Despite the importance of building robust, high-quality and highly effective data centers, one important phase of deployment often remains an enigma, even to those familiar with the industry: commissioning. Commissioning has been a part of the construction industry for decades, but the standards and processes involved are continuing to evolve as digital demands do the same. Misunderstandings and missed opportunities here can lead to lackluster results and less than ideal performance. These are two things that simply can’t be a part of the data center environment.
Nevertheless, companies looking to build a data framework (whether that means building their own data centers or otherwise) must understand this facet of the process and how the costs and results can influence their decision. To help organizations achieve the results they need, let’s take a more in-depth look at commissioning and the part it plays in today’s data center deployment.
What is Commissioning?
In essence, commissioning is a part of quality assurance, and it’s a process commonly used to check that a newly integrated process, system or facility addition meets the owner’s requirements and operational standards. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) states that commissioning centers around verifying and documenting that the facility, as well as its systems and assemblies, are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet the owner’s needs.
Commissioning processes check to make sure mission-critical equipment is installed and integrated properly, check for redundancy and points of failure and include system tests and verifications for successful operation. Critical for identifying potential problems and averting major disruptions down the line, commissioning can help all become more informed and prepared for maintaining and monitoring a data center. In fact, throughout the process, operations and maintenance manuals are developed to help the data center operations team run the facility.
All in all, if achieved successfully, commissioning can create cost optimization for lifetime facility upkeep, ensure more seamless and efficient project timelines and even establish a better base of knowledge for facility employees. Still, there is a flip side to this process that must be understood and accounted for.
The Challenges Commissioning Could Create
Since the commissioning process is so closely tied to the needs of the facility owner, the owner is responsible for ensuring the process happens successfully and that everything is checked against expectations. Unfortunately, this is also one of the many instances in data center builds where, if an organization is choosing to build their own data center, they likely won’t have the proper expertise or insight already on hand. Still, if not completed by a proper commissioning authority, they risk downtime, unexpected system repairs, and more—all of which is not ideal in the always-on, rapidly evolving digital era. So, this often adds fees, third parties, and other complexities including loss of time trying to fix any inadequacies the commissioning agent might find as problem areas.
When this dilemma is compounded by time being taken away from core strategic objectives and competencies, this one aspect of a data center build can tax businesses in unexpected ways while making the process even lengthier. Organizations nowadays have no time to waste, so remaining strategic in these ever-important data strategies is absolutely vital. For those that may want their time, resources and personnel to be dedicated to more core areas of the business, there is a less work-intensive alternative that still delivers the same levels of service excellence and operational success: data center colocation.
Choosing the right Data Center Colocation Partner
To offload the complexity that comes with commissioning (and the rest of the data center build, monitoring and maintenance processes, for that matter) colocation is a great option. Keeping ownership over hardware and IT equipment while housing it in a secure third-party facility allows the best of both worlds: all of the availability, safety and efficiency without the internal strain on teams or the need to seek out outside expertise.
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