Risks of the data center: we built, built and finally built ... Or actions at the construction site

    You have allocated a place for the data center, decided on its reliability, selected contractors and are ready to begin its most complex process - construction? Stop! From this moment on, any mistake entails not just expenses, but sometimes very high expenses. With more than a decade of experience building data centers, we want to share some points that should be closely monitored.

    First, make sure that all ducts, pipes, and cables located on separate plans do not actually intersect. Would it not be a surprise to you at a certain stage of construction that the UPS is located next to the central heating pipe and that the power cables need to be pulled through the duct?

    Partially help in this matter can 3D-design. The 3D model facilitates the perception of the entire data center and allows you to consider the location of any of its systems both separately and in combination. You can create such a model using various programs, for example, we get the following data center projects:


    About subordination and interaction

    But the 3D model, unfortunately, does not always save from the initiatives of Russian builders or guests from the south involved in this process. For justified or not very good reasons, installers may deviate from the project, so it is very important to agree that all corrections are agreed with the general designer and that no chaos occurs on the site.

    The issue of subordination at the construction site is one of the main ones. The best option is when the installation team reports to the integrator. Builders must be included in the project team, and not be hired separately by the customer.

    For example, one of the customers hired an installation team to strengthen the floors. But it cannot be said that he saved on this. The team was not part of the team of the general contractor, and after some time, to strengthen the structure, she built a wall in the middle of the server room. Is it necessary to say that it was not in the data center project? As a result, I had to revise the project and enter the data center in a new room, as well as wait for new surprises from the builders, instead of working together as a team.

    It is equally important that the general designer and the general contractor are one and the same person, as the first lays the concept for many years to come, and the second knows how to better implement it. But if they are different people and there is discord between them, wait for trouble. In one of these situations, the project documentation was simply abandoned. The assembly of the entire system was carried out not according to the approved drawings, but according to the schemes of the foreman without a single signature. As a result, an incorrectly mounted system, a failed project, and the dismissal of the foreman.

    Trust but check!

    The construction of the data center is a specific process, and it will be not only much more difficult for an ordinary construction team to do the job properly, but also to evaluate all the possible risks to the end.

    Proven contractors are at the heart of the data center. Previous joint work experience in a single team is the guarantor of responsibility and reliability of builders. The teams hired by the customer are conditionally cheaper. But low price often means low quality. There were cases when low-skilled builders stacked bricks and building materials under the raised floor, and the customer discovered them a few years later. Or, when in one of the server rooms the builders made an uneven floor, but tightened it with a correction (it is possible that on purpose). The customer needed to run the data center as quickly as possible, and the installers installed racks. As a result, it was no longer possible to correct the floor, as the team happily announced to the integrator.

    It is necessary to remember the author's supervision and professional technical supervision. Moreover, it is necessary to control not only the work performed, but also the conditions in which the workers are. More than once, unscheduled inspections by management revealed a complete violation of sanitary standards, living conditions of people and storage of project documentation. To find something in such conditions is almost impossible, which once again confirms the importance of order and the place of work, and the organization of the staff.

    The order of equipment does not directly relate to the construction of the data center, but it affects it very much. The carelessness of one of the parties - the supplier or the ordering - sometimes leads to serious changes in the project due to the equipment already paid and delivered. You have to either follow the path of long approvals with the designer, or make adjustments right at the construction site. Once, due to an error in the order, air conditioners came in, larger in size than the door. In order to bring them into the server room, I had to make a separate opening. Any company that is engaged in the construction of a data center has more than one example of such curiosities. And they hire a crane to pull the servers to the 10th floor, and make holes in the floor so that the UPS can lower the cellar into the basement ...

    The construction phase is the most difficult one, at which all errors made at the planning and design stages become obvious and corrected. We have described far from all the surprises that you can meet at the site. Probably, it will not be possible to foresee all situations and curious cases, so carefully check the initial project and choose contractors well. Their reliability is the reliability of your entire data center and the peace of your nerves. And let your data center be built according to the project!

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