As was the case with the floor, the ceiling (roof) required some form of additional support mechanism, and a W21 x 50 steel grid system was designed. This also included a 3-¼ Unistrut system supported by the steel grid, from which were hung the various mechanical/electrical systems.
With this added grid system, the clearance space became critical, and required “creative” distribution design and coordination between mechanical, electrical, and communication systems designers. This included having to navigate around power panels, CRAC ducting, and pre-action fire protection piping.
Although workable, compromises in bussway distribution and clearance to cable tray in various locations were required. These compromises included less than 12 clearance above the cable tray for short perpendicular runs below ducts. Although the Telecommunication Industry Association guidelines require a minimum of 12 clearance above and along one side of the cable tray, short runs of three to four feet can be acceptable. This, unfortunately, limited the flexibility and growth potential of the space.
The lessons learned here are straightforward, and if not completely avoided, can be mitigated by following some basic steps. When dealing with an existing facility and considering a new data center space, ask yourself these questions:
What is the construction age and type of the building? Is it able to support the physical requirements for the data center?
What are the floor-to-floor heights?
Can the space support a raised floor?
What is the location of the data center? If it is multilevel, consider the ground level, or lower level for the data center space; however, water penetration needs to be considered. If located on an upper floor, what is the access to equipment elevators, not passenger elevators?
How will the data center support spaces factor in your space calculations?
Have you allowed for growth and considered logical space expansion requirements?
These are just some of the many issues that must be considered when evaluating an existing space to house a new data center, but they are basic and crucial to the feasibility of the retrofit. They should be addressed early as part of the initial program study so as to avoid the pitfalls of potentially expensive retrofits and redesign requirements. Early development of space programs and strategic plans associated with growth, migration, and gap analysis for future technologies have a critical impact on the location and configuration of the data center infrastructure support systems and can have substantial impact on project construction costs on day one, and future operation cost over the life of the facility.
It is quite possible that upon completion of the appropriate due diligence, you will find that an alternate location, or even off-site options, are in your organization's best interest for expansion of your data center requirements. HBI