10 Steps to Upgrading Your Data Center

Upgrading a vintage data center’s MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) infrastructure will cost-effectively extend its lifespan. By following a sound plan and partnering with the right vendors, any organization can successfully upgrade a vintage data center. These ten steps are designed to help you navigate the overhaul of your facility.
1. Assemble the right project team.
Be sure to include stakeholders on the team. It’s also important to break down silos between the IT and facilities departments. Before starting the project, you should all agree on its goals and objectives. Next, select proven vendors to carry out the plan.
2. Conduct a thorough assessment.
Proper planning will help ensure your project runs smoothly. To begin with, review all of the current limitations within your facility. Next, identify all potential solutions. Consult with experienced vendors to help you further evaluate your plan of action.
3. Establish a business case.
Weigh the costs and benefits of your proposal, including non-financial considerations. Investigate the possibility of rebates and incentives, which can slash costs significantly. Finally, understand that your project will require application submission before you can begin.
4. Define your objectives.
Your goals should be well thought out and well documented, as should your success criteria. Be sure to include what falls in and out of the project scope.
5. Plan the project.
Specify all aspects, such as how you will minimize disruption to production workloads. It is also critical to identify potential problems ahead of time, and develop contingency measures for dealing with them.
6. Execute the plan.
Conduct regular status meetings along the way. Be sure to work only with experienced, qualified contractors who understand the complexity of the project.
7. Update blueprints.
Revise your existing blueprints to reflect all of the MEP changes that have been completed to ensure future accuracy. You may want to hire an engineer or draftsman to assist with this endeavor.
8. Conduct tests.
Proper testing will help you avoid unexpected problems down the line. Be sure to thoroughly test every system within your data center that was changed, added or replaced during the revitalization process. Test your systems both individually and collectively.
9. Validate the results.
No project is complete until you ensure that all of your goals and objectives have been met. To achieve true objectivity, consider partnering with knowledgeable equipment and testing vendors to execute this final step.
10. Performing an arc flash hazard analysis.
If a data center retrofit included electrical changes, checking the revised infrastructure for compliance with current arc flash safety codes is critical. An arc flash hazard analysis can help businesses spot arc flash risks and identify appropriate mitigation strategies. Data centers should always conduct hazard studies in partnership with a qualified power systems engineer.