A PERIODIC PUBLICATION BY THE ABR CONSULTING
CONTACT US AT WWW.ABRCONSULTING.COM
NO. 03 VOLUME 01 - October 31, 2003
to be offline for so long. Since our last issue, we planned and relocated
17,000 systems for a major telecom firm and worked on two World Trade Center
projects. We need to take a breather and catch up a bit on our newsletter.
WORLD TRADE CENTER STORY
We were retained to advise an insurance
company on the reality of what one firm did as a result of the WTC
incident. This very large company was not in the towers but was in nearby
buildings. Many of their windows were blown out and their computer rooms
contaminated. The Feds shut them down immediately. One part of the
story is how we were retained. We were asked what we would do if we were
the CIO of this large organization. We advised the representative that we
would go out and buy the latest and greatest of everything and send you the bill. There
was a pause on the phone and the response was "that's exactly what they
did". The interesting part of the story is that the new equipment
replaced 11 platform levels of Windows and DOS. Yes DOS. They still
had systems running DOS 3.1 and early LANs that were 3270 coax connected.
Now they have the latest Windows NT. Amazing. Our job was to assist in determining what was fair and
reasonable on the insurance claim.
stories. When we were interviewed for the project, we were asked what we
would do if we immediately had to replace everything in our large data
center. We replied that we would go out and buy the latest and greatest of
everything and send you the bill. After a short pause, the caller said
"that's exactly what they did". We were hired. Second
(sometime during the project), the policy holder had a large legacy 3270
environment that they replaced with an all IP-based network. First
question to us was "Is 3270 still available and if yes, why can't we just
replace the 3270. Our answer: "If we were the CEO of a major
corporation and our CIO said that they were going to replace their 3270 network
with a new 3270 network to please the insurance company, two things would
happen. First, I would fire the CIO for being stupid. Second, he
would be the laughing stock of the computer industry. We recommended that
the IP-based network was a fair and reasonable replacement.
HAVE YOU SEEN
OUR NEW POWER & BTU CALCULATOR ON OUR WEBSITE?
We have a new
utility on our website that will calculate your power and cooling requirements
after you answer two questions: (1) how many watts per square foot in your
electrical design, and (2) how large is the computer room (in square
feet). Press the button and you have information to immediately provide to
your architects and engineers.
Question: How do
I determine watts per square foot. Answer: Before you get to the two
questions, there is a short 1-1/2 page tutorial on watts per square foot with
several examples of legacy data center and server rack configurations along the
watts per square foot for these configurations. From the tutorial, you
should be able to select the best watts per square foot number for your
needs. The formulas are based on known calculations. To use this
utility, go to www.abrconsulting.com
and scan down the left side to the first link under the FACILITIES
DESIGNING THE ELECTRICAL LOAD
Early in the design process, the electrical
engineers will ask you to identify the power ratings for every piece of
equipment that you intend to place in your new computer room. If you
cannot do this, the engineers will simply assign a watts per square foot to the
design and move on without you (see Don't Be Left in the Dust on our
website). This also ties into the above paragraph. What IT folks
normally do is document all of the systems in the computer room and for power
ratings, take the information off of the equipment nameplate (for example, a
server nameplate that says 4.5 amps @ 120-208 VAC). All of these power
figures are then totaled, projections for growth in the new room are added in
and the information is conveyed to the electrical engineers. The problem
here is that "nameplate" information is about 25%-30% higher than the
design load needs to be because the manufacturers build such a large safety
factor into their design. Conversely, you have the running load which is
the measurement taken while the computer room is in full operations.
Typically, the running load is 20%-25% of the design load (and sometimes
going on. The electrical engineer is looking for a design load for all
equipment going into the new computer room. This includes what could be
3-5 years growth to completely fill the room. This design load then
dictates the sizing of the UPS systems, the HVAC systems and the emergency
generator. Thus, supplying "nameplate" data with the 25%-30%
safety factor is going to cause a large over design of your electrical and
mechanical systems. So, do you provide your engineers with the design load
or running load? Depends. The safest spot is the design load less
25%. However, if you have a UPS and a generator, you can lean more toward
the running load since, the load is never expected to drop and re-start.
You can spend less on a UPS and generator. However, if you only have a
UPS, stay safe. Your major decision at this point is how much run time you
have on the battery should you have a loss of power. You want to err on
the high side when your only backup is a UPS.
THE CABLING ROOMS (IDFs) FOR VOICE-OVER-IP TELEPHONE
You can no
longer avoid the increasing switch to digital telephone systems
(Voice-Over-IP). We see more and more being considered and
installed. It's a trend that will never reverse back to analog. We
have been designing cabling systems for the eventuality of VoIP for about 3
years. Here's a summary of our basic design changes:
All voice and data station cables are terminated onto the data racks
(rack-mounted RJ-45 patch panels). Voice station cables are no longer
terminated on the backboard. With the data switch and now VoIP switch
being rack-mounted, this permits any of the station cables to be used for voice
2) The cabling rooms themselves
are more rectangular to accommodate more racks. More racks are necessary
to land all of the station cables (remember the voice cables used to land on the
3) Where VoIP systems will
be installed, we now minimize the riser backbone copper pairs. Digital
telephone runs on the riser fiber pairs. Where VoIP is in the future, we
run the normal compliment of riser backbone copper pairs and terminate them on
4) We then run 25-pair
copper cables from the data racks to termination hardware adjacent to the riser
backbone copper termination hardware. This only has to be Cat 3 rated
since it's just for voice. On the data racks, you terminate these 25-pair
cables on Cat 3 or Cat 5 patch panels. Thus, when we cross-connect, all
data cable patch to the data switch. All voice cables are patched to the
backbone patch panels on the data racks and then again at the riser termination
area. Once, VoIP is installed, this cabling system between the data racks
and the backboard goes away.
5) All voice and
data cables are rated no less that Cat 5 as VoIP systems will not run on
anything less. In today's buildings were are normally installing Cat 6 and
occasionally, Cat 5e.
Now, we need to get caught up
with the UPS for the cabling rooms. Most cabling rooms are not on the
building UPS. Guess what. VoIP systems in the cabling rooms will go
down with a loss of power. This is a very foreign concept to users who are
either on Centrex or a PBX with a 4-6 hour battery. During a loss of
power, you've always been able to pick up your phone and use it. No
longer. When designing your new building or modifying your existing
building, you must now include UPS power to your cabling rooms in your design
specifications. You must also now include the calculations for these
systems into the projected load to be placed on the UPS.
we suggest that you consider using the analog lines for your fax, Polycom and
other analog devices for your emergency phones. This means keeping them on
copper circuits and not on the VoIP phone system. The tradeoffs are worth
it. Once you see how VoIP works, there's no turning
AVAYA SELLS SYSTIMAX TO
As we finish this newsletter, we see the announcement
that Avaya has sold their Connectivity Solutions Group to Commscope. This
includes the Systimax cabling solutions. We talked to our Avaya reps and
they confirmed the sale. They indicate that Commscope will retain them as
a separate subsidiary. Our opinion is "wishful thinking".
We've known that ever since Avaya split off from Lucent, the cabling business
has been nothing but a stepchild. Still, our Avaya reps have been
wonderful and responsive and we hope that this doesn't change. Stay
HAVE YOU CALLED YOU LOCAL CALL CENTER
Have you called Dell
technical support lately? How about Earthlink? Called GE for a
service call on your major appliances? How about dozens of other firms
with call centers? Does everyone you talk to seem to have a foreign
accent? SURPRISE!!. You are talking to call centers in INDIA.
That's right, India. We were recently in contact
with Dell on a software problem we were having with one of our systems.
After talking to about 6 different people, some of whom we could barely
understand, we asked, "where is this call center located?". The
answer: "Bangalore, India". "How many people work in your
call center?" we asked, "2,000" was the reply.
GULP. The Dell representatives that we spoke to were very kind and patient
but they were not able as proficient in solving our problems as the Dell people
we used to speak with in Texas.
Manufacturers and service firms are increasingly
trading American jobs for $2hr-$3hr jobs in India - PERMANENTLY.
Reportedly, in addition to service calls, GE has outsourced the work done by 300
attorneys to $10/hr labor resources in India. EDS reportedly will
outsource 20,000 programmer jobs shortly to India. $2/hr. vs. $58,000/yr.
is the justification.
indicate that the U.S. is losing hundreds of thousands of permanent jobs to
India. It seems that once we can commoditize a service, we can ship it
offshore. It seemed to start in 1998 with Year 2000 programming fixes where
an estimated 25% of all Y2K work was done off shore. Since then, data
centers have been built in large Indian cities. These cities themselves
experience unstable power, shortages of water and other deficiencies. But,
not the large data centers. They have been built to be failsafe.
These data centers are big money to the local economies and the people are
highly educated, highly motivated and will work for a lot less than you
can. Large call centers are also appearing in Nova Scotia and in Calgary,
Alberta, Canada. Expect more outsourcing to these less expensive
UNEXPECTED EXPENSES WHEN PULLING PERMITS FOR RENOVATION
a result of being brought onto projects after the budgeting is complete
and the design has begun, we advise you not to overlook some very costly
items that you did not plan to see as part of your renovation project.
We're talking about having to bring certain types of systems up to more current
codes as a result of pulling permits on planned work. For
example, one firm was upgrading their UPS and adding additional wall panels for
more equipment. They were required to bring all electrical systems up to
1998 NEC code. Ouch! On another project, a major telecom local provider has
5,100 pairs in a demarc serving two 17-story buildings. The cables were
installed three decades ago and are not on fused protector blocks. We
raised the issue with the local Fire Marshall and he said that they had to be
brought up to NEC 1998. Hello fused protector blocks. Now the
and the carrier are in discussions to see who pays for the upgrade. You would
think the local carrier would be fully responsible. They don't think
so. Still another example is a new client that is upgrading their computer
room. The room won't expand but their will be significant modifications to
the room. They have an older Halon total flooding system in the
room. Hello $60,000 for an unplanned upgrade to FM-200. Hopefully,
by reading this article, you can investigate those areas that you think may be
grand-fathered in a renovation.
READY DATES FOR IT
SPACES - NEW CONSTRUCTION
A problem that we continually encounter
on new construction projects, and a problem that we dealt with on one of the
projects above, is the date or dates that you will have access to your IT
spaces for what is called "customer fit-up". This includes
access to the computer room, MDF, the TR's and possibly specialized labs and other IT
spaces to install racks, cabling, routers, switches, PBX equipment, etc. The
problem occurs when your well planned 30-45 day for fit-up of the initial
routers, servers and PBX prior to the beginning of the move events erodes to
about 2 weeks (and sometimes less). In our project, there was an important
change in the electrical design that caused a delay in delivering the buildings
on time. Facilities would not push out the move dates so IT went into a
"heightened state of activity". We made it on time but it was a
lot of work.
What causes the problem? The
largest part of the problem is not being directly involved in the construction
meetings where timing and scheduling is discussed. Second, the general
contractor's main objective is to deliver a complete package and not just the IT
spaces. The GC
realizes your needs and understands your request but delivering your IT spaces
while other major parts of the building are not yet complete is in general, not
the way buildings are built -especially large buildings. So you have to be
diligent and persuasive.
So how do you get smart about this
potential problem? First, obtain a copy of the construction plan well
before construction begins and review the dates. Make sure that you can
determine from the dates when the IT spaces will be turned over to you.
Often times, it is the GC's expectation that you can't accept any premises or
begin fit-up work before he's done. It that's your expectation, everything
is fine. However, if it's not, this discrepancy needs to be resolved while
the steel is going up and not closer to the end of the project. Second,
locate the dates for the paint,
carpet and linoleum start and finish dates. Next, understand that these
dates are often "place holders" and may not reflect the actual
dates. Understanding these dates will give you a good idea of if, or if
not, you can expect your IT spaces on time. You also have to follow the
notes of the construction meetings to make sure these dates firm up.
Note that you can begin "Customer Fit-Up" before the Certificate of
Occupancy (COO). This includes the installation of carrier lines, core
routers, switches in the cabling rooms, the PBX system and initial
servers. It is reasonable to get your new facility up and on the company
network. What you can't do prior to the COO is to go into
production. Usually, this is by prior arrangement with the GC. You
may have to do a punch list of of the IT facility being turned over and assume
all responsibilities for the room once you have it but it can be done.
What the GC doesn't want is somebody in his rooms that can scratch and damage
the room before it's turned over.
From time to time, the ABR Consulting Group,
Inc. will e-mail you condensed information for the ever-changing and
every-dynamic world of designing, planning and relocating data centers, server
rooms, labs and other key IT/IS spaces. All you have to do is place your
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Contact us at www.abrconsulting.com