1.How does ComputerSite Engineering address unique business needs?
Q:My business requirements are unique, unlike anyone else in our industry. How do I know ComputerSite Engineering will address my company’s needs?
A:Clients work directly with ComputerSite Engineering principals on every project. Every ComputerSite Engineering principal has extensive experience in developing and operating data center infrastructure, and will guide the client in building the business case matching their requirements. This customized business case will be the foundation for creating the criteria determining project success.
2.How do I certify my data center facility?
Q:How do I certify my data center facility?
A:Data center facility certification is accomplished by a team that inspects your facility and reviews all infrastructure systems (electrical and cooling), along with the Facilities staffing levels and procedures employed to operate and maintain the infrastructure systems. This is generally a two-week process. A report is generated with detailed feedback on each system and its strengths and weaknesses; then a letter of certification is presented along with a plaque, which will identify the Tier Level that your overall site is certified for. The weakest infrastructure system Tier Level rating will dictate the level the overall facility is certified for. Please see our white paper “Industry Standard Tier Classifications Define Site Infrastructure Performance” for more information.
3.Does ComputerSite Engineering provide stamped and signed design documents?
Q:Does ComputerSite Engineering provide stamped and signed design documents?
A:No. ComputerSite Engineering provides facilities infrastructure performance consulting and conceptual design guidance. ComputerSite Engineering also helps the client manage their design consultants.
4.Why doesn’t ComputerSite Engineering provide Engineer of Record services?
Q:Why doesn’t ComputerSite Engineering provide Engineer of Record services?
A:ComputerSite Engineering does have alliance partners that provide Engineer of Record services when appropriate, but recommends that clients build and maintain an EOR relationship for long term support with a local, trusted engineering firm.
5.Where does ComputerSite Engineering fit in my project team?
Q:If I have a local Engineer of Record, where does ComputerSite Engineering fit in my project team?
A:Typically, local engineering firms’ solutions will meet local code and life safety requirements, providing economical designs, but most do not have the extensive data center, or technology facility experience of ComputerSite Engineering. ComputerSite Engineering acts as an extension of the owners’ staff, guiding the design, construction, and transition to operations, using performance criteria, focused on meeting IT requirements for availability and reliability of facility infrastructure. ComputerSite Engineering principals have guided the development of nearly $2 billion in data center projects.
6.Industry Standard Tier Classifications and “Construction $/ft2 raised floor”
Q:What costs are included in the “Construction $/ft2 raised floor” in the Tier summary chart found in the Industry Standard Tier Classification Define Site Infrastructure Performance© White Paper?
A:The costs shown in the chart included in the White Paper include code and life safety requirements for the building shell, typical physical security characteristics found in most data centers in each tier, power and cooling systems required for computing environments, and the monitoring and alarms systems most often found in technology facility applications. Other costs such as: severe weather and explosive protection, high end architectural finishes, cages and enclosures for client segregation, migration and IT equipment, and structured cable systems for data networks are in addition to the values shown in the chart.
7.What is the appropriate staff size for my data center’s Facilities team?
Q:What is the appropriate staff size for my data center’s Facilities team?
A:Facilities staff size should be dictated by the uptime level desired. If a site can afford occasional downtime, then a 24×7 staff is not a requirement. If optimal uptime is a requirement, than a minimum of one person per shift who is fully trained in all emergency procedures is required. This provides the opportunity to recover from an engine-generator failure or a cooling system failure. Both scenarios typically are not downtime events if someone is on site that can respond immediately.
Although it is counter-intuitive, many sites have saved on operating expenses by staffing at least two individuals on each shift. Two individuals per shift permit most maintenance activities to be performed in-house, allowing the facility to systematically replace outside contracts for monthly, quarterly, and annual service. Because most maintenance activities take two people to perform (cable pulling, lifting, “hot” work, etc.) one person per shift only provides someone who is on standby until something goes wrong.
8.How does Level 5 Commissioning compare to ASHRAE and IEEE commissioning recommendations?
Q:What is “Level 5 Commissioning,” and how does it compare to ASHRAE and IEEE commissioning recommendations?
A:Level 5 Commissioning is a cross-division, or integrated systems, performance evaluation. Most construction teams will complete manufacturer and installer testing to show compliance to the various specification divisions (Div 15 Mechanical, Div 16 Electrics, Div 17 Controls, for example), but do not demonstrate how the systems operate together. Level 5 Commissioning demonstrates how the site infrastructure, such as chillers, pumping systems, uninterruptible power sources, static switches and engine-generators will likely perform as a system over the next 60 months. This effort also provides performance and efficiency benchmarks to use in diagnosing future maintenance needs.
9.When UPS batteries are replaced, should the UPS be left on commercial power or transferred to engine generator power?
Q:When UPS batteries are replaced, should the UPS be left on commercial power or transferred to engine generator power?
A:There is no “one right answer.” Each client must make the decision for himself or herself. Some things to consider are listed below:
Where is the site geographically? How stable is your power utility? How large is your center in load (kW)? Is your engine plant redundant so if an engine fails the remaining engine(s) will still carry the load? How loaded will the engine plant be as a % of redline (i.e. do not load major equipment more than 90% of it’s nominal capacity)? Has your engine plant successfully run recently for an extended period under load (at least 24 hours) so you have confidence in it? Can you get the load to your engine generators via closed transition (without using battery power)? Or open transition, where batteries are required to make the transition? How bad are the batteries?
How does the utility come to your site? What voltage does the utility come to the site at? Overhead through rural area with a lot of trees? What has the service reliability been?
In either case (i.e. raw utility or engine plant operation), you would likely defer battery replacement during days where thunderstorms or heavy rain or snow was predicted, or on a Friday or a Saturday night.
These questions gather the information with which to make the decision.
If the batteries are weak or suspect, you will likely have a failure while transferring to the engines if you have an open transition transfer which I would guess is likely for your site. This would argue for doing the battery work on raw utility and taking a chance the utility will not glitch.
If you can do closed transition transfer (i.e. transfer from utility to generator without a light blink) and the engines are N+1 and have been run under load for at least the number of hours that it will take to replace batteries, then using the engine plant is a preferred alterative.
10.Why should I engage ComputerSite Engineering to provide equipment procurement, doesn’t our contractor provide that?
Q:Why should I engage ComputerSite Engineering to provide equipment procurement, doesn’t our contractor provide that?
A:Yes. And, included in your contactor price, you are paying someone to provide this line item budgeted service. A more appropriate question is: Who is in the best position to…Negotiate industry wide contacts and contracts,Manage the RFP processProvide critical equipment sizing and design,Manage the procurement process among multiple vendors,Assist in manufacturer selection,Monitor and schedule delivery and placement,Verify manufacturer submittal and shop drawings,Optimize cost benchmarking and equipment packaging
Often, the contractor proceeds in purchasing major equipment without the involvement of the owner and engineer of record as to the criteria and selection. At the end of the process, you get what they bought, which may or may not be what you wanted or needed.
11.What else can I expect from ComputerSite Engineering?
Q:What else can I expect from ComputerSite Engineering?
A:Some of the more subtle advantages of using ComputerSite Engineering are:We can be on-board prior to contractor selection and retention – in fact, we can even help with selectionWe can provide pre-RFI/RFP planningLong lead (manufacture and delivery) equipment items can be ordered earlier which shortens overall construction project lengthWe have many, many years of construction and major equipment purchasing experienceWe know the value of the equipment prior to you ever receiving the quotesWe can augment your engineer of record to incorporate best practices into your specificationsWe can interface between the owner, the owner’s procurement department and manufacturers to include any unique requirements into the purchasing processWe are essentially free (cost neutral, i.e., you will pay someone for this service)
12.Compare ComputerSite Engineering to my installing sub–contractor. What’s wrong with using them?
Q:Compare ComputerSite Engineering to my installing sub–contractor. What’s wrong with using them?
A:Nothing. They are for the most part good at what they do. But, you have to ask yourself how many Tier III and IV data centers have they installed and where? Currently, only a limited universe of Tier III and IV data centers even exist. And those centers are spread out over the country and internationally. We don’t usually find that any one contractor has participated in more than one, if at all. ComputerSite Engineering, on the other hand has a long list of clients. See ComputerSite Engineering Client List. Additionally, the cost of our expertise is already included somewhere in the project. Typically, it is found within the budget for the installing electrical or mechanical contractor – who may not have the experience or inclination to perform all the necessary steps to ensure maximum critical equipment performance both initially and over the project lifecycle. The fact that our service is a budgeted cost renders the benefit of our expertise essentially “free.” ComputerSite Engineering management allows clients to utilize engineers and/or contractors with whom they have had a long relationship, but who may have limited experience in high-power, high-cooling, high-availability data centers. We augment their skills and your staff.
13.So what about our engineer? They say that they are capable of designing Tier IV with Major Equipment purchases?
Q:So what about our engineer? They say that they are capable of designing Tier IV with Major Equipment purchases?
A:See above. Typically, most engineers tend to design along proven past guidelines. Again, we find that the universe of design experience on Tier III and Tier IV data centers is limited. ComputerSite Engineering can augment the knowledge of your engineer of record with our knowledge of (1) abnormal incident reports (a database of over 3000 reports), (2) forensic engineering to discover the root cause of many failures, and (3) a database of experience gained from numerous factory equipment testing, start-up and commissioning efforts where challenges and obstacles had to be overcome. We use these databases to provide the wisdom to recognize ideas that work well in theory, but not well in practice.
14.Generally speaking, what does ComputerSite Engineering Provide?
Q:Generally speaking, what does ComputerSite Engineering Provide?
A:ComputerSite Engineering’s unique capabilities present an extension of our client’s staff, providing interim project staffing, knowledge, or competency. Successfully bringing a new data center or major renovation project on-line, on budget, and on schedule without latent defects utilizing best installation practices requires that the underlying critical electrical and mechanical equipment (UPS, batteries, chillers, generators, etc.) work well the first time. Failure to do this correctly up-front can result in months or years of unintended failures and owner frustration. Previous ComputerSite Engineering projects have proven that an aggressively led critical equipment procurement and installation management effort increases functionality, compresses the schedule and saves money. ComputerSite Engineering’s industry leaders will bring years of manufacturer and product knowledge and practical contractor wisdom to the owner’s side of the table. ComputerSite Engineering’s superior negotiation skills will result in equipment savings typically provides a greater savings than our cost, which offers you our services cost neutral, or simply put, free. It is a fact that nearly 50% of the cost of your data center project is the cost of your major equipment purchases. Is that something that you want to leave to chance?