Data Center Capacity Planning in a Retrofit or New Build

RJ Tee
January 18, 2016

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If you gathered data center operators from some of the world’s top brands to discuss capacity planning, you could probably pick up a helpful tip or two on how to plan for a new build or retrofit.

In fact, that’s what our friends at Datacenter Dynamics Intelligence did when they set out to interview 15 data center owners and operators from companies as varied as Cisco WebEx, and ING Bank about capacity planning best practices. The resulting study provides a wealth of common-sense tips for those tackling either new builds or retrofits.

Some highlights from the study:


The first - and most important step - is to set a baseline understanding of what your power, infrastructure, cooling, and space requirements are. Along with this, you need to have a firm grasp on your company’s strategy, its IT priorities, your build or buy options, and a good sense of historic power usage. Then, you need to conduct your own research. Talk to your peers. Talk to vendors. Attend conferences. Even tap into the power of Google if needed.

In a retrofit, you’ll need to be primarily concerned with the issues of your existing limitations of power, cooling, and space in your facility. Reviewing device life cycles will help you introduce sustainable components into your data center. It’s also important to forecast your projected power draw and facility life expectancy as you plan.

New Builds

Those building new facilities will want to choose locations and build specifications that allow for consideration of both modular and traditional designs as well as the ease of future upgrades. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the requirements of the applications you’ll be running. Ask questions such as, “Do we want to focus on high-density modular racks to maximize utilization via advanced virtualization?”

Other key takeaways:

  • Run with your plan, but remain open to new opportunities.
  • Don’t be overly optimistic with the forward scope of your plan. Two to three years was the typical planning horizon for those interviewed.
  • Align the capacity plan with customer objectives.
  • Be honest and look at reality – operations will usually over-specify the capacity they need.
  • Plan the power to meet the cabinet needs for what’s coming.
  • Measure twice, cut once and build as much as you can afford.

As the Power Strategy Experts, Server Technology can help you with your plans – whether they’re for a new data center or a retrofit of an existing facility. Learn more in the DCD study or contact us for all of your power needs.

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