A floor plan strongly affects the power density capability and electrical efficiency of a data centre. Despite this critical role in data centre design, many floor plans are established through incremental deployment without a central plan. Once a poor floor plan has been deployed, it is often difficult or impossible to recover the resulting loss of performance.
A data centre floor plan includes the layout of the boundaries of the room (or rooms) and the layout of IT equipment within the room. Most users do not understand how critical the floor layout is to the performance of a data centre, or they only understand its importance after a poor layout has compromised the deployment. The floor plan either determines or strongly affects the following characteristics of a data centre:
Many users do not appreciate these effects during data centre planning, and do not establish the floor layout early enough. As a result, many data centres unnecessarily provide suboptimal performance.
Floor plans must be considered and developed at the appropriate point in the data centre design process. Considering floor plans during the detailed design phase is typical, but simply too late in the process. Floor plans should instead be considered to be part of the preliminary specification and determined BEFORE detailed design begins.
It is not necessary for a floor layout to comprehend the exact location of specific IT devices. Effective floor plans only need to consider the location of equipment racks or other cabinets, and to target power densities. These preliminary floor layouts do not require knowledge of specific IT equipment.
For most users it is futile to attempt to specify particular IT equipment locations in advance – in fact, racks may ultimately house equipment that is not even available on the market at the time the data centre is designed.
The reasons that floor plans must be considered early, as part of the preliminary specification, and not left until the later detailed design include:
Density and phasing plans are a key part of any data centre project specification, and both require a row layout. Detailed design can only commence after density, phasing, and criticality have been specified.
Therefore, a floor plan must be established early in the specification phase of a project, after SYSTEM CONCEPT but well before DETAILED DESIGN.