Data Center Design: Best Practices & Standards

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and experience teaching.

While data centers may hold a myriad of different information, the best practices and standards that guide their construction are all shockingly similar. We'll look at the characteristics that direct the construction of a data center.

Data Center Design

Let's face it, data center design is a relatively new field. Unlike something that has been around for a long time, like places of worship or train stations, or even sports stadiums, data centers are relatively new. It has only been the last few decades that the Internet has taken off, leading to a need for even more data centers.

With that rise of data center numbers, there has been an establishment of a number of best practices when it comes to data center design. Of these, special emphasis must be placed on security, utilities, and space. In this lesson, we will see how all three are being leveraged to make the best data centers possible.


Data center security is a vital consideration. Given the fact that millions, if not billions, of dollars of information is stored in a typical data center, that makes them very tempting targets. Much of the security concern must be at a digital level, but that does not mean that physical security doesn't factor in. For example, data centers should be nondescript. Chances are you've ridden past a data center and not even known it - look for buildings that don't have many windows, are set back from the road, and have plenty of cameras around. Razor wire is also a good giveaway.

Bio-metric security mechanisms are used when you get closer, such as fingerprints and retina scans. Once inside, access to the actual servers is only limited to those who have legitimate need to get close to them.


However, servers are not the sort of thing that can just be put in a cave and forgotten about. Instead, data centers have to have utilities. Power and network access are obviously important here - after all, many data centers require more than one hookup for both power and network connectivity, often from different sides of the building. That said, it is not enough to power the servers. Instead, they must be kept cool and clean as well. That means that an advanced HVAC system must be used, often with a redundant system in place in case something happens to the primary system. These systems are much easier to plan for in the blueprints of a data center, as opposed to when having already built the structure.

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