The Top 9 Mistakes in Data Center Planning

Posted by on April 3, 2012

White Paper 145

How can you avoid making major mistakes when entering the build and expansion world?

The key lies in the methodology you use to design and build your data center facilities. All too often, companies base their plans on watts per square foot, cost to build per square foot, and tier level—criteria that may be misaligned with their overall business goals and risk profile. Poor planning leads to poor use of valuable capital and can increase operational expense.

Many organizations get overwhelmed, focusing on “speeds and feeds,” green initiatives, concurrent maintainability, power usage effectiveness (PUE) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. All of these criteria are critical in the decision making process. However, the details often overshadow the big picture. Most companies miss the business opportunity in a data center expansion—an expansion driven by a holistic approach.

While there are numerous consultants in the field to help you find your way, assessing ideas and input can be overwhelming. Organizations with critical capacity requirements in the 1-3 megawatt range may fall into this risk category. The critical nature of mid-size users is no less important than mega users; however internal technical expertise to drive proper expansion plans may be limited. The result is information overload from multiple sources, leading to confusion and poor decision making.

“The Top 9 Mistakes in Data Center Planning” Full White Paper 145 (Click Here)

Executive Summary:

Why do so many data center builds and expansions fail? This white paper answers the question by revealing the top 9 mistakes organizations make when designing and building new data center space, and examines an effective way to achieve success through the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) approach.


  • Big mistake 1:  Failure to take TCO into account
  • Big mistake 2:  Poor cost-to-build
  • Big mistake 3:  Improper design criteria
  • Big mistake 4:  Site selection before design criteria
  • Big mistake 5:  Space planning before design criteria
  • Big mistake 6:  Designing into dead-end
  • Big mistake 7:  Misunderstanding PUE
  • Big mistake 8:  Misunderstanding LEED certification
  • Big mistake 9:  Overcomplicated designs


Although many data center builds and expansions result in failure, yours doesn’t have to. By avoiding the top 9 mistakes outlined in this paper, you will be well on your way to achieving success. In summary:

  • Start with a Total Cost of Ownership approach:
    • Evaluate your risk profile against your business expense profile.
    • Create a model that incorporates CapEx, OpEx and energy costs
  • Determine your design criteria and performance characteristics
    • Base this criteria on your risk profile and business goals
    • Allow those criteria to truly determine the design, including tier level, location and space plan—not the other way around
  • Design with simplicity and flexibility
    • Use a design that will meet your uptime requirements, but will also keep costs low during construction and throughout operation—simplicity is key.
    • Accommodate unplanned expansion by incorporating flexibility into the design
  • If PUE and LEED are part of your criteria, become educated on the common misunderstandings and expenses associated with each.

Through proper planning using the TCO approach, you can create a data center facility that meets your organization’s performance goals and business needs today and tomorrow.

White Paper #145 Written By:

Mike M. Hagan

John Lusky

Tuan Hoang, P.E.

Scott Walsh, P.E., LEED A.P.

Find out how Universal Networking Services brings a comprehensive solution from the utility pole to the server and assists with navigating the complex waters of most size and scope of projects. Whether you are upgrading, retrofitting or developing a new design-build, UNS and its partners generate efficient, scalable, reliable and manageable critical infrastructure solutions to your organization. Our holistic, common sense approach lowers our clients Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and maximizes efficiencies offered by the advancements in critical power and cooling infrastructure.

Please feel free to contact us to learn more.

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  1. […] vital component if you are looking to achieve operational sustainability. White Paper 145, The Top 9 Mistakes in Data Center Planning, discusses the nine top mistakes businesses make when building or expanding their data centers. Now […]