Info Paper

Building Blocks of a New Data Centre Standard

By: Lex Coors

In our previous blogs (see ‘The Risk of Using Limiting Standards’ and ‘The Need For a Review of Data Centre Design Standards’) we argued the data centre industry needs an open-source data centre design standard that complements existing standards. A flexible, dynamic standard that promotes innovation in sustainable data centre design.

But what could this model look like and how could it work? Read on to find out the proposed building blocks of a new data centre design standard.

The proposed model scores designs on 3 factors:
1. Resilience: each component of the design can be scored on its resilience, with the sum of components adding up to a total score (i.e. resilient design of any component results in a higher score). The total score will be an indicator of the resilience of the end-to-end design and should be complementary to existing, fixed classification standards. In the figure below we score resilience on a scale from 1 (low resilience) to 10 (high resilience) for each layer.
2. Sustainability: based on the energy sources used, the design can be classified based on an ‘energy label’ indicating the level of sustainability. In the figure below we label sustainability from A (high level of sustainability) to F (low level of sustainability)
3. Efficiency: it is proposed to use PUE to classify the efficiency of the data center design, given its acceptance as an indicator of efficiency.

To keep overhead costs low, the new standard could include an easy-to-use, open-source tool or application, maintained by a non-commercial governing body like The Green Grid. Data centre engineering departments and consultants could use such a tool to upload designs ranked on 3 aforementioned criteria – resilience, sustainability and efficiency – facilitating industry collaboration and innovation.

This model will give companies looking to build data centres the ability to select the design that best fits their resilience, sustainability, and efficiency requirements, or select a service provider with a data centre design to deliver the required service level agreements.

The above outlined building blocks of an alternative data centre classification system are intended as a basis for further discussion. We are calling for an industry-wide exchange to build support for a flexible and open standard, operated by a non-commercial organization which accepts input and welcomes cross-industry collaboration from all stakeholders.