October 30, 2012 — Indian organizations are increasingly looking to hire staff with cloud expertise, and are allocating more of their budgets to train internal IT staff on cloud initiatives, a new report by VMware finds.

Keep on reading: VMware Study Finds 62 Percent of Indian Organizations Increasing Cloud Training Budgets

 

October 30, 2012 — UK data center operator Virtus Data Centres announced on Tuesday it has opened the second phase of its London LON1 data center to meet demand driven by customers in the enterprise, system integration, cloud and network sectors.

Keep on reading: Virtus Meets Customer Growth with London Data Center Expansion

 

October 29, 2012 — Web hosting provider Advanced Internet Technologies announced on Monday it has secured its US East Coast data centers in preparation for the combined impact of Hurricane Sandy colliding with an early winter storm.

Keep on reading: AIT Prepares Data Centers for Hurricane Sandy, Offering Free Hosting to Affected Businesses

 

In the week ending October 26, 2012, Fiberhub is offering a free iPad Mini with purchase a full cabinet for one year, DemoWolf is offering an additional 50 percent off its tutorials, Dimension Data is offering $300 off its cloud services for new customers, and HostOnARope is offering 50 percent off its white-label reseller hosting plans.

Keep on reading: Web Hosting Sales and Promos Roundup – October 26, 2012

 

October 26, 2012 — Web host Lunarpages announced on Friday that it has partnered with Conversion Pipeline to provide its customers with search engine optimization and pay-per-click services. With Conversion Pipeline, Lunarpages customers will be able to promote their brand and advertise their website.

Keep on reading: Web Host Lunarpages Partners to Provide SEO Services to Customers

 

October 26, 2012 — Canadian web hosting provider SKGOLD Hosting announced on Friday it has launched an affiliate program, which gives customers an opportunity to sell web hosting services in exchange for a recurring, per-sale commission of up to 20 percent.

Keep on reading: Web Host SKGOLD Hosting Launches Affiliate Program

 

October 26, 2012 — Colocation provider Peerless Network announced on Wednesday it has opened a new 12,600 square-foot data center in downtown Chicago.

Keep on reading: Colocation Provider Peerless Network Opens Data Center in Downtown Chicago

 

The overwhelming expansion of information technology and the expectation of 24/7 uptime can severely overburden the facilities that house digital data and online services. Facing the prospect of inadequate space, cooling and power, between one-third and one-half of all data center operators said they expect to expand by the end of 2013, according to several industry surveys conducted last year.

Commonly, when the limits of existing space become evident, the problem already is imminent: data center owners and operators need more space, and they need it in a hurry.

Although greenfield development remains an option for some companies, not all have the financial means or the time necessary to locate and purchase property, design a new facility and build from the ground up. In addition to cost and speed, the availability, location and accessibility of potential greenfield sites may limit the appeal of new construction. A data center that must be located in an urban area, for instance, rarely has greenfield space to choose from, and tearing down an existing structure and rebuilding requires more time than many companies have to get their data centers operational.

Consequently, retrofitting an existing building, either to expand a present data center, create a second site or scale down a data center operation, may become the preferred approach. More often than not, retrofits offer the advantage of an existing building in an ideal location with power and fiber connectivity already available—all of which can accelerate the time to market. Planning and zoning reviews and approvals usually are streamlined with a retrofit as well, and compared with new construction, which may require 12 to 18 months to design and construct, a retrofit generally can be completed faster because the building shell is in place.

A retrofit presents some inherent tradeoffs, however. Every existing building has benefits and limitations. The challenge is to recognize, work within and, where possible, mitigate those limitations.

Analyzing for Suitability

No matter how large or small the data center, company management first needs to identify and differentiate between the “must-haves” and the full wish list for the space. With this information as the underpinning, an experienced, multi-disciplinary critical facilities architect and engineering (A/E) partner can conduct a thorough, up-front analysis, helping the data center owner to effectively weigh the suitability of any building being considered for retrofit, including identifying opportunities to achieve cost savings and reduce risks.

A master planning effort identifying both immediate and longer-term space and infrastructure needs often is the first step, followed by a site assessment, which is critical to understanding the scope and potential of the proposed retrofit. These initial actions save the data center owner from making missteps that otherwise could prove costly and time consuming later on. The evaluation should include, in part, a review of the following:

  • Location. Considering accessibility, security and other factors, in what part of the city does the facility need to be located? Is the area around the building under consideration free from crime and other manmade threats? Is the site located in an area subject to natural disasters, such as seismic events, recurring wind storms/hurricanes or tornadoes? Is the site or its access roads located in a flood zone that would make it difficult to get fuel to a generator in the event of flooding? A retrofit in such an area also may take longer to complete than a similar project in another part of town, depending on how code requirements are managed by the area’s planning-department officials.Perhaps the most often-discussed considerations in selecting a site are cost and reliability of utilities. Because large data centers can use vast amounts of electricity and water, supplies need to be cost effective, reliable and abundant.Certain geographic areas—such as coastal regions that are exposed to high humidity and saltwater corrosion, for example—also may subject a data center to region-specific environmental effects that affect the materials and equipment that are suitable for the retrofit.Geographic diversity must be considered if the project is intended as backup or redundant for another facility. Both Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA regulations impose requirements that affect placement of a redundant facility, and the potential for regional natural disasters or terrorist attacks may mean that a second data center should be located far enough from the first that a single disaster couldn’t affect both sites. Another, often-overlooked risk is the threat of a large solar storm, which can cause widespread disruption to power and communications. Broad separations of redundant or backup facilities can ameliorate this risk.
  •  Zoning ordinances and building codes. Scrupulous research on codes and zoning is critical to determining whether the company can achieve its needs in the designated location. For instance, if the data center will require that generators, cooling towers or chillers be placed outside, the company must check to make certain no easement restrictions will prevent this. Noise, accessibility and fire codes, including those at the city, county and state levels, and business park covenants can affect the company’s ability to meet its data center goals. Rezoning can take six months or longer—more time than many companies want to wait before starting a retrofit project.
  • Structural considerations.The building envelope and floorplate are fixed, and the data center owner will inherit both the efficiencies and inefficiencies of the selected site. Is commercial-grade construction acceptable, or does the building need to be hardened to protect against natural disaster threats? Does the building under consideration offer sufficient fire protection? Is ample exterior space available for large mechanical and electrical systems, such as generators and heat rejection equipment?Will the roof and floor support the weight of equipment to be installed? Without modifications, typical commercial construction is not capable of supporting the high-density loads required for equipment such as UPS systems. If adequate existing drawings are available, the A/E consultant can easily determine existing floor loading capacities. If acceptable drawings are unavailable, however, the evaluation process may require a detailed analysis to determine structural capacities and costs that may be needed to achieve the upgrades.Equipment loads may exceed the capacities of typical slab-on-grade construction, as well. An existing geotechnical report, along with detailed as-built drawings of the concrete slab construction, can greatly expedite the analysis of the existing construction capacities. If this information is unavailable, a geotechnical engineer will need to determine soil bearing capacities and slab construction.The available clear height between floor plates also must be closely examined. Is there adequate clear height to accommodate the required raised floor height, data/power cabling distribution and HVAC distribution systems? Lack of adequate clear height is a major limiting factor for future flexibility and growth.
  • Hazardous materials. Before proceeding with a retrofit, a building being considered must be evaluated for asbestos, lead, mold and other contaminants. If the building under consideration is suspected of containing hazardous materials, a Phase I Environmental Assessment will reveal the extent of any contamination.
  • Outside air quality. If options to introduce outside air to provide economization or free cooling are being considered, outside air quality should be evaluated. If the proposed location is adjacent to a busy highway or dust-producing land use, additional measures may be required to prevent damage to IT equipment and to avoid false alarms from sensitive early-warning fire-detection systems.
  • Security. Among other vital security issues, there are potential risks to establishing a data center in a multi-tenant building. The data center that operates in a divided space, for example, may have to share utilities, agree to reduced security access and give up control over the selection of other businesses that lease offices in the building. All of these factors add risks that may be outside of the owner’s control. The data center may be vulnerable to other tenants’ actions and infrastructure, such as plumbing running above sensitive equipment. If the facility is leased, it should be noted that the initial build and future modifications will be subject to landlord review and approval. This can limit options and delay the design and construction schedule. These concerns are not insurmountable, but they should be identified, gauged and addressed early in the process so they don’t create unpleasant (and expensive) surprises after the data center already is functioning.
  • Lease restrictions. In a leased facility, the data center owner needs to understand any restrictions on operations, modifications that can be made, use of hazardous materials and restoration requirements at the conclusion of the lease.
  • Incentives. Sometimes, local tax incentives are available if a completed retrofit will create jobs or meet other objectives. An A/E partner can provide guidance in determining whether incentives are a possibility for the project, or if it might be possible to negotiate other cost concessions with the city in which the data center will be located.
  • Future use. In considering various site options, company leaders need a clear sense of what the data center’s future needs could be. Can the building chosen for the retrofit be static, or does it need to allow for future expansion that may include access to more power, generators and utilities? Does the building’s footprint provide the long-term flexibility the company needs?

Prioritization

Obviously, no site will be perfect. These criteria and others should be ranked in importance for the particular project and scored as a basis for comparing alternative sites. Efficiently evaluating potential project sites is a process of elimination and prioritization.

A critical facilities A/E consultant’s assessment of a potential site will focus first on would-be “deal breakers” that are expensive or impossible to fix—including location, availability of fiber and power, codes, covenants and natural hazards—so that the data center owner minimizes due-diligence efforts and is able to quickly determine whether it’s worthwhile to further explore the property.

Later steps in the evaluation can pinpoint risk factors and determine how to mitigate them, minimize cost and optimize the function and value of the prospective retrofit site.

About the Author

Alan Lehman is an electrical engineer with GBA Architects Engineers Critical Facilities Group. Lehman can be reached at 913.492.0400 or alehman@gbateam.com. GBA Companies employs a staff of 180 in Lenexa, Kansas; has offices in Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado and Illinois; and works with clients through the country.

Photo courtesy of Dave Shaver

 

This webinar will show how web hosters can use site building tools to differentiate their services and increase average revenue per user (ARPU). Parallels Web Presence Builder is a comprehensive site building tool that allows business owners to quickly build their own website using professional pre-written content and a simple drag and drop interface that [...]

Keep on reading: Best practices for hosting business-class web sites

 

October 25, 2012 — Cloud communication software provider 4PSA announced on Thursday that its Cloud OnDemand service is now available in the APAC region. The 4PSA service – which includes VoipNow Cloud OnDemand and DNS Manager Cloud OnDemand – will be hosted in SoftLayer’s Singapore data center, which was opened last year.

Keep on reading: Cloud Communications Provider 4PSA Launches Cloud OnDemand Service in APAC

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