How are data centre designed?

Data centre design encompasses the architectural layout, IT devices and data centre infrastructure. It may be completed with diagram systems, documents or both. Data centre design is critical in improving efficiency in the data centre.

Data centres themselves are comprised of multiple servers in rooms or buildings and typically host business-critical applications. Electronic exchange of data is now needed for almost every business transaction, so data needs to be kept running at speed and scale to support organisational strategy as volumes continue to grow. Reliability is vital, with the immediate retrieval of information both beneficial from a business sense and increasingly mandatory from a regulatory standpoint.

What are the physical components of a data centre?

Typically, a data centre comprises of the following physical components: servers, routers, firewalls, switches, storage and cyber security systems. The building itself will typically be a steel and concrete construction over several storeys, providing high levels of security, power and cooling. Telehouse North Two for example is spread over 19,000m2, with five floors of IT technical space, four service floors and an additional two-storey generator building.

Leading data centres will include gated entrances combined with a security management system to prevent any unauthorised access to the site. Time-limited and proximity card access means access can be issued only to authorised facilities and management suites within the building. Alarms can report to a manned security suite when any unauthorised access is attempted.

In addition to security systems, data centres also require equipment to keep the facility running smoothly and efficiently. This can include power and cooling equipment to maintain the temperature and availability of systems.

A large proportion of the UK’s data centres, including Telehouse, now use electricity from 100% renewable sources procured from certified wind, solar, biomass and hydro generators.

Key considerations for any data centre design

When designing a data centre, the following need to be taken into account:

  • Type of design: Data centre design will largely depend on whether it is a new build or refurbishment of an existing building or facility. The latter may have more limitations, however, achieving innovation through design is still possible as shown in the case of Telehouse South.
  • Power: Wind, solar, biomass and hydro generators are the renewable energy sources that should be incorporated to power modern data centres, with the average power per rack usually coming in at between 1 to 3kW. Leading hubs provide access to 2.7MW of power per floor, with dual redundant, diverse route power feeds, N+1 redundancy generators and 2N UPS configuration.
  • Cooling: The method in which cooling is facilitated is also crucial in ensuring energy efficiency in a data centre. Indirect adiabatic cooling systems use a means of heat exchange between the server room’s warm air and the external air. This method provides a high cooling capacity while reducing power consumption, and therefore has a positive impact on the amount of energy used by the data centre.
  • Connectivity: How customers and service providers will connect within the data centre should be a key consideration. Carrier neutral facilities, like Telehouse South, offer interconnections between multiple carriers and service providers, so customers and carriers can choose who they connect to and when, depending on their objectives. The location of Meet-Me rooms, where carriers and service providers connect, is particularly important.
  • Automation: Automation should be incorporated where possible to improve the efficiency of the data centre. For example, artificial intelligence could enable automatic monitoring of power supply systems, facilitating automatic change from one efficiency mode to another depending on the load of the system. Machine learning can also be used to predict events based on factors such as external ambient temperatures, with reactions made accordingly.
  • Location: The physical location of a data centre infrastructure can have a direct impact the speed and latency of data transfer. Proximity to the city of London is particularly important for

trading, where shaving milliseconds off the length of a transaction could be worth millions. This is why Telehouse chose London Docklands as the home for its UK data centre campus.

Common mistakes in data centre design and planning

Common mistakes typically made during data centre design and planning include the following:

  • Designs that are overly complicated from the outset.
  • Poor cost-to-build estimating, where financial requests to the board are usually not sufficient.
  • Poor space planning and site selection before the design criteria is set.
  • Failure to consider the total cost of ownership during the design phase, with capital expense, operations and maintenance expense and energy costs being key requirements of a data centre strategy.
  • Exclusively using modular designs, with flexibility also a crucial component to achieve long-term success.
  • Failing to understand both Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria, which can be obtained using the Commercial Interiors Checklist, and power usage effectiveness (PUE).
  • Insufficiently set performance characteristics and design criteria.

How to choose the right data centre?

Determining where and how to house your IT infrastructure is a fundamental business decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. With the right partner, colocation provides near-perfect conditions for taking digital projects over the finish line. Below are six must-haves when looking for a data centre provider:

  • Connectivity: A carrier-dense colocation data centre that can facilitate vital business interconnections, whether with major cloud service providers, ISPs, ASPs or CDNs, will ultimately help you create new business opportunities, open doors to new markets, and enable growth on an unimaginable scale.
  • Resilience: Ensure that your provider has a fail-safe power supply should something go wrong. Telehouse is one of the only companies in the UK to own and operate an onsite private electrical substation, with two 132kV power lines directly connected to the National Grid.
  • Scalability: To enable and support growth and future-proof operations, ensure you have the ability to scale up, expand rack footprint and benefit from greater bandwidth capacity.
  • Security and compliance: Check the provider has multi-layer security provision, including fire detection and suppression systems, as well as on-site security. One example of best practice is the Telehouse London Docklands campus. This is guarded 24/7 by trained professionals, drawing on electronic access management, proximity access control systems and CCTV.
  • Sustainability: Confirm whether the colocation provider uses renewable energy, is compliant with regulation and has adopted the appropriate international ISO standards in Environment and Energy Management. Also choose a data centre infrastructure with real-time monitoring to drive energy efficiency in the data centre.
  • Support: Ensure you have unrestricted access to remote hands services with 24/7/365 availability and fast turnaround time for issue resolution. Also consider a provider with multi-channel support, such as live chat, email and phone.

About Telehouse data centres

Telehouse is a connectivity data centre provider focused on building connected ecosystems. Each data centre has been designed with connectivity and security in mind with the Telehouse London Docklands campus the most connected campus in Europe. Key benefits of Telehouse data centres include:

  • Carrier-neutrality: Customers can tap into an interconnected global network and access a wide ecosystem of Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers in network-dense, fibre-rich locations.
  • Connectivity: Telehouse is home to the London Internet Exchange (LINX) and a diverse ecosystem of connectivity partners. Telehouse Cloud Link provides secure access to multiple cloud provides while Telehouse Cross-connects enable connection to a rich ecosystem of connectivity partners.
  • Availability: Telehouse offers superior 2N+1 levels of redundancy and guarantees 99.999% uptime in its SLAs.
  • Security: Full CCTV surveillance, 360° monitored perimeter fencing and dedicated on-site security personnel 24/7.
  • Support: Customers can benefit from additional services including:
    • Internet and network services and Dark Fibre and Ethernet connections to off-site locations worldwide via the KDDI global network.
    • End-to-end IT and data centre infrastructure management, covering servers and cabling to design and implementation.
    • Data centre migration services including auditing, strategy, and planning to ensure safe and secure relocation.
    • 24/7 commitment, dedication and support from on-site remote hands engineers, covering everything from power cycling to device monitoring.

Connecting with Telehouse is more than just putting a server or cable in a data centre. We’re here to provide the right solutions and support your business. Take a look at the full list of our end-to-end data centre services.

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