Data center evaluations and assessments are sought-after as 2022 data center budgeting and planning are underway. Information technology and facility leaders are taking a hard look at their data center infrastructure, formally launching their 5–7-year strategy process or maybe just deciding on what to do next. If CARES Act funding is a possibility for your initiatives, a data center evaluation is most often necessary to provide a formal validation associated with a budget or spending request.
This article provides the three most important facts about data center evaluations and assessments and why organizations should not skimp on the process that directly impacts long-term costs and prepares leaders to deliver resilient, scalable, and world-class IT services.
A data center evaluation has many different descriptions, including:
• Data center assessment
• Data center feasibility study
• Data center infrastructure review
• Data center location or facility assessment
• Data center master plan
What matters most for your data center plan is making sure your data center evaluation is a comprehensive technology-first process, aligns to organizational goals, and considers cloud, on-premise, and edge computing requirements, and delivers clarity on budget requirements associated with data center investments.
Let's review the top three facts about data center evaluations and assessments that leaders often overlook as they prepare for data center upgrades, modernization, location changes, and more. In attempts to save time, money, and resources, we have witnessed many teams rushing through the evaluation process facing cost, computing, and performance issues soon thereafter.
As you begin your data center planning and budgeting process, consider these three facts about data center evaluations.
1. An internal or free data center evaluation forgoes best practices, innovations, and value comparisons.
2. An unbiased data center evaluation is the best evaluation.
3. A comprehensive data center evaluation provides clarity and direction, identifying what is possible in an existing or new data center and a sound understanding of the budget required to execute the recommended strategy
An internal or free data center evaluation forgoes best practices, innovations, and value comparisons.
An external firm has deep data center industry experience and choosing one with knowledge of your industry challenges and requirements is even better. As you know, an external firm has evaluated millions of square feet of data center space, solving similar challenges and right-sizing facilities, locations, and equipment of all kinds. Consultants and subject matter experts have mandatory skills requirements, keep up with the latest technologies, and have a vast industry network to benchmark against, helping you understand how your peers are solving comparable data center and technology challenges. An external firm knows the current adoption of new strategies and solutions, the pros and cons, and can weigh the risks and rewards of every part of the data center plan.
For example, higher education teams put a significant value on the unique knowledge of high-performance research computing (HPCC) environments when it comes to data center evaluations. See data center project examples here specifically University Creates a Four-Tiered, High-Performance Computing Strategy
Often solution providers offer free assessments, and "free" equals "limited in scope" for data center evaluations. You may solve a short-term low-visibility problem, but are they looking at your technology first, user and computing demands, and what your organization will look like in 5-7 years? Do they have the cross-functional expertise (information technology, engineering, facilities, networks, etc.) to provide the professional data center evaluation you need? What value do they put on the assessment as a line item to offer it for free?
Location and design-build expertise are equally important as data center technologies and infrastructure. If you consider the modernization of a current data center or a move to a new location, construction and renovation expertise is vital for optimal recommendations. For a recent engagement we were involved in, our deliverable compared three locations for whitespace availability, redundancy, growth, sustainability, potential disruption to operations, ability to support prefabricated, containerized solutions, security, and associated costs.
An unbiased data center evaluation is the best evaluation.
A comprehensive, unbiased evaluation will outline technology, speed, and location requirements for vendors to react to instead of sorting through conflicting vendor-based recommendations. If a vendor knows power and storage, they may not know the latest data center cooling strategies and techniques. It's okay to ask your preferred data center equipment provider to bring in a professional services firm to perform an unbiased assessment. If they are your trusted advisor, they will have your best interests in mind.
If a colocation provider assesses needs, latency requirements and associated risks for users, as an example, could be underestimated, especially for healthcare, retail, and financial services. Take Dartmouth-Hitchcock, computing response time directly impacts care-delivery success.
Whomever you chose for your data center evaluation, make sure colocation upfront and continuing costs of the data center options are part of all phases of design, build-out, annual maintenance, and renewals. For example, in this guide the costs of the cross-connects, remote hands, connectivity and build-out costs are sometimes not factored in.
A comprehensive data center evaluation leads to exceptional, cost-effective data center design.
Information technology and facilities teams that take the time, money, and resources for a data center evaluation receive:
• An assessment of the existing critical infrastructure in the data center – power, cooling, telecommunications, fire protection, and architectural/structural.
• An evaluation of whether the current environment can support the organization's technology strategy and roadmap.
• A plan to optimize energy efficiency for long-term cost savings and sustainability.
• Concept drawings to visually represent how the data center upgrades are low risk to system uptime.
• And a budget to gain approval with recommendations and analysis.
An unbiased, third-party data center evaluation performed by a collaborative partner allows for better decision making, provides facts, not opinions, and arms leaders with a move-forward plan to manage the team assigned to the next phase of the data center project.