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Key Considerations for White Space Builds

By Steve Altizer, President – Compu Dynamics, LLC

Hyperscale and multi-MW (Mega Watt) colocation deployments are driving the unprecedented development of dozens of large data centers. Much of this growth has been focused around major cities such as Ashburn, Dallas, Phoenix, and Chicago, where network providers are able to share traffic. Our experience with data center design and white space deployments of 10-10,000 racks has provided us with a unique perspective on what our customers desire the most. The following are a few of our observations:

Professional Contractors Add Unique Value

Large white space builds need to be managed professionally by qualified contractors that possess both technical expertise as well as a “builder’s” mentality. While pure-play electrical or low voltage contractors often bring a depth of knowledge regarding power distribution and data center infrastructure, some have never been responsible for the management of multiple trades. Compu Dynamics has literally pioneered the “GC of the White Space” business model.

It’s best to avoid firms who simply broker the work of others and add little value. Today’s environments demand experience with complex implementations including design engineering, electrical work, structured cabling, thermal management, liquid cooling, cages/security, DCIM, installation of owner-furnished infrastructure, and commissioning. Your fit-out partner needs to be paying attention to site performance and safety 100% of the time, not flying in for a one-day visit every month.

Delivering to a Schedule Demands More than Just Effort

Today, data center projects are becoming more complex at the same time that schedules are being compressed.  Data center design best practices are constantly changing. Compu Dynamics and our team of data center buildout specialists are comfortable with the challenges inherent in delivering solutions within aggressive timelines and critical schedules.  This is what we do.  Juggling jobsite logistics, building rules and regs, local jurisdictional idiosyncrasies, safety concerns, ongoing construction within the same space, live IT operations in adjacent spaces, and operator deadlines are just a few of the many forces that challenge those who take on white space builds.

Communication is Critical

Customers require regular and detailed communication. This is rarely stated as a requirement, but is always appreciated. Unfortunately, the absence of communication is not always realized until it’s too late. Nothing can be gained by keeping a customer in the dark. Whether it’s good news or bad, having an awareness of a project’s status helps the end user plan their own activities, equipment deliveries, turn-up schedules, and more. A good deployment partner will keep customers informed through frequent meetings, status reports, minutes, schedule updates, and face-to-face discussions.

Awareness of Technology Trends is a Plus

An understanding of the latest technologies and data center infrastructure can make an enormous difference in the quality of the solution provided.  IT technology changes daily, and at the same time data center power, cooling, and network infrastructure products and solutions must evolve to keep pace.  The white space solution needs to match the technology deployed.  If it doesn’t, the site will never efficiently meet the end user’s expectations.  Long-established partnerships with leading manufacturers can enable a deployment team that is able to create the right combination of components to serve specific technology needs.

The Supply Chain is now the Critical Path

Post-Covid, manufacturers are still struggling with the increased demand and their own component supply issues.  This is leading to longer-than-normal lead times on major equipment such as RPPs, busway, and breakers.  New entrants are stepping up to satisfy the demand, but there is added risk when working with an inexperienced manufacturer.  A good fit-out partner will track progress within the manufacturing plant, and not just at the loading dock.  Surprises are always unwelcome when delivering for a data center client.

Compu Dynamics is a unique organization with in-house expertise in Electrical, Mechanical, General Trades, Low Voltage, and Cage construction.  We serve clients throughout the US and Canada.  We pride ourselves on being a customer friendly “service” organization with the performance mentality of a general contractor.  With a two-decades-long focus on mission critical data center designconstruction and maintenance, Compu Dynamics provides unmatched capabilities in the white space build-out industry.  Our heritage as a self-performing contractor allows us to provide our clients with the knowledge, tools, materials, and techniques needed to ensure they receive the highest quality data center design and installation at the most reasonable price. Contact us to learn more.

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