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The 3 most important things for building a high-performance data center: design, design, design 

About the progress of DCValley

· blog

Soon we will break ground for DCValley NL1. The first enthusiastic clients and carriers have already committed and several conversations with interested potential customers are ongoing at this stage. The response we are getting from people in the valley-region, the Netherlands, globally as well as from industry peers is more than positive.

The idea of building a data center in the middle of the Netherlands, between Ede and Veenendaal, originated in 2016 with the initiators of DCValley. With this data center, we want to contribute to the economic strength of this already important and strong region. DCValley will also be an asset for the Netherlands (and beyond) as an interesting and centrally located premium data center. Last but not least, we are going to set up a facility where high-quality technology and services will be combined with optimal energy efficiency. And these were, are and will remain the core-values of DCValley.
After a period of in-depth research and due diligence, many discussions with stakeholders, (potential) customers, and after a period of setting up the DCValley organization, the critical moment has arrived where we will actually start with the physical construction of the data center facility itself.
Our plot on BTA12. The grass is patiently and quietly awaiting the things to come.

Complex buildings

It should come as no surprise that building data centers is not an easy task. Constructing an office or apartment building is already complex enough, but now we also have to add a large quantity of heavy-duty technical equipment, high-voltage installations, large generators, huge batteries, complex security mechanisms and other specific data center related topics. The Netherlands is, in fact, leading the way in the data center business and fortunately, we are lucky to work with extremely capable designers, contractors and other experienced specialists who have already dealt with most if not all of these topics before. But no matter how special and complex the construction itself is, it is always the pre-construction stage that makes or breaks the success of a data center: the design phase.

The best choices or the most expensive mistakes are made in the design phase

It is precisely this design phase that requires so much more time and effort, even more than in other building projects, as the design itself ultimately ensures that the construction, testing, and commissioning phases will run smoothly. If you start building too quickly, on the basis of a not sufficiently thought-out and sloppy design, there is a great chance of delays during construction, postponement of the completion and, the greatest fear of every data center professional, a poor operation and downtime. Finding out that 'something needs to be changed or fixed' during the testing and transfer phase (post-construction) can be a particularly costly and time-consuming issue for data centers. With quite far-reaching and much more negative consequences that would, for example, be the case for an office building.

On the one hand, it is commercially healthy and operationally logical that you want to start the actual construction as soon as possible. On the other hand, you want to be sure that the data center you build is commissioned on time and encounters no (costly) problems. A data center that actually does what it needs to do: providing data services without interruptions or problems, hence providing customers with maximum uptime and reliability. And all that starts with an intensive and thorough design phase.

From deafening silence to boisterous progress.

At a press conference on 22 March 2017, the initiators of DCValley announced that construction would still start this very year. In July 2017 I took office at DCValley and after various discussions with parties from the region and far beyond, I decided, among other things, that we should once again take a very critical look at the design and construction plans of DCValley. We had to look for further improvements in order to build it even more efficiently. And without deviating from the original objectives, we are now straight on course towards building an optimal and excellent data center.

At DCValley, we are quite lucky that we are not new to designing, building and managing high-quality data centers. Not new at all: we are combining years of experience in this industry in order to open an impressive facility next year. A data center that we can all be proud of and will perform in the way we have promised. However, we also realize that for the outside world, this utterly important design phase is also a very silent, low profile one. The work takes place in meeting rooms, behind computers, and on the drawing tables, in cooperation with various stakeholders such as partners, suppliers, governments and other parties. And while we are working very hard on precisely that one ultimate design that we will all be satisfied with, it is indeed kind of quiet on 'the grass'. But once we're really ready for the start, things will develop more than just fast. An old Dutch saying 'a good preparation is half the work' certainly applies here.

 

Vincent Wammes - Managing Director DCValley

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