So now you want more. You want additional data center facilities to put in extra servers, data storage units, racks, cabling, and network connections because your current data center is already maxed out. Data center expansion sounds like the way to go if you can get budget approval. The question is: what should go into the budget?
Building It and Running It
Even if the initial estimate for constructing an add-on facility raises eyebrows, you’ll need to factor in operational costs as well. The total cost of ownership or TCO is the overall metric to use. IT hardware and software vendors have been using this concept for decades, so it should be easy enough to grasp in terms of data center expansion too.
Specifying the New DC Facility
If you already have one data center in operation, will the additional one simply be more of the same? Not necessarily, for the following reasons:
- Data center technology continues to evolve (a DC over 7 years old is considered to be obsolete by industry observers Gartner, Inc.)
- Your own business needs may have evolved. Perhaps you started with Tier 1 facilities, but now you need Tier 4 (or even vice versa).
- Your first DC was over or under-dimensioned. There’s no point in repeating earlier mistakes.
Floor space, availability/business continuity, power requirements, and desired location are then major factors that will determine the right choice of a site. However, grabbing a site first because it is affordable, available or both, and then trying to shoehorn new DC facilities into it is the wrong way round.
Numbers for Budgets Don’t Come Out of Hats
They are unlikely to come from publicly available web pages, either. Web pages can give you a hint of what’s in store and quote sample figures for costs per square foot or per megawatt of power. However, even if you end up in the right ballpark for your project, this may be no more than a coincidence. Budgeting typically needs to be zero-based (from scratch), starting with business objectives (capacity, security, future needs) that are then accurately translated into DC building characteristics and features.
Extra Bits and Pieces
Data center expansion is already a complex matter for the reasons given above. Two further things can upset an otherwise carefully prepared budget:
- Items you forgot to include, such as the possible cost of moving systems and data between the current DC and the new facility.
- Factors like LEED project and construction criteria to help make the new facility as ecologically friendly as possible.
Wow, Is It Really Going to Cost That Much?
Some additional data center facilities are very big-ticket items. After previously spending around $120 million on its data center facilities in Singapore, Google then signed off on a $380 million expansion. Budgets can also be bigger than funds available, whatever the levels under discussion. If so, other solutions may be preferable. They may include the use of colocation facilities, where all-in monthly fees can be easier to handle as well as being more affordable.
Is modular design the solution for easy expansion of data centers? Share your opinion with us with a line or two in the space for comments below.
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