Colocation providers need to expand their data center facility for a variety of reasons:
- They signed a deal with a hyperscale data center company and need to ramp up capacity.
- They’re bringing on new tenants or are anticipating doing so in the future.
- They’ve taken on outside investment that’s requiring them to bring on more capacity.
- They’re moving from primary markets to secondary markets, where real estate is much more affordable.
Whatever the case may be, colocation providers will need to move quickly to bring new servers online. Failure to act decisively could very well mean the difference between landing new business and disrupting your current operations.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best practices when building or expanding your colocation facility, to keep your existing tenants happy while ensuring costs stay within budget.
1. Use a skid-based solution.
If budget is one of your biggest concerns when starting a new project, you will want to take the modular approach to data center facility construction.
Essentially, this means building a skid-based solution inside a vendor’s climate-controlled factory, that is then shipped to your site and installed by a team of technicians. When taking this approach, it’s easier to control costs while ensuring you end up with a quality data center and power solution on the other side.
From what we’ve seen, this is the current direction the market is headed in, as most colocation providers end up investing in modular design when building a new facility or expanding an existing one.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have projects that start from scratch on greenfield sites. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it is the most expensive way to bring on additional capacity and is not a strategic option for most.
2. Make sure existing operations continue to run smoothly.
For every colocation provider, existing clients are the bread and butter. They’re the revenue stream. When customers are unhappy, cash flow problems are right around the corner.
That being the case, it’s critical that you don’t disrupt your existing tenants’ service when expanding your current footprint or power capabilities.
There isn’t much—if any—flexibility given to colocation providers in this regard, as preventing downtime is the expectation.
If you violate your service-level agreement (SLA) during an expansion, you might be on the hook for penalties depending on the terms in your contract. You may also lose customers, due to it being relatively easy for tenants to move somewhere else in the colocation market. Both of which will make your expansion project’s cost outweigh the benefits.
As you build out your data center facilities, always ensure you do it as nondisruptively as you possibly can, and prioritize your clients’ needs and expectations..
3. Understand your needs and constraints, while choosing your path accordingly.
While we’re biased toward the modular approach to data center facility construction and wish it was for everyone, it’s sometimes not. If you don’t have any capital expenditure or time line constraints, stick-building is likely the way to go. For example, a hyperscale provider that is building out capacity in a new market, as part of a five-year plan, might have the resources and flexibility of schedule needed to get the most out of an investment in stick-built data centers. But let’s be honest: few companies have that kind of luxury.
When a need arises quickly, it's easy to go with a process that feels comfortable. If using a modular solution feels like a risk, many don’t take the next step of finding out if it truly is, and they miss out on a process that can help their facility better and more efficiently prepare for when rapid expansion is needed.
The modular approach even affords colocators the ability to pre-build additional data center units that can be shipped to any of their locations as needed, making them the ideal solution for colocators who plan on scaling in the future. That’s the kind of flexibility this approach can bring to an industry that is always changing. It also beats building a data center from scratch and ending up with a ton of stranded capacity.
To meet budget and time line requirements, while ending up with the data center solution for your needs on the other end, you need to find a trusted partner that can help you understand your options and make an educated decision about the best way forward. The last thing you want is to end up joining forces with a vendor that steers you toward a specific solution that’s desirable for them, and doesn’t meet your unique requirements.
Take the modular approach to data center construction.
Whatever your reason for building or expanding your data center, you should be focused on upgrading, as well as providing high-quality capacity quickly and affordably, which is why modular data center design should be top of mind for your organization.
If you need more convincing of the merits of modular data center construction, check out our free guide: The Complete Guide to Modular Data Center Solutions.