How is data center construction different than other projects?

While office building projects are likely to slow down due to COVID-19, the construction of data centers is increasing. Increasing numbers of industries are using digital technology to collect data on their target customers and monitor responses to their products. Not every company that relies on data collection has access to the necessary infrastructure, instead using external data centres. Now that the majority of businesses have ‘gone online’ during lockdown, there is a greater need for data management, which in turn is boosting demand for new data centres.

Data centre servers

In 2020, the global market for data centre construction was estimated to be worth £15 billion and is projected to reach £24 billion by 2027. According to a forecast by Gartner, end-user spending on data center infrastructure will reach £155 billion in 2021, a 6% increase from 2020. The data center market is also expected to grow every year through to 2024. That is despite a 10.3% drop in data center spending in 2020 due to restricted cash flow during the pandemic.

‘Edge Computing’ is a key example of developing technology, driven by demand for faster responses. The process of edge computing distributes data services as close to the user as possible, which means data centres range in size and location according to need. Some businesses might be able to host a micro data center at their physical location. For small and medium businesses or those without in-house expertise, it is probably more reliable to outsource to a local data center. Additionally, there is increasing regulatory pressure to store and process data within the country of its origin, so cloud-based companies and even tech giants like Microsoft are looking for local data centers.

Differences in Data Center building

Building a data center is different from building a multi-purpose or nondescript structure. In addition to the building’s design, reliability and high quality are key to protecting the servers inside. 

There are key differences that need to be taken into account when building a data center, including operations. Unlike other buildings, data center design must incorporate strategic cooling systems to lower the risk of damaging equipment. Data center managers must keep close track of energy use, so resource monitoring systems are necessary. Construction workers will need to know how to efficiently leverage the equipment and floor space of the building.

As you might expect, high power equipment results in massive energy usage. According to a Forbes report from Dec. 2017, data centers use approximately 3% of the world’s total electricity. Due to the rising demand for data centers, it is crucial that contractors and owners account for sustainability. 

Lastly, select the physical design and location of data centers with great care. To reduce the risk of an access breach, additional security considerations must be in place. This includes features such as gated access points, fenced enclosures and surveillance systems. When choosing a location, it’s important to consider demand, real estate prices, cost of power, and talent availability. However, data center construction should also avoid high-risk areas, including those prone to environmental hazards or with unstable local infrastructure. It also goes without saying that the area’s internet connectivity is vital. 

Bidding for Data Centre Projects

When submitting a request for information during the procurement process, clients will be looking for vendors who can safely fulfill the additional considerations of building a data center. When bidding for data center projects, builders need to include information on their electrical safety procedures, injury reporting process, communications, and methods for performing hazard analysis. Clients want to see that potential contractors have understood and planned for the additional challenges of designing and building a data center. It is important that developers ask the right questions to avoid complications.

Is the data center fit for purpose? Data centers house, protect, and distribute parts of internet technology, operations, and hardware. As technology becomes more efficient, it triggers a demand for increased capacities which require a new set of technologies. Data centers need to be robust and flexible to adapt to changing technology.

Is proper maintenance simple? Increased demand for data management also means a rising demand for the specialist equipment needed for data handling. This includes servers, computers, networking equipment like routers or switches, or security components like biometric security sensors. Facility managers of data centers must keep track of all of these systems to avoid breakdowns.

Is the data center sufficiently protected against damage? There are several safety factors to be aware of when building a data center: security, power, and cabling. Most importantly, digital equipment generates heat, so builders need to pay attention to the heating and ventilation of the site. To maintain a safe environment when working with electronics, humidity, and even building pressure needs to be controlled.

How can PlanRadar help?

Data center construction is a complex project, and construction management software like PlanRadar are helpful tools for tracking every detail. Specifically, PlanRadar allows contractors to easily hand over all building data to facility managers who can then use PlanRadar to carry out scheduled maintenance and report issues. Using a consistent system when designing, building, and operating a data center means that it’s easier to prevent and resolve issues with the building.

To ensure functioning within operating parameters and regulations, data centers undergo periodic audits to follow compliance requirements. PlanRadar ensures high build quality by improving communication, the sharing of plans and tasks, and creating a clear audit trail of all work carried out on-site. Using PlanRadar, you can create a simple handover protocol helping you to collect all necessary data digitally, adding notes or snags during the final inspection.

Data centers also need scrupulous maintenance. PlanRadar allows contractors to easily hand over all building data to facility managers who can then use PlanRadar to carry out scheduled maintenance and report issues. This includes coordinating maintenance checks, listing repairs, taking inventories, and arranging technical maintenance work.

Find out more about how PlanRadar can help navigate the additional challenges of data center construction. You can book a free consultation or sign up for a free trial to test its features for yourself.