Data Center Commissioning BasicsData Center Commissioning - A load bank that gives a heat load for testing the cooling system in a data center. The load banks are also used to give the electrical system a load for testing the data centers electrical equipment and redundancy.

PDU’s or Power Distribution Units, switchgear, automatic transfer switches, static transfer switches, UPS, or universal power supplies along with banks of batteries, are all tested in conjunction with the load banks.

Data Center Commissioning - Underfloor Plenum

The perforated tile floor will go above the floor you see here. Under the tiles there is wiring including electrical and comm wiring plus this entire floor space under the tiles will carry cool air to the servers on top of the tiled flooring. The underfloor space is used as a plenum along with strategically placed perforated tiles designed to distribute the air in specific areas of the data center.

In some cases, the airflow will be distributed directly into the server rack or equipment that produces heat loads on the data center floor. Pressure sensors are located under the floor control CRAC or CRAH blowers to maintain a specific pressure setpoint based on various variables to deliver proper airflow to the data floor.

Data Center Commissioning | Load Banks and Mechanical/Electrical Loads

Data Center Perforated Tiles for Cooling ServersThe load banks are used for electrical testing and mechanical testing since the load banks provide both an electrical load and a heat load, therefore the load banks simulate the server electrical load and the server heat load long before the servers enter the data center.

Portable load banks simulate a heat load for the specific design of the data center based on the IT design load and the amount of cooling needed to satisfy the designed load.

Of course, loads in a data center can vary based on IT configurations, server load, and server placements. For the most part, while most centers are similar for the most part no two are exactly the same.

Testing of all the electrical, mechanical, and control systems is done to ensure the reliability and functionality of all the systems separately and functioning together as an integrated system. The load banks assist in the commissioning effort by providing a calculated load for both mechanical and electrical testing of the equipment.

Data Center Commissioning | PODs and Distribution of IT Equipment

Data Center Cooling Tower DisconnectsEvery data center has a design target for electrical and mechanical loads. Data floors are set up in pod configurations with a specific amount of IT equipment being placed in the cabinets of those pods. The definition of a POD is different depending on the type of data center.

Newer designs employ modular data centers with older data centers having a large room with several rows of cabinets that house servers and other electrical equipment such as Power Distribution Units (PDU’s) to power those servers, In a modular data center, a POD is approximately defined as 20 x 40 feet or the size of a shipping container. In a large room with rows of cabinets, a POD can be defined differently such as a few rows of cabinets.

This allows the designers to define a specific amount of infrastructure to satisfy the requirements for the density of the load. The design of the density will also factor in the tier level of the data center as various tier levels have different demands.

It all boils down to the cost of what the owner of the data centers specifies. That is based on need, tier level, and some other variable factors including the bottom line budget for completed construction costs. With data center commissioning, every aspect of the mechanical, electrical, and control systems is looked at under a microscope and tested.

From an individual piece of equipment to several pieces of equipment working together, to the operators of the equipment and operational procedures. Everything is documented including test procedures, functional testing, and integrated testing along with operational procedures for basic maintenance all the way up to emergency responses. Because many data centers have redundant systems, redundancy testing is done to ensure the backup systems work in the event they are needed.

Commissioning Tier Levels for Data Centers

Lastly, every data center is graded by the level of security they have and this grade is included in their overall reliability rating of the data center. This will be in the data centers tier level with tier 4 being the best. The backbone of a tier 4 data center (or any data center for that matter) is the redundancy of the mechanical and electrical systems. Redundancy reduces the possibility of catastrophic failure of the servers.

Commissioning a new data center is basically testing all the systems to ensure they meet the owner’s requirements and the basic guideline criteria for whatever design the data center is engineered for.

Note: There are some companies that define their own tier level that deviate from the standards.

For more about Data Center Commissioning click here.

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Data Center Commissioning