Data center commissioning consists of electrical and mechanical checks to ensure a data center will fulfill its destined role.

Like product and service testing, the commissioning process for a data center is essential for guaranteeing reliability, performance, and user satisfaction in the final deliverable.

Good commissioning relies on adequate time and money allocations and conditions that truly reflect how the deliverable should work every day, once in production. Skimping in either area already opens the door to commissioning mistakes.

Mistake 1. Not Resisting Budget Cuts

There is often pressure to deliver faster and at lower costs.

When commissioning follows design and construction, as is often the case in traditional approaches, it is at most risk of being squeezed or curtailed

However, short-term gains often mean longer-term problems and outages. There is seldom any justification for arbitrarily reducing the commissioning time and resources allocated in the original project planning.

Mistake 2. Considering Commissioning to Be a ‘Bolt-On’

‘Bolt-on’ too easily leads to ‘bolt-off’. And the failure to integrate commissioning into the overall process from early on can lead to divergence at the end between what is actually checked, and what should be checked.

Mistake 3. Technology and Commissioning Mismatches

Different items require different commissioning procedures.

The data center commissioning script that tells teams what to do must also match the equipment used in the data center.

This is also a reason to bring commissioning in early in the delivery cycle, to detect and correct any inconsistencies in a timely way.

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Mistake 4. Unrealistic Commissioning Conditions

A data center must operate as a whole, under typical user loads, and in a normal everyday environment.

Commissioning procedures that try to test parts in isolation or fail to create realistic conditions risk performance degradation or failure in normal service conditions.

Proper testing includes the simulation of all projected server power and cooling loads or all the servers at work.

Mistake 5. Excessive Pressure on the Commissioning Team

While high productivity is a praiseworthy goal, pushing the commissioning process too hard means the danger of workers taking shortcuts or making errors.

Either way, overall quality can suffer.

Remember that some commissioning activities may be incompressible: in other words, putting twice the number of people on a task will not necessarily cut in half the time needed to do it (sometimes, it’s even the reverse).

Mistake 6. Keeping Commissioning Exclusively Within the DC Construction Team

Good commissioning needs an impartial eye.

While it’s great for the construction and engineering team to be aware of the need for commissioning and to make proper preparations, it is a tough challenge to spot or admit to faults in one’s own work.

An external commissioning agent can ensure everything is properly checked, including when internal team members carry out the agent’s instructions.


Commissioning also needs to prepare for data center life after delivery.

Teams may change, and documentation needs to be available to help new workers become familiar with the scope of the checks made.

However, avoiding the six mistakes above will already considerably improve your chances of a quality pre-delivery phase and successful data center start-up.

Other Related Resources

Have you ever made a mistake in data center commissioning from which you were able to recover? Tell us about your experience with a few lines underneath the space for Comments.

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