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Top 10 Data Centre Commissioning Process Errors

Data Centre commissioning is an insurance policy that helps to ensure the success of a Data Centre design / build project. A proper commissioning exercise reviews and tests the Data Centre’s physical infrastructure design as a holistic system. Data Centres are designed and built in order to address corporate business requirements. Commissioning validates the investment by providing a framework for successful operation of the Data Centre.  
Publicly traded companies should consult with their audit departments to determine whether they are required to enlist an independent commissioning agent to help manage the commissioning process. In most cases an independent commissioning agent is recommended because commissioning documentation can sometimes appear in publicly released corporate documents such as annual reports. These types of documents mandate impartiality.

Error 1: Failure to Engage the Commissioning Agent Prior to Data Centre Construction

Symptom: Chaotic commissioning process with high degrees of stress and confusion.
Consequences: Chaotic commissioning process with high degrees of stress and confusion.
Solution: Engage the commissioning agent under contract several weeks prior to construction of the Data Centre.

Error 2: Failure to Align with Current Technology

Symptom: The Data Centre experiences  significant failures after the commissioning process.
Consequences: Time delays if re-commissioning is required. Unanticipated downtime.
Solution: Employ updated testing procedures consistent with the technology generation of the equipment being commissioned.

Error 3: Failure to Identify Clear Roles for Commissioning Team Members

Symptom: Multiple individuals are attempting to fulfill the same role, or several individuals are taxed with too many responsibilities.
Invalid test results, delayed testing schedules, need to repeat tests, and possible injury.
Clear delineation of roles of vendors, consultants, commissioning agent, facility and IT staffs in terms of who performs which series of tasks.

Error 4: Failure to Validate the Commissioning Script

Symptom: The script is unclear and is misinterpreted by various members of the team.
Commissioning tests experience a series of false starts and commissioning steps are
Rehearse the script prior to commissioning with team members to make sure all procedures are

Error 5: Failure to Survive Project Budget Cuts 

Symptom: Budget cuts under the guise of  “value engineering” diminish the role of the commissioning agent.
Commissioning schedules are curtailed and this introduces additional opportunities for human error.
Incorporate commissioning budgets early in the project process and be prepared to often restate the benefits of commissioning.

Error 6: Failure to Simulate “Real World” Heat Loads 

Symptom: “Best guess” analysis on how individual equipment components will impact performance and reliability of the Data Centre as a whole.
Increased likelihood of costly downtime once the data centre is operating.
Deploy tools that allow for genuine holistic testing and monitoring of the data centre physical infrastructure.

Error 7: Failure to Identify Weak Links in the System 

Symptom: Various component tests fail during commissioning.
Extra time is spent diagnosing the tests and the commissioning test schedule needs to be extended.
A checklist of anticipated functionality inputs and outputs should be derived for each critical component listed in the test schedule.

Error 8: Failure to Publish Emergency Operational Procedures   

Symptom: Data Centre personnel have trouble determining cause and effect when they encounter
physical infrastructure equipment failures.

Overall Data Centre operating efficiency levels drop with an increased risk of downtime.
Post the emergency operational procedures during the commissioning process so that future Data Centre operators are informed and aware.

Error 9: Failure to Consider the Impact of Human Fatigue on Test Results

Symptom: Commissioning staff are consistently logging 12 to 18 hour work days.
Employees will take shortcuts, or lose concentration resulting in personal injury or in the Data Centre deployment being delayed.
Rotate staff during the commissioning process so that each individual has a backup who can step in and continue to perform the testing. Ensure that work shifts are reasonable.

Error 10: Failure to Update Commissioning Documentation

Symptom: Root cause analysis of Data Centre failures is difficult or impossible to perform.
Operations continue without a high level of confidence that uptime will be maintained.
Establish a disciplined documentation update process to supplement the initial commissioning documentation.


  • Pelco
  • Schneider Electric Partner
  • APC Partner