NO. 01  VOLUME 02 - JUNE 8, 2001

 Budgeting For a Data Center Construction and Relocation Project

Its no mystery that budgeting for a data center is not the same for budgeting for general office space.  However, we can't tell you how many times we have come onto a data center project only to learn that the project is under-budgeted.  Often times, its serious.  We've seen situations where the facilities group has to go back to the board and ask for a $1 million or more to complete a data center project.  On a recent large project (where we were not permitted to see the budget), it was $1.5 million.  Or worse, we've also seen a seriously under-budgeted project where the facilities manager chose to downsize the design features to make up for the deficient budget creating long-term problems for the IT operations group.  This manager lost her job.  

There are four main budgeting components for a large data center project.  First, there is the budget for construction.  This is usually controlled by the facilities group.  Second, there is the budget for the migration of all IT/IS equipment to the new data center.  Often, this includes all expenses for new, upgraded and/or seed equipment.  This budget is usually controlled by the IT/IS group.  Third, is the budget for communications cabling for the entire project.  This is the domain of the telecom group which may be a subset of the IT/IS group.  Lastly, there is the budget for relocating all staff, staff equipment and staff contents.  Again, this is usually budgeted by the facilities group.  

Budgeting for a data center and relocation project calls for close cooperation between the facilities group and the IT/IS group.  Decisions also have to be made as to what the facilities group will pay for and what the IT/IS group will pay for.  A few hints.  Communications cabling is normally part of the construction project.  The expense for routers and switches are not.  It is legend for IT/IS managers to try and sneak their acquisition of new equipment and upgrades into the construction budget claiming that this expense will be caused by the move.  Sometimes, it works but usually it doesn't.  Careful decisions must be made as to what goes into the construction budget and what will not.  Best advice - Finalize the architectural program requirements for the project before finalizing the project budget.  Make sure that both the facilities group and the IT/IS group agrees.  Second, no assumptions or verbal agreements here, write everything down.  

Next best advice.  Visit our web page entitled Budget Busters on Construction and/or Relocation Projects.  In this article, we have outlined 16 areas that you must not overlook when preparing a budget for a data center project.  Located at www.abrconsulting.com/budgetbuster.htm

The Importance of Early Construction Coordination Meetings for IT

On a raised floor project, it is very common for the general contractor to organize meetings with the electrical and mechanical contractors to coordinate the placement and pathways of their facilities under the floor.  They do this to minimize the areas where these systems have to cross each other or need to be in the same general area.  

Unfortunately, this is a very low area of participation by IT groups.  They just figure that their communications cable will go in there somewhere.  Just lay the cables on the floor and we're OK.  This is changing as more and more IT groups use cable tray under the raised floor for their cables.  IT must coordinate their tray pathways with the other contractors to avoid conflict.  Another reason for the coordination has to do with preventing the communications cables from paralleling the electrical conduits in the same path.  This is not acceptable and must be avoided.  Where communications cables must lay alongside electrical conduits, there must be a separation of no less than 6 inches.  However, we strongly caution that every attempt be made to minimize these parallel runs.  Where communications cable pathways must cross electrical pathways, we recommend building bridges made from cable runway or other similar materials to maintain the 6 inch separation.  This increases the cost of the cabling project slightly but we feel that it is the best way to protect your underfloor data signals.  Our advice, attend those early contractor coordination meetings.  

Cable Tie Wraps Versus Velcro

More and more, we are specifying Velcro to wrap around cables as opposed to plastic tie wraps.  The primary reason is that the Velcro doesn't wrap as tightly and it does not make indentations into the cable jacket.  Its also easier to add or remove cables from the cable bundle.  For under raised floor applications, you may need plenum-rated Velcro (if you can find it).  If all plenum-rated materials are required, you may need to go with the plastic tie-wraps as you can get them plenum-rated.  Don't pull too tight.  

Caution in Making Pretty Cable Bundles

We're seeing a slight increase in cabling specifications to make the bundles of cables look attractive as they transition through visible spaces in cable trays or other ceiling supports.  The specifications usually state that the cable bundles be assembled with not twists or divers.  This means that the cables on the outside of the bundle run parallel to their adjoining cables for long distances.  This type of cable bundling leads to the possibilities of cross-talk between cables and is opposed by Avaya, Inc. and other manufacturers.  Further compounding the problem is having these pretty cable bundles wrapped with either plastic or Velcro tie-wraps at equal distances throughout the cable run.  This makes the cable bundle even more pretty.  

We worked on a project that demanded such bundling.  It was a very large co-location data center and the bundles were huge and numerous.  The Velcro tie-wraps were to be placed evenly at 6 inches apart.  Avaya, Inc. did an onsite inspection during the project and threatened to not warranty the installation after viewing the bundles.  Avaya, Inc. additionally produced a company letter recommending against that type of cable bundling.  They did warranty the cabling system but they didn't like the bundles.  

Our advice:  Go ahead and make the pretty bundles as the cable bundles drop into the MDF or IDFs.  These distances are relatively short and are not of any concern.  However, on all other runs, let the cables lay in the cable tray, cable runway, j-hooks, cable caddies or other ceiling supports as they are pulled.  You can dress them slightly but that's it.  Velcro tie-wraps and even plastic tie-wraps are acceptable as long as the wraps are placed at uneven distances and, they are not too tight.  



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Contact us at www.abrconsulting.com  Phone:  925.872.5523  Fax:  916.478.2814