owner is left to string patch cables from cabinet to cabinet. You’ll likely need to add fiber tray, backbone fiber and copper, and central patching fields to the design.
Grounding. A proper design will have a drawing describing all aspects of grounding in the data center. Don’t leave this up to electricians during the building phase.