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Enterprise Data Center Design and Methodology

Enterprise Data Center Design and Methodology


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Published by Rich Hintz
practical guide to designing a data center from inception through construction. The fundamental design principles take a simple, flexible, and modular approach based on accurate, real-world requirements and capacities. This approach contradicts the conventional (but totally inadequate) method of using square footage to determine basic capacities like power and cooling requirements.
practical guide to designing a data center from inception through construction. The fundamental design principles take a simple, flexible, and modular approach based on accurate, real-world requirements and capacities. This approach contradicts the conventional (but totally inadequate) method of using square footage to determine basic capacities like power and cooling requirements.

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Published by: Rich Hintz on Mar 12, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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In the data center design, a shipping, receiving, and staging area is an important
consideration, particularly if the equipment will involve many reconfigurations in
the lifetime of the center. Often, shipping and receiving take place in one area,
usually near a loading dock. Staging can happen in the same area, or it could be in a
separate location (recommended). Finally, storage facilities must be considered.

This chapter has the following sections:

s “Loading Dock”

s “Staging Area”

s “Storage”


Enterprise Data Center Design and Methodology

Loading Dock

The loading dock design and construction are part of the basic architecture of the
building, and an adequate loading dock should be part of your site selection criteria.
If your company has a separate Shipping and Receiving department, they will
probably have the last word in determining how the loading dock is set up.

FIGURE 10-1 Loading Docks With a Large Area in Which Trucks Can Easily Maneuver

It is not within the scope of this book to look at all the possible configurations, but
some important factors should be kept in mind during the planning stages:

s Safety. Safety should be the primary concern of loading dock design. Loading,

unloading, warehousing, and distribution are rated among the most hazardous of
industries. A single accident can cost thousands to millions of dollars in
insurance, downtime, and liability costs. Consider safety systems carefully. Good
lighting, good drainage, good ventilation, vehicle restraints, dock bumpers,
striping, indicator lights, wheel chocks, safety barriers, and hydraulic dock
levelers are just a few of these considerations.

s Flexibility. Advances occur in trucking and material handling which can

dramatically effect the design of the docking facilities. Future trends must be
taken into consideration. Loading docks must be equipped with features that
ensure workability and safety throughout its lifetime.

s Durability. Loading docks take a lot of abuse. The effort and expense of using

quality materials and durable designs will pay for itself in the long run.

Chapter 10

Shipping, Receiving, and Staging 135

s Bigger trucks. Trucks are getting longer and wider. Many trucks are now 102

inches wide and can be 80 feet long, or longer. If such large-capacity trucks will
be used, the docking area and the maneuvering area must be designed to
accommodate them.

s Truck access. Some truck trailer floors are as low as 36 inches to increase ceiling

height. To accommodate these trucks, the dock must have portable ramps, truck
levelers, dock levelers, or some other way to equalize the distance between dock
floor and trailer floor.

s Separation from data center. Access points from the loading/ shipping/ receiving

areas should not open directly into the data center due to the problems of
contamination and the loss of air pressure.

s Climate control. Dock seals and shelters help to maintain the internal climate,

protect merchandise, create security, save energy, and keep the area safe from
rain, snow, and wind that pose a threat to human safety.

s Use specialists. Every loading dock has its own special requirements. Consult

with qualified loading dock specialists during the design stages.

Shipping and Receiving

Shipping and receiving will usually occur at the loading dock. Computer equipment
can be large, heavy, and have special requirements such as the use of air-ride
equipped trucks, but many shipping and receiving groups don’t consider these
factors for their loading docks. Below is a brief checklist of things to consider.

These areas should have the following features:

s Protection from rain, snow, wind, etc.

s Accessible by large equipment, forklifts, pallet jacks, trucks, etc.

s Area for maneuverability of heavy equipment and vehicles. This must take the

turning radius of large vehicles into consideration. Also consider ventilation areas
for exhaust fumes.

s The path from receiving to the data center should be unobstructed, have wide

enough access, and have ramps available at different levels.

s Secure access points.

s Air-ride equipped trucks for transporting equipment.

For information on ramps and lifts, see the section “Ramps and Lifts” on page 72 of
Chapter 6, “Implementing a Raised Floor.”


Enterprise Data Center Design and Methodology

Staging Area

At least one dedicated staging area should be part of the data center design. Staging
is an area between the loading dock and the equipment’s final destination, and is
often used for equipment configuration. Equipment coming from receiving on its
way to the data center, as well as equipment moving from the data center out to
storage or shipping, will usually be processed in the staging area.

This area should be outside the data center, but should be maintained within similar
parameters. Contamination will be generated by packing, unpacking, and
component handling and this must be isolated from the operational equipment. The
staging area also involves a lot more human and machine traffic that can add to and
stir up contaminants.

s Videotaping of the packing and unpacking process is good for having a record of

how things fit into place.

s Equipment should go through a verification process (also known as “burn-in”).

Verification test suites (VTS) are sometimes available from the company
supplying the equipment. This process is usually separate from the burn-in done
later after racks are placed in the data center and the operating system and
software is loaded.

s The packing and unpacking of equipment can create a lot of contaminants, so this

should always be done in the staging area.

s Equipment should be stored, if even for a short time, in the staging area. The

same security measures that limit and monitor physical access should be used in
the staging area just as they would be used in the data center itself.

Packing and Unpacking Area

One of the things often overlooked in a staging area is the space required to pack
and unpack equipment. A Sun Fire 15000 server requires a minimum of 18 linear feet
to unpack the machine from its shipping material. Just to pack or unpack this
machine, you need a clear area 18 feet long by 10 feet wide (180 sq ft). It’s better to
have too much space than not enough, so consider allowing 20 feet by 10 feet (200 sq
ft) for this process.

This area must also be able to handle the weight requirements of all the equipment.
Consider the amount of packing and unpacking you might do in parallel. There is
usually more than one rack for a single configuration in the data center, and these
racks often arrive at the loading dock at the same time. Realistically, if you only have
one area of 200 sq ft, you can only unpack one of these racks at a time.

Chapter 10

Shipping, Receiving, and Staging 137


It is often necessary to retain packing materials in case something must be shipped
back to the vendor, for example, in the event of a component failure. Since this
material can create contaminants, it should be stored in an area with no running
computer equipment.

FIGURE 10-2 Outdoor Storage Sheds

Packing materials can also take up a lot of space, so using expensive raised floor
space, or even office space, is probably not a cost-effective solution. You might also
need to find economic storage for large quantities of inexpensive equipment, like
network cable. On the other hand, expensive equipment and critical spare parts
should be stored in the data center or staging area, because restricting access to this
type of equipment is prudent.

Consider the following:

s Will the storage area be close to the data center? If not, how far away?

s Will storage be outsourced?

s Document how equipment was packed for ease in repacking. Label everything!

s How much space will be needed for storage materials?


Enterprise Data Center Design and Methodology



Avoiding Hazards

“The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in, a meltdown expected, the wheat is growing
thin, a nuclear error, but I have no fear.”

- The Clash

Potential hazards in a data center can range from mildly inconvenient to
devastating. Some are difficult to avoid, but knowing what the potential hazards are
in the data center area is the first step in preparing to avoid or combat them.

This chapter contains the following sections:

s “Types of Hazards”

s “Personnel Health and Safety”

s “Fire”

s “Flooding”

s “Earthquakes”

s “Miscellaneous Disasters”

s “Security Problems”

s “Noise Problems”


Enterprise Data Center Design and Methodology

Types of Hazards

Hazards for the data center can run the gamut from natural disasters to human-
created accidents. Weather and seismic activity constitute some of the potential
problems, and knowing the local histories of these phenomena is essential to
protecting the data center, and people, against them.

Some natural hazards are:

s Fire from electrical storms

s Flooding from rain, overflows, runoff

s Earthquakes

s High winds

s Hurricanes

s Tornados

Some human-created hazards are:

s Fire from electrical short circuits

s Flooding from equipment failure, leaking plumbing, sprinkler systems

s Vibration caused by construction, large equipment, nearby industry

s Noise from data center computers, large machinery, nearby industry

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