Photo of a man holding a tablet device in a data center

Building Your Data Center Beyond the Network

30 Sep 2015 by Howard M Cohen

When a customer relocates any of their operations, there’s an unparalleled opportunity to build new infrastructure from the ground up and then manage it. But any IT service provider who has performed a relocation or construction of a new data center knows the biggest stumbling block.

Your progress is brought to a standstill if the electrical contractor didn’t complete installation of the power circuits. What if the carrier didn’t get the new circuits provisioned? You can’t blame or penalize the customer if the room hasn’t been built for the IDF you were scheduled to install.  And good luck trying to get restitution from the other contractors.

Including owner’s representation in your scope of work

You can solve the contractor stumbling block, diversify your offerings and add new revenue streams while providing tremendous value to your customers. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy far more control over the entire project — control that will help you avoid falling victim to the failures of others.

As the owner’s representative, your customer vests you with the authority to manage the overall construction project to successful completion. The earlier you become involved in the process, the more high-margin service opportunities are available to you, including:

Goal setting and requirements definition: The best bet in any project of this magnitude is to begin with the end in mind. What departments and operations will this data center need to support? What equipment will that support require? What needs to be designed into the facility to accommodate all of this equipment? These questions and more inform decisions that must be made around construction requirements, permits, licenses, engineering and architectural considerations.

Site selection: Selecting the right physical location for the new facilities is an art form unto itself, with issues such as identifying available spaces and determining the right geographic location based on proximity to employees, convenience of access, available carrier access and power utilities. There will likely be considerations of multiple carriers that are in the building already, and working with realtors and building agents requires its own specific know-how.

Subcontractor selection: Contractors will be required for all of the construction and communication trades.  Building requirements around union labor, certifications and insurance are all details that must be carefully managed to avoid ugly, time-costly surprises.

Contract negotiation and management: Especially when dealing with midsized businesses, you may have the opportunity to work either on your own or in conjunction with the customer’s legal counsel to negotiate construction and other contracts.

Design and development: You have a unique opportunity to inform the design of the build-out of the space to completely support the requirements of the technologies you’ll be implementing. This is the foundation of the overall plan.

Equipment selection and procurement: Most customers take a relocation or new data center construction as an opportunity to rid themselves of older technology and replace it with new. Helping the customer select the right equipment and procure it cost-effectively are skills most IT service providers have successfully developed over the years.

Service provider selection and engagement: Selecting multiple bandwidth carriers to provide redundancy is almost mandatory for today’s data center. Ordering the required circuits, internal network cabling and wireless provisioning, telephone services, cloud services, security services and more falls within the wheelhouse of most IT service providers and is more reliably accomplished by you than the customer themselves.

Deployment project planning: Once all the other trades have completed their work — which you will have assured happens on time — you’ll deploy all the equipment you helped them procure, and make the actual data center operation a reality.

Project management: The likelihood of a successful project completion skyrockets when the project is properly managed.  You may want to consider hiring or partnering with professionals certified by the Project Management Institute (PMI) to bring the best possible methodology to this process.

Systems and security testing: The best way to avoid surprises on go-live is to carefully and comprehensively test everything in the environment — from the Halon fire protection systems to the firewalls, intrusion prevention services and beyond. Some customers may be required by government regulations to provide documentation of such testing. Even if they are not subject to those regulations, encouraging them to document them is in their best interest — and yours.

Ongoing facilities maintenance and management: All of the equipment and services provisioned for your customer’s new data center needs ongoing maintenance and management. Who better than you to provide it?

Nothing says you have to be able to do all this yourself. In fact, it is the rare IT service provider that has all of these skills and trades on staff. Turn to your advisors at Insight to help you source the best possible contractors and other service providers to deliver the value you are not equipped to provide yourself. You can still enjoy high profitability and the highest customer satisfaction by bringing together the right solutions for your customer.