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Developing data centres between 30 and 50% faster

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

Global Data Center Lead at ABB
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colocation data centres

With an increasing flow of customers requiring colocation server space, the market is looking for ways to expand and develop data centres more quickly and generate revenue from their build investments sooner. Saving time during the build phase can generate impressive revenues far sooner for colocation data centres.

Having the right amount of high-quality colocation space to offer new customers entering the market is key to remaining competitive in a new business landscape that is fast-paced and highly competitive. In doing so, it is important that colocation providers do not over-commit to expansions or new campuses that will remain partially empty for extended periods – costing money to run, but not generating a return. This “pay-as-you-grow” approach secures new revenue streams quickly and keeps cash flow optimised.

Shorter, modular build phases are the answer. In other words, building just the space required, in the shortest timeframe possible to keep upfront investment low and generate quick returns so that the next phase can begin.

That sounds simple enough in theory, but when faced with a raft of contractors and the complexities of a build programme, having a clear strategy in place to make building or expanding data centres more rapidly is crucial.

Before we discuss some tried and tested rapid build strategies proven to speed up data centre deployment, let us first understand the true financial impact of slow construction.

The days of “stick-built” data centres are numbered

At present, using traditional “stick-built” build methods, building a data centre takes between 18 and 24 months, or longer – a timeframe that is simply ineffective for a market growing at such an exponential rate. This is a highly competitive space, so new customers do not want to wait for build completion, and nor do they have to, with space opening all the time at competitive prices.

In other words, the quicker you build, the more competitive you become, and the more revenue you will secure.

Take a typical 10MW colocation site leasing at $150 kW per month. For every month the facility is under development, $1.5 million in revenue is lost – so the shorter the build time, the earlier the revenue stream will begin showing profit. If the same colocation facility was to open after six months, instead of 18 months, the data centre earns $18 million in revenue, meaning when it comes to data centre build speed, time really is money.

New build strategies for better revenue

By working with the right solutions provider, data centre owners can benefit from a range of proven strategies that can help them and their build contractors to develop data centres between 30 and 50% faster. Let us take a brief look at four of the most effective strategies for a faster data centre build. These are concepts that ABB believe set out a pathway of improvement for generating more revenue, faster.

Modular, prefabricated solutions support faster builds and promote scalability

Like much of the construction sector, the traditional planning, designing and on-site fabrication of a new data centre is time consuming. Switching in favour of modern, modular and prefabricated solutions can cut this time significantly to shorten build times and generate revenue faster.

eHouses are a well-known example of a solution that can be prefabricated and transported to site. Already factory-tested to meet all relevant data centre regulations, prefabricated solutions like this can be shipped as a package in one purchase order to simplify communications and logistics to a single point of contact, saving manpower on-site and streamlining processes.

Re-engineer service strategy to improve speed, lower total cost of ownership and increase reliability

Project scheduling issues have cascading consequences. A delay from one technician, on one task affects the efficiency of other tasks that follow. In turn, this creates budget overruns, sudden order changes and increased safety issues.

Surprisingly, prefabrication is also the answer to improving the reliability and speed of data centre service strategy, while reducing total cost of ownership. Because these solutions are all pretested and debugged to begin with, site engineers simply need to plug-and-play, meaning site connection, functional testing and commissioning all happening much faster.

Implement digitalisation to facilitate swift deployment of solutions

Digitalisation is most commonly associated with improving visibility and condition of the data centre; many fail to realise its potential in speeding up deployment and profitability.

One way to boost speed to deployment is going digital with equipment such as switchgear. Because it requires less wiring, digital switchgear takes less time to assemble than traditional switchgear. Its sensor technology provides the flexibility to change system parameters late in the production cycle or in the field, eliminating costly and time-consuming hardware changes.

The flexibility also extends to equipment functionality updates, allowing users to make modifications in the field by downloading different software to the digital devices or adjusting via built-in device settings.

Use advanced online tools for fast and accurate configuration

The conventional way in which low-voltage products and accessories are configured can be time-consuming, difficult, and prone to errors. These errors can cause delays in manufacturing or worse, can mean delivering the wrong product on-site. Using a configurator to place an order (e.g., using a web application with a three-dimensional visual interface) is a simplified and accurate way to go when looking to save time, costs, and eliminate errors to ensure speed of deployment.

Learn more about these proven strategies

The future of the data centre market is bright, and rich with opportunity for forward-thinking management to realise ROI sooner than usual. With the technologies and tools discussed here, data centre owners and operators can add speed without sacrificing functionality, reliability or safety.

We have covered these four strategies and more in comprehensive detail in our recent whitepaper, download it today to learn more: ‘Race to ROI: Game-changing strategies to generate data centre revenue in record time’.

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