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What if One Tenant Wants Hot-Aisle Containment and Another Wants Cold-Aisle?

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May 8, 2018
by Josh Anderson

SAN FRANCICSO, CA – Best practices in planning and managing tenant fit-outs in wholesale and colocation data centers are at a bit of a crossroads. Thanks to changing requirements from tenants as well as emerging trends in data center infrastructure and design, there’s a lot to think about. At CapRE’s Northern California Data Center Summit in February, we convened a panel of regional insiders to provide some perspective on making tough decisions. For example, what if one client wants hot-aisle containment and another wants cold-aisle containment?

First, Martin Antunez, Director, Digital Realty One offered some brief insight into this question. “One consideration is that everyone wants to do the deal, and everyone wants that tenant,” he began. “But if the tenant has some eccentricities that are difficult to meet, and they don’t want to move, well what we see some of our clients doing is just divide the space. so that you isolate a client’s space from the rest of the building. And then, in that space, you’re able to do pretty much whatever they want to do, within reason.”

Arman Khalili, CEO, Evocative Data Centers

Next, Arman Khalili, Chief Executive Officer of Evocative Data Centers offered first-hand insight of his own. “We have a site in Emoryville. It was Gen II, colocation, dotcom site. It was a phenomenal facility for when it was built,” he shared. “It’s still quite a nice facility. It’s not a raised floor, which is perfect. But the ceiling height is quite low. And it’s incredibly difficult to do any kind of containment. So instead of just banging our heads and deciding to do some containment, we just treated the whole data center as just one closed containment system. And by turning off certain CRAC units, we created a whole flow. We got the PUE from 2.2 to 1.6. that’s not bad. But it’s a 1.6, right? Everybody’s saying how they’re 1.5 or 1.2 or 1.3. well guess what? If you go from 2.2 to 1.6, that’s pretty good. It’s all relative.”

In response to these comments, moderator Cary Frame, Chief Executive Officer at Polargy asked a follow up question. “How do you think customer requirements will change in the next year? Density is an easy one, for example, but are there connectivity issues that might be different?”

“We operate Meet-Me Rooms in a few of our facilities,” replied Khalil. “We have our own dark fiber backbone. We are building a nationwide IP transit backbone. So for us, the network is, if you remember in the late or mid 90s, it was like Sun [Microsystems] — The computer is the network and the network is the computer. So we truly believe that the network is the key foundation. It’s network, data centers, systems. That’s how we view it. And connectivity is a huge issue, especially as it relates to Type 2 circuits. So even though we can deploy fiber, or in this case release fiber for somebody, or if we get a lit service from anyone that can deliver it, sometimes it takes months and months for that to arrive. In the meantime, the customer is up and running.”

Next, Khalil provided a prediction. “What we envision happening, over the next ten years or so, is the hybrid approach,” he forecasted. “I think that ten years ago, the customer won’t care. As long as you solve the security and the compliance issues, they just want the computing to be solved. That includes Layer I, Layer II, Layer III and Layer IV. That’s what our company is banking on. It’s our business plan.”

For more on the latest in data center management and operations, check out previous CapRE Insider Reports covering this panel:

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