The Stack Archive Report

Simplify the Data Center Planning Process with Reference Designs

Fri 14 Oct 2016

It probably should go without saying that the planning phase is crucial to any data center project. But the specific planning process you use will go a long way toward how successful the data center will ultimately be in delivering on the requirements it was intended to meet.

Schneider Electric has some sound advice on the topic, and lays it out in a new eBook, “A Practical Guide to Data Center Planning and Design.” The process is intended to ensure the right decision makers get the right information at the most appropriate time. It involves just four tasks, as follows:

Establish key project parameters to control the system architecture and budget
Develop a system concept
Incorporate user preferences and constraints
Determine implementation requirements
Looking at the list, if you’re like me number 2 may jump out as one that could take considerable time. But, as the guide makes clear, it doesn’t have to at all, thanks to the availability of numerous reference designs from the likes of Schneider Electric.

The key step to fulfilling task 2 is merely selecting a reference design. At first blush that may seem like a difficult task, given that Schneider Electric alone offers 40 designs in its data center reference design library.

It’s not. The guide provides six project parameters – criticality, capacity, growth, efficiency, density and budget – to act as a guide in choosing a reference design (or, more accurately, in ruling out some designs).

Schneider Electric reference designs reflect the company’s decades of experience in building data centers – what worked and what didn’t.

What’s more, they’re not static, take it or leave it designs. Rather, you can adapt them to fit your specific requirements. Joe Reele, who heads up the Datacenter Solution Architects group at Schneider Electric, put it well in a blog post in which he likens reference designs to building with Legos:

One size does not fit all, so we realize that you’re looking for flexible solutions in everything that you do. When you buy a box of Legos, there may be instructions on how to build a race car, but really there’s nothing stopping you from building any other sort of car.  Reference Designs [are] customizable in the same way—the different inputs you put into the model will create different outputs.

Customers report getting real benefits from reference designs. One consulting firm manager wrote the following note to Schneider Electric’s Patrick Donovan, as Donovan reports in this blog post:

“What attracted me to the reference designs was that I have previously spent a lot of time and effort putting together a bespoke high level data center design for clients and it seemed I was reinventing the wheel each time. The reference design covers the high level requirements of my clients and gives them quickly a realistic view of the project so we can kick off the project faster in a more controlled and deterministic fashion.”

If there’s a data center project in your future, do yourself a favor and check out the new Schneider Electric eBook, “A Practical Guide to Data Center Planning and Design.” In addition to more tips on the planning process, you’ll learn more about issues including cost analyses, site selection and best practices drawn from three actual customers.

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