When considering the expenses of building and the ongoing management of a data center, you can usually bank on about sixty to eighty percent of your investment going to:

Many data center executives neglect critical construction costs during the design and planning phases before breaking ground for construction.

When preparing your data center business plan, you should consider six significant capital costs.

1. Structural Elements

Just like the human body needs to have air, blood circulation, and a nervous system, it wouldn’t function without a skeletal structure. The overall weight of servers, racks, cooling ducts, and cabling in a data center needs strong “bones” to support the load with minimal impact on available space.

The raised flooring, walls, and high ceilings of well-designed facilities must be built to withstand earthquakes and extreme weather, such as hurricanes or tornados.

Using columns, beams, and other framing materials that don’t just meet but exceed standards will protect your investment and possibly reduce insurance costs or provide you with opportunities to win the trust of prospective clients.

2. Office Space for Clients Working Onsite

Your clients will often need to set up a temporary workspace while getting their gear installed and tested. Providing conference rooms or desk space for development and testing and other amenities for clients when they come onsite is often forgotten, but an important value add.

These facilities can also serve your needs when hosting data center tours, interviewing personnel, and planning meetings for onboarding new customers.

3. Modular, Adaptable Racking

Server hardware refreshes, upgrades, and expansions can occur frequently in a successful data center. Installing server racks and surrounding walls that can adapt to changing client needs can be another value-added service to differentiate your data center from your competition.

Scalability to provide higher service tiers, ranging from colocation to managed and fully managed Network Operating Center (NOC) monitored services, requires a facility that can be configured in multiple ways. Racks which can be expanded and clustered to adapt to changing capacity requirements are important.

4. A Strong Foundation

Like structural elements, the concrete foundation supporting a data center is vital. For purposes of load bearing, lessening the impact of earthquakes, and providing opportunities for raised floors for cabling are elements of construction that should be considered early in the design process.

5. Fire Detection and Suppression Equipment

With all the electrical systems that power a data center and the backup systems, should primary systems fail, wet and dry fire suppression equipment needs to be widely available. To prevent extensive damage, smoke and fire detection systems must alert onsite staff and local first responders.

6. Site Logistics Costs

Where a data center is located relative to local airports, shipping routes, telecommunications infrastructure, and power lines are all considerations outside of a data center proper. Should you need to arrange for significant new cabling and the excavation costs to go with it, you could need to adjust your construction budget significantly.

Data center construction costs involve much more than cabling, cooling, and power. Though these three elements amount to a significant portion of your investment, key expenses also hinge on the following factors:

  • Where the facility is located
  • The structure and foundation which bear the burden of the technology
  • Mechanical elements that support servers
  • Office space to provide convenience and hospitality to clients
  • Safety equipment, in case of an emergency

Have we missed data center construction costs that you feel are critical to a successful data center build? Tell us about them in the Comments section below.

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