Flexible Design - Capacity on Demand

The key to avoiding the wasted cost of overbuilding data center capacity lies in the implementation of “Capacity on Demand” data center design strategies. We say strategies because there are multiple approaches to solving this challenge and Integrated Design Group has significant experience using all of them, either singularly or more commonly in combination.

Capacity on Demand can be broken down into three basic categories:

  • Planned Phased Deployment.
  • Modular Systems and Component as a “kit of parts”.
  • Totally off site constructed modular building.

ID has extensive experience with all three, but the utilization of a combination of planned phased deployment and modular systems has often proven to be the most effective option.

Regardless of the approach selected, using load on demand strategies allow firms to build only what is projected to be required in the short term, often two to four years. The size of this window needs to be established based on each firm’s ability to manage, project, and react to short term growth needs. Conservatively, a well-planned load on demand strategy can delivery new data center infrastructure in a predetermined building block, be it 100KW, 500KW, 1 MW or even larger in less than six months. If you can safely predict capacity requirements one year in advance, then the initial build can be based on 2-3 years of projected need with provisions for growth. If not, a large initial build may be appropriate.

A planned phased deployment is the approach most firms have utilized for years. This approach is simply planning for future growth and making appropriate provisions such as running conduit, allocating space and pouring equipment pods or preparing a site with foundations while utilizing a traditional design and construction methodologies. This approach has proven successful for many years but has often resulted in higher overall costs than the use of modular components or a kit of parts approach.

The modular component approach starts with a traditionally built data center shell building but then utilizes modular, factory built MEP systems. One example is the use of factory built electrical rooms that can be shipped to the site and installed in a space designed to receive them in days rather than weeks or months. The factory built approach improves quality, lowers cost and accelerates schedule. We have used factory built components for virtually any and all MEP systems with success.

The factory built data center is a less common approach that has proven successful for firms looking to for the added tax advantage associated with equipment depreciation but in our experience this approach has not provided the cost savings that can be found in the modular systems installed in a traditional shell building. (Please refer to Fidelity Investment’s project page for a demonstration of success with this approach to see the advantages in detail)