Squaring the Circle – Do Design Standards Hold Back Data Centre Innovation?

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Upgrading legacy corporate data centres to handle ever-increasing social media, mobile, big data and cloud workloads requires significant investment. Yet over 70% of data centre managers* are being asked to deliver future-ready infrastructure with reduced budgets.

Especially in regulated industries - such as banking, insurance and healthcare - many enterprises feel they have to sacrifice efficiency in order to follow industry standards to the letter, resulting in even higher building and operating costs.

At the same time, the business case for building in-house data centres is not helped by the fact that web-scale cloud providers such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google typically operate at as much as one tenth of the cost of traditional in-house data centres.

When talking to customers and prospects, we often encounter examples of in-house data centres where standards have been followed to the letter at the expense of design excellence and efficiencies. Sometimes customers are not aware, but often efficiency is willingly sacrificed because industry standards ‘must’ be followed, resulting in higher data centre building and operating costs.

But what if you could square the circle: optimise your data centre’s design beyond industry standards by incorporating the latest innovations, while achieving a significant increase in efficiency and still maintaining the required availability?

The standards as a foundation for innovation

While recognising the importance of standards and incorporating elements of The Uptime Institute, TIA and BICSI in our design, Interxion is constantly incorporating data centre innovations that enable us to run our data centres more efficiently. We have saved €millions on Capex and Opex through advanced design and innovation and realised major efficiency gains while maintaining 8*9 statistical availability. Some examples of where we have improved upon existing standards include:

  • The use of gas suppression as a preferred fire-protection method instead of sprinkler systems, allowing the IT system to continue to operate
  • If allowed by law, we do not use emergency power off systems except for data centre equipment and rotating equipment such as diesel generators, also allowing the IT system to continue to operate
  • We’ve banned PVC-coated cables from IT rooms altogether, as the residue from PVC would damage the IT system during a fire
  • We’ve introduced an alternative design for Tier-IV statistical availability. As a result, The Uptime Institute changed the Tier Standard in 2010 to a more open approach that outlines the requirements rather than providing a single line diagram. Assuming a 1,000 sq m data centre designed for 2 KvA/m2 customer load, this alternative design saves €3.3 million in construction and replacement Capex, and €245,000 per year in energy costs.

Squaring the circle

This illustrates that it is possible to optimise your data centre’s design beyond industry standards by incorporating the latest innovations, while achieving a significant increase in efficiency and still maintaining the required availability. By optimising data centre design beyond the industry standard and incorporating the latest innovations, enterprises can realise a significant increase in efficiency and still achieve 8*9 statistical availability. Regulated industries would achieve the same stringent security and governance requirements, but at a significantly lower cost and with the same reliability.

In other words, you do not have to be a web-scale company to achieve Capex and Opex benefits from advanced data centre design and innovation.

To read more into this click here to download our Technical Brief in partnership with Datacentre Dynamics

*Source: Datacenter Dynamics, 2014 Census