Mark Svenkeson, Professional Electrical Engineer and President of Hypertect (, says:

What constitutes a good data center design?

One which efficiently meets the needs of the client. It should contain the following aspects:

  • Be flexible to adapt to changing requirements and technology
  • Be reliable in supporting customer processing
  • Be maintainable, so as to retain design reliability over time
  • Include vendor-neutral solutions to encourage competitive procurement
  • Be well-documented and understood by owner/customer

Why is a data center’s design important for an enterprise’s success?

A data center is a highly complex electrical and mechanical environment. The processing operation housed therein is central to the company’s financial success; outages cost money and clientele. Processing technologies continue to evolve at fast rates, and a facility which can adapt with minimal disruption will present minimal overall costs. A facility which continues to operate seamlessly during times of utility outages and equipment failures will maximize profits.

What key considerations go into designing a data center?

Obtaining the best answers to the following questions:

  • What level of reliability is required?
  • What are the power density expectations?
  • Does the system include maintainability of all components which contribute to reliability?
  • Does the design take advantage of natural physics and environment?
  • Does the location provide access to required communication and power infrastructure and have space for heat rejection and power generation?

What pitfalls can designers and builders typically fall into?

Applying vendor solutions without understanding the implications. Forgetting that, during a utility outage, when generators are starting, the cooling system may not be functioning, but the heat load is always present. Designing specific solutions for immediate concerns, while neglecting flexibility considerations required to support future needs and technologies.

What advice can you give to a company that is looking at several different design/building companies?


  • Does the company have exclusive vendor relationships? (These can impact procurement decisions.)
  • Does the company provide in-house engineering and project management, or does it rely on contractor design/build?
  • Dual-corded processing requires dual-path support infrastructure for complete implementation.
  • High power densities require uninterruptible cooling.
  • KISS is a valid design principle.