Building Data Centers in the Age of Technology

There’s no denying it; the future of business demands more technology and higher computing power. And oftentimes, the best way to make this happen is by constructing new data centers with state-of-the-art computers, telecommunications systems, servers, and backup systems.

But there are some common pitfalls that tech companies fall into during this process, including investing in huge, energy inefficient buildings to set up shop and not anticipating the evolving needs of the industry. Also, IT buildings require a special skill set to avoid these pitfalls, and general contractors may not have the expertise needed to maximize efficiency and cut costs.

The Google Data Center, The Dalles, Oregon

Key Features of Data Centers

Unlike other types of buildings, construction and design teams must provide IT businesses with products and solutions that are tailored to high-tech settings. Overly large spaces result in higher costs for maintenance and operations, yet buildings must be accommodating for growth and change. Key features can include the following:

  • Facility-wide generators
  • Server rooms
  • Wiring and network closets
  • Network operation centers
  • General office area
  • Command bridges
  • Outside air economizer
  • Rear door heat exchangers

Anticipating Future Needs

Although it’s always important to anticipate future needs when designing and constructing a new building, it’s especially crucial in the ever-changing tech industry. Extensive conversations about the goals of the IT business and projected technological advancements must take place before ground is broken. As technology evolves, the amount of space needed for data centers is shrinking; however, power density and cooling systems are more important than ever before.

At the close of 2015, Data Center Knowledge predicted the following data center trends for the year ahead:

  • Colocation firms will invest in more renewable energy
  • More traditional enterprises will use public cloud services
  • Europe will see greater growth in data center construction
  • S. data center construction will be centered on Boston, Minneapolis, Denver, Philadelphia, and Kansas City


Energy and Environmental Concerns

Based on the results of a recent survey, the top thing that professionals would like to change about their data centers is energy efficiency (19 percent). This is closely followed by having a better cooling/HVAC system (15 percent).

Data centers often need to be in operation 24 hours a day, which takes a toll on heating and cooling systems and other sustainable energy technologies. In Frankfurt, Germany, the Citi Data Center became the first data center to achieve LEED Platinum certification by reducing infrastructural energy use by 72 percent and reducing water consumption by 30 percent.

The Colocation Factor

Another big trend in the data center industry is colocation, as lots of companies are renting out data center space to accommodate outsourcing and flexible working arrangements. Some tech companies prefer to own and operate their own buildings for security reasons, but it is often more economical and productive to share space with colleagues in similar or complementary industries.

New Data Centers in the News


Photo credit: Tony Webster and Sean Ellis via Flickr

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