There’s an old saying in carpentry: “Measure twice, cut once.” The same principle of planning before execution applies to any endeavor, particularly one as important as data center planning. The data center is the nerve center of many businesses; with the growth of Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT), there is more focus on data centers than ever before. Mistakes or oversights in the planning and design phases of the data center life cycle can have disastrous consequences, including budget overruns, delays, lost time, and poor efficiency. Whether you are updating and retrofitting your existing facilities or creating an entire new site, here are some tips for effective data center planning.

1. Create a Detailed Master Plan

It’s important to take enough time at the data center planning and design stage to cover all aspects of the project. Equipment needs, power consumption, cooling capacity, zoning requirements for the building, cabling pathways, and cabinet layout are just some of the elements that need to be considered. Your IT and facility managers should work together to create a holistic view of your operations, since decisions made in one area will impact other parts of the system. Setting clear, overall goals and objectives will result in a solid foundation for your design.

2. Plan for Growth

One of the most important factors your master plan should accommodate is growth. Your data center should be able to grow along with your business. Data center planning should include not only immediate requirements but also projected future needs. This strategy can allow you to implement your design in phases to control costs. You’ll also save time by having later phases already mapped out. By anticipating and provisioning for future demands, you can avoid having your effectiveness become limited down the road.

3. Consider the Human Element

Data center planning must involve many physical and technological factors, such as requirements for power, cooling, and capacity. But you should also keep another factor in mind: the people who will be working and moving through your data center. Not only should you design your space for the most efficient flow of traffic, but you should also try to make the functions and processes of your data center clearly visible. Data center architect Michael Rane Downey recommends “using color and materials to highlight functional elements.” This strategy will make maintenance easier and more efficient for your IT staff, and it will help visiting executives and shareholders to understand how the data center operates. For example, Raritan offers a range of full-colored rack PDUs  that make the power chain easy to follow.

There are many aspects to consider in data center planning. Having a detailed road map that anticipates future developments and takes human factors, as well as technical ones, into account is the best approach for success.