C H A P T E R  1

Site Preparation

This chapter provides an overview of the site planning process. It also describes some of the services that are available from Sun to help you plan and monitor your data center. This chapter offers basic information about issues relating to the data center location, server configurations, and the route to the data center.

Topics in this chapter include:

Industry Guidelines for Site Planning

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has published guidelines for equipment manufacturers and data center designers to standardize on the following issues relating to a data center site:

These guidelines were developed by an industry consortium, of which Sun is a member. These guidelines are discussed in detail in the 2004 report "Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments," which was generated by the ASHRAE Technical Committee 9.9. For information about ASHRAE and the report, go to:


Site Planning Assistance From Sun

Sun takes a preemptive approach to maximizing server performance by providing services that can help you to properly evaluate your data center site, and install and configure your servers. With the appropriate SunSM Services agreement, you can choose the best services for your installation, which might include the following:

Sun Enterprise Installation Services

Using the Sun Enterprise Installation Services methodology, Sun technicians and engineers can help you to develop a stable data center site and equipment installations that provide the foundation for server reliability, availability, and serviceability. Sun Enterprise Installation Services are delivered in these phases:

For more information about Sun Enterprise Installation Services, go to:


Sun Environmental Services

To help you monitor, analyze, improve, and control environmental conditions in your data center, Sun provides Sun Environmental Services. By assessing your environment and finding potential causes of downtime, Sun can help you maintain the operating conditions in your data center so that your servers can perform optimally. Sun Environmental Services include the following:

For more information about Sun Environmental Services, go to:


Site Planning Considerations

Customer facility managers, system administrators, and Sun account managers need to discuss site planning, preparation, and server installation before delivery of the servers. A common understanding of environmental requirements and how the servers will be delivered, configured, installed, and maintained will help to create a suitable facility and successful installation of the servers and related equipment.

However, it is important to plan the data center as a whole and not based solely on shelf-level or cabinet-level calculations of server requirements. There are too many interdependencies in the data center that can make simple calculations unreliable. Designs and plans need to be made for the data center as a whole, and all of its equipment, with the recognition that implementing one change in the data center can affect many other physical, mechanical, and environmental aspects of the facility.

Factor in requirements of third-party equipment and support equipment in the room. Consider where dense computing locations might have high power and cooling demands that could affect power and environmental constraints. Consider rack positioning and airflow patterns. Ensure that the raised floor space, air conditioning, power supply equipment and generators, and related support equipment sufficiently meet the demands of all the servers and other mission-critical equipment.

Keep in mind that flexibility, redundancy, and expandability of the site can extend the life of the working environment.

Server Configurations

The first step in the installation process is to determine the hardware configuration for each server you plan to install. You can obtain advice about your server configuration from your Sun account manager or Sun authorized sales representative. You can obtain server documentation before receiving your server by downloading product information and manuals from the Web. See Related Documentation. Alternatively, you can consult the documentation provided with your servers for information about supported configurations.

In some facilities there will be many different configurations of the same server model; in others, multiple configurations of different server models. Each server should be accounted for separately because each server requires a specific amount of power and a specific amount of cooling. Future server upgrades and other modifications will be easier if you keep a written record of each server's configuration.

Planning for Maximum Server Configurations

It might be prudent to plan your facility using data for maximally configured servers. There are several ways in which maximum server configuration data is useful.

Facility managers can use this data to quickly calculate the most demanding set of conditions for weight, power, and air conditioning load. This data is helpful for planning purposes early in a facility construction cycle.

Many customers buy servers configured for present needs but realize that future demands will require server upgrades. Since the specifics of such upgrades are often difficult to predict, some customers elect to make facility planning decisions based on maximum configuration data from the start. One benefit of this approach is that it minimizes subsequent facility disruptions that might be needed to accommodate upgraded or new servers.

Maximum configuration data also can help you when you select and lay out racks and cabinets. For example, racks planned for high-density servers can be distributed throughout the data center and laid out in hot-aisle/cold-aisle rows to minimize hot spots.

Maximum configuration data can help you determine how to route electrical circuits and plan for power, cooling, and other equipment needed to support a full-capacity data center. In addition, maximum configuration data can help you plan for auxiliary power or backup power, and plan for power grid independence if continued uptime is required.

Planning for Actual Server Configurations

Some experts estimate that only half or less of the power, cooling, and other support equipment is used in the data center when servers are originally installed. In addition, experts report that electrical and mechanical equipment can account for nearly two thirds of the initial capital costs of the facility. This results in high up front design and construction costs for electrical and mechanical equipment, and ongoing operating and maintenance costs that are higher than actually needed to support the installed servers. (For in-depth discussion of these topics, see "Data Center Power Requirements: Measurements From Silicon Valley," J. D. Mitchell-Jackson, J. G. Koomey, B. Nordman, M. Blazek, Energy-The International Journal, Vol. 28, No. 8, June 2003, p. 837-850; "Design Guidelines for a High Density Data Center," R. Hughes, The Data Center Journal, Dec. 14, 2003.)

Therefore, some data center designers prefer to build the facility in a way that maximizes expandability and flexibility. Designers estimate initial infrastructure requirements using the actual power, cooling, and environmental specifications that the servers incur when installed. This provides the minimum requirements that the data center must meet. As servers are upgraded or added, power, cooling, and other infrastructure equipment is installed in a modular architecture that supports scalable growth without interruption of data center functions. It is important to design the data center so that it can accommodate infrastructure upgrades without adversely affecting the continuous operation of the installed servers.

When building the data center, the costs of sizing the site for maximally configured servers must be weighed against the costs of sizing the site for actual resources used and adding infrastructure equipment as needed.

Using Server Configuration Data

The site planning product specifications lists different power requirements for different configurations of the server. How you configure your server will have variance between the provided values. If a site planning product specification is not available for your server, the specifications provided in your server documentation can help support installation.

Do not use the servers' nameplate power ratings when calculating existing power consumption and heat load. Nameplate ratings indicate the servers' hardware limits for maximum power draw that the servers can support. Nameplate ratings note higher levels of power consumption than servers require at installation. The additional power capacity is available for server upgrades. Nameplate power ratings are useful if you add components that significantly affect power demands.

Instead, for current data center planning, rely on measured server configuration data, which you can obtain from the site planning product specifications for your server, your Sun account manager, or your Sun authorized sales representative.

Data Center Location and Design

Whether a dedicated facility or part of a multipurpose building, the location and design of the data center need special consideration. When determining the location and design of the data center, consider the following issues:

See the related sections in this guide for further descriptions of these criteria.

Route to the Data Center

Ideally, the data center and loading dock should be located in close proximity. The access allowances for the path from the loading dock to the data center include:

Most cabinets and racks ship in their own containers on a pallet. Make sure that the facility loading dock and unloading equipment can accommodate the height and weight of the cabinets, racks, and servers while in their shipping packages. The site planning product specifications provides these dimensions for your server. See TABLE 5-1 for shipping specifications for three Sun cabinets.

Inspect all shipping cartons for evidence of physical damage. If a shipping carton is damaged, request that the carrier's agent be present when you open the carton. Save the original shipping containers and packing materials in case you need to store or ship the server.

When you plan your route to the data center, make sure that the boxed cabinets, racks, and servers can fit through doors and hallways, and on elevators. Also make sure that the route floor and elevators can support the weight of the cabinets, racks, and servers. The route to the data center should have minimal ramps, minimal sharp angles, few bumps, and no stairs.

Provide a room that is separate from the data center in which to open equipment cartons and to repack hardware when you install or deinstall the servers. Do not unpack the servers or racks in the data center. Dirt and dust from the packing materials can contaminate the data center environment. See Acclimatization for further information about moving the servers into the data center.