Michael Petrino, vice president at PTS Data Center Solutions (www.PTSdcs.com), says:

How can you ensure a smooth process?

Do not let prince be your guiding factor. When selecting a professional services firm, have a weighted ranking system when evaluating potential candidates (experience, references, overall impression, price, and approach). It is important to have synergy with your vendors, as much of your communication will be over email or phone, even with vendors who are local. I also recommend taking meeting minutes after conference calls and distributing them after the call, similar to construction meetings. 
Construction meetings are very important and are more effective when scheduled on Tuesday or Wednesday, this allows for Friday deadlines and helps set the direction of what needs to be accomplished that week as well as to plan to any weekend work ahead of time. 

How do you know who to involve in the process? 
The team needs to be diverse both internally and externally. Start with an executive sponsorship, followed by an external data center consultant. The following are also key: 
  • Architect: many jurisdictions require an architect be involved as the design authority as you have life safety considerations. So, a firm with data center experience is a positive attribute that can be augmented with a data center consultant. 
  • Engineering: (mechanical, electrical, structural) all of these trades will be required and their knowledge of how these different systems work together is imperative. 
  • Move consultant: the task of moving your critical IT infrastructure should not be left to your local office moving company. This is an important detailed task which involves building rack elevations, labeling devices, labeling cables, unracking, packing and moving properly in bins, followed by unpacking and installation at the new location. 

A list of imperatives. 
  • Process: stick to the design process, by skipping steps we often find that the result is change orders and schedule delays. 
  •  Design team: it is important to have the design team involved in the construction process to offer continuity and consistent results. 
  •  Contractors: clients are often initially please with the low bid price but that can quickly change to displeasure in the long term when the contractor produce poor quality work due to inexperience. It is imperative to select contractors that have familiarity working in data center environments. 

This is an excellent opportunity to make policy changes as you improve your data center. Things such as limiting access, improving security, and physically separating the production environment form test or development equipment. Improve the organization of the environment and take steps to get the unnecessary storage out of the data center.

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