Design for operation is the key to success

When customers are looking to build a new data centre, they often lose sight of the operational aspects of the facility.  ‘Design for operation’ is an  approach which focuses on the long term running of the facility when considering the initial design and one that we, as an industry, should be championing. Richard Clifford, Data Centre Consultant at Keysource explains.

Data centre standards

Whilst there are some good standards in our industry around data centre design including the Uptime Institute’s established Tier system, there is very little guidance in the market around the actual operation of a facility.  The Uptime Institute have introduced their Management & Operations (M&O) Stamp of Approval but it is relatively new and is not compelling for consultants and specialist contractors who are not involved in the ongoing management of the data centre. This means that organisations need to manage their risk carefully or they may end up with an expensive facility that is expensive to run and not fit for purpose.

The data centre design tenders and contracts we’ve seen rarely reference any kind of operational or FM standards and I would go as far to say that in many cases they are not considered at all. This can be for a number of reasons, the main one being that often the team that is tendering and procuring the data centre design is not the one that will be responsible for operating and maintaining it and these teams have not been consulted.

Importance of early engagement

Having over 30 years of experience designing, building and then operating data centres and other businesses critical facilities, we always encourage different stakeholders, both internal and external, to be part of the process from the outset, as we feel that this delivers the best results. This early engagement is key as not having all the stakeholders involved may mean that the team fails to consider the design implications on the maintenance requirements, Total Cost of Ownership or understand the risks around downtime as they often don’t have a specialist subject knowledge. This can be a key challenge for public sector organisations or SMEs where cost is the key driver and in-house resources are scarce.

The importance of this cannot be overstated and companies need to ask themselves operational questions, such as whether the design can continue to support the critical business services under maintenance conditions and how the maintenance will be undertaken? Can the design help to streamline the ongoing operation of the facility reducing risk and cost? For example does work need to be delivered out of hours, or can it be done during normal working hours thereby reducing servicing costs.

The design and build team may not understand the resilience factors but the FM teams will know that the data centre cannot be taken offline, and that concurrent maintainability should be considered as part of the solution.

The future of the data centre design

As an industry we need to put more of a focus on ensuring that data centres are ‘designed for operation’ and the team responsible for maintaining and running the facility is engaged from the outset.

Bringing together multiple stakeholders is always a challenge and it will need the industry to work together and be more open and engaging to share best practice and insight.  We should remember that the life of the data centre could be up to 25+ years and by taking a little more time in the early stages organisations can  ensure that the design will meet their requirements operationally and provide the best value for money at the lowest risk

Originally published by Digitalisation Word 

Keysource awarded major contract to design nationwide network of data centres throughout China

Chayora, a Hong Kong-based data centre infrastructure company, has chosen Keysource as its lead design consultancy partner for a nationwide network of world-class, licensed data centre campuses in some of China’s most important cities. These will enable international online companies to effectively access the vast and rapidly developing Chinese market, providing the most reliable and assured route to business engagement in the region.

It follows last week’s announcement that Chayora Holdings Limited has reached an agreement for Standard Chartered Bank Principal Finance to become the lead institutional investor in Chayora, securing a strategic minority stake and providing equity funding for key data centre development projects.

Under the terms of the deal, Keysource will be responsible for delivering strategic design advice and site master planning in the initial phase. Leading the design team, Keysource will then work with Chayora and its customers to deliver designs in accordance with client requirements, site plans and in country codes.

The fully enabled, state-of-the-art, licensed data centre campuses will be constructed in key locations across China – initially in Tianjin, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, offering a range of options such as Powered Land, Built-to-Suit, Assured Scalability and Wholesale Colocation

All Chayora sites have fully provisioned power from grid and direct feed renewable sources, and are fibre-connected to world-class standards, ready for data centre construction and immediate connection to the domestic internet. The campuses are very large creating technology districts in key cities.  For example in Tianjin, it is anticipated that up to 12 data centres will ultimately be constructed on the Chayora campus amounting to around 3.5 million sq ft of buildings, with around half that total in white space.

Commenting on the announcement Mike West, CEO at Keysource, said:

“This project builds on our growing experience in Asia, which will undoubtedly become the world’s largest data centre market. It is testament to the proven quality of our design consultancy and understanding of the global data centre market. This is a highly vibrant market and we believe we have the skills and expertise to continue to deliver outstanding results here.”

Oliver Jones, Chief Executive at Chayora, said:

“Keysource has been selected to provide services for Chayora based on the company’s unrivalled and proven capability to deliver world-class facilities. They have a strong understanding of our clients’ needs and are able to quickly translate business drivers into deliverable projects. Keysource has demonstrated a passion for engagement in China, understanding the regulatory environment whilst respecting cultural differences. This has underpinned the successful award of our first two Data Centre Operator’s Licences as part of the wider technical and commercial team.”

About Chayora: Chayora Holdings Limited is a Cayman Island company and is the 100% owner of Chayora Limited, headquartered in Hong Kong which develops large-scale, world-class designed and operated, long-term scalable data centres and data centre parks in China. Chayora serves global Fortune 500 companies and premium Chinese data centre users offering cloud services, ICT services, financial services or other services offerings relying on intensive, high quality data centre infrastructure in China.

Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust select Keysource for Data Centre Infrastructure Review

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust has appointed Keysource, the expert in business critical environments, to review its data centre infrastructure. This will involve benchmarking the data centres at each hospital to ensure the significant investment the Trust has made in its IT infrastructure is protected.

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust provides healthcare to 258,000 people across Southport, Formby and West Lancashire and the ongoing security and resilience of its data is a key consideration. Under the terms of the deal Keysource will also provide a clear strategy that will meet the Trust’s future data requirements, reduce running costs and minimise the risk of potential downtime. A further report will look at options to enhance the resilience and availability of the site.

The Keysource team will assess the critical power, distribution to the racks as well as cooling, monitoring and general layout of the data centres. The review will be conducted while the infrastructure is live so that critical services provided by the hospitals are not interrupted in any way.

Matt Connor, Head of IT at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said,

“We were looking for a partner who could help us to deliver industry best practice standards throughout our data centre estate and Keysource had the best credentials. We were both impressed and reassured by their approach from the outset and look forward to working closely with the team.”

Mike West, Managing Director at Keysource, added,

“This contract is the latest addition to our healthcare portfolio and further builds on our extensive expertise in the sector. We understand the challenges faced by public sector organisations in terms of resilience and cost and are ideally placed to help them meet their objectives.”

When is PUE not PUE?

When Data Centre designers and builders talk about the efficiency of the facilities they have designed and/or built in terms of the industry standard PUE, they often reference the design PUE. We look at why this can be misleading and why it is important to understand the difference.

This blog is part of a series looking at PUE and data centre monitoring; you can read our first post, which looks at what PUE is and why it is important here.

Design PUE – What is it?

When a new facility is designed, a PUE can be calculated based on the energy consumption of the proposed plant, cooling etc. as a measure of how efficient the solution could be. So why is this a problem?

Well, the PUE figure being quoted is often based on the premise that the data centre is actually running at 100% IT load. This is often unrealistic, as most data centres, especially in the colocation market build up their loads over time, with it taking anything from three years or more to get near to operating at full-load. In reality traditional data centre efficiency rapidly deteriorates at lower IT loads (most facilities never operate at 100%). This means that the suggested power efficiency levels will not come in to play for a significant time, if ever, and operating costs will be substantially higher than indicated by the Design PUE.

So what should you do to address this?

Whilst Keysource is reasonably unique in the fact that we have in-house design, project management and operation teams (which allow us to constantly feedback and learn from past projects) we would expect most data centre design and build companies to understand the fact that most facilities need to be efficient not only at full load but also at part load. They should take time with you to fully understand not only the technical requirements of the facility but also your business, so they can explain and work through this with you.

When this is not done it can cause problems as, understandably, it can have big impacts on your operating costs. This limitation of the PUE calculation is of particular importance to companies that are working to tight margins to provide for example, cloud services and colocation services.

To keep operational costs under control, it is often best to consult with specialist data centre designers. They will be able to advise you on the best technologies to deploy that drive down part load operating costs from the start and who will be able to work with you to fully meet your business and technical requirements.

Sounds good, but how can this work in practice?

We recently completed a data centre for colocation specialist; ITPS (read the case study). Part of our process was to really understand their business objectives and use our experience within the regional colocation market to propose a solution that would deliver not only the highest efficiency but also allow high densities to be deployed anywhere within the data centre. Knowing that this efficiency was needed from day one the design was built to be highly efficient at part load. To further enhance this a modular solution was used to allow ITPS to deploy more cooling and plant as required rather than having it all in place on day one.

If you would like to understand more about PUE you can read our previous posts which explain the different ways PUE can be measured or download the top 10 things you need to know about PUE. As you may have guessed, it’s one of the areas we are passionate about so please call us and speak to one of the team.

We are happy to talk you through any of the issues and answer any questions about your current or planned facility’s PUE and, if required, give you some more information on how you can increase the efficiency of your facility.

Independent Auditing – Delivering real benefits

By Justin Busk – Head of SHE

As we move into a new year thoughts often turn to bettering yourself – a new year new you senario, you make plans to go to the gym more; complete dry January (we’ve made it!) or take up a new hobby, but the same is often not the case for businesses.  We are not experts in psychology so couldn’t explain this but we are experts in data centres and critical environments, and especially how to optimise them.  So today we are looking at auditing and how it can help inform and contribute to a wider plan to improve or develop parts of your business!

At Keysource we have an independent expert team of auditors that specialise in critical facilities and environments. We believe this is a natural fit with the consultancy part of our business which covers all aspects of data centre design, build and management, in addition to niche areas such as safety, health, environment and compliance.

Auditing is a great way to test the reliability, resilience, efficiency and effectiveness of the policies, systems and procedures in any business. This is particularly important in critical environment arena and can form the basis for major business decisions moving forward.

An external audit will enable you to identify gaps and recognise improvement opportunities which can have a fundamental effect on the development of your business. It will also give you the data to be able to convince other organisations that you are a suitable partner for them or to lobby for additional resources. Findings can also help you to address specific issues, build and deliver business cases and form the basis of strategic planning.

Unlike many companies undertaking audits at Keysource we are less focussed on the actual report itself, and more interested in the results and how to address and/or maximise the findings. That said we do follow certain standard procedures for every audit we do, such as establishing the right team of auditors and ensuring each member possesses the relevant technical experience, skill-set, knowledge and experience to help you gain maximum benefit and insight.

However after that the audit is entirely bespoke and can be aligned with any specific circumstances and objectives. It might include reviewing opportunities for improvement, gap analysis, potential legal compliance risk, good practices and agreed follow up plans. These will be discussed during a closing meeting and developed and implemented with additional support if necessary.

To maintain further impartiality and transparency the audit team is always led by a lead auditor who is a member of IRCA (International Register of Certificated Auditors). The lead auditor ensures that the audit process aligns with the three main dimensions to auditing; Intent, Implementation and Effectiveness.

We have been an approved official auditor for the DCA Data Centre Certification Scheme since 2014 which verifies facilities’ compliance and provides greater clarity for buyers and specifiers. It identifies and verifies four key areas of a facility, namely resilience, physical site security, energy efficiency credentials, and operational professionalism.

If you are interested in speaking to us about our auditing capabilities please contact: Justin Busk on [email protected].

If you would like to know more about the different certifications available, you can watch our webinar recording or see our analysis of the data centre certification landscape.

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