How Important Is Your Contractor’s Data Center Experience?

How Important Is Your Contractor’s Data Center Experience?

 Unlike your typical office environments, Data Centers are unique facilities. However, contractors and subcontractors are routinely placed inside critical environments with minimal or no prior data center experience. Inexperienced contractors elevate the potential of an accident by “human error”; a leading cause for loss of critical bus.

With the elevated potential for human error, Contractors should be vetted as well as the technicians performing the work.  The SOW (Scope of Work) for a given task should be identified prior to the commencement of the work. 
The SOW can be broken down into 3 basic categories;
1) construction
2) scheduled preventive maintenance 
3) emergency service. 


  1. Construction:  Typically construction is preplanned with a set of documents outlining the overall SOW and executed with an array of contractors.  The experience of the construction management and/or general contractor will determine a successful installation.  Yet with many construction managers, there may be limited working technical knowledge on the entire critical system.  Yes, the management can follow a set of construction drawings but don’t have a working knowledge of how the critical system work.  In other words, there is a deficiency in understanding the synergy of how all the various systems work together.

    data center construction

    Understanding a facilities synergy is crucial in instances such as deploying an A/B power system while ensuring that it won’t overload; how all the interlocking controls for means of disconnect and fire related shutdown are connected or even the basic relationship between hot/cold aisle containment and fire protection.

    This lack of understanding will become very apparent in the last 10% of the project when items are missed earlier and now surface at the end of the project.  This will lead to extended schedules and change orders.  An experienced contractor will identify those items early in the project that are omitted and/or not appropriately applied.  Once improperly installed systems are placed on line, they are very difficult to change and result in a legacy of ongoing expensive service repairs.

    Data Center Maintenance

  2. Scheduled Preventive Maintenance:  The main idea in performing “Preventive Maintenance” is to discover potential risk items requiring corrective action in addition to performing routine maintenance.  Otherwise it would be called “Maintenance” and not “Preventive Maintenance”.  The “Cost of Ownership” is reduced with proper “Preventive Maintenance” as the cost to repair an item of potential risk on a preplanned scheduled basis is much less than a repair due to a catastrophic failure. 

    Basically, proper data center equipment preventive maintenance requires a minimum number of man-hours labor time for a given machine.  Inadequate labor hours to perform a qualified maintenance will provide a lose-lose situation to the data center manager with high cost and repetitive failures with potential loss of critical bus.  Experienced data center contractors perform maintenance on a much higher level than standard office and comfort type contractors. 

    data center emergency service

  3. Emergency Service:  “Mean Time To Repair (MTTR)” is to be kept to a minimum and is defined by a very easy equation: Qualified Field Specialist with ability to quickly determine a fault PLUS parts availability EQUALS low MTTR.  Parts availability can be provided in several ways:  1) end user purchases spare parts and is kept as an in-house inventory.  The parts would be replaced when used by the maintenance contractor or 2) a qualified data center contractor will inventory spare parts deemed to have the most frequent need for replacement.  This inventory to a certain extent should be truck inventory to allow quick repair and this would include components such as condensate pumps, contactors, fuses, condenser fan motors/fan speed controllers, belts, high/low pressure cutout switches.  Compressors should be available at contractor’s warehouse. 

A true ”Data Center Contractor” will add value providing real benefits to the Data Center Manager.  Keystone Critical Systems & Advisors sole business focus is the information technology sector.  This continuous involvement inside the critical environment assures the Data Center Manager long term quality benefits within the three categories of Construction, Preventive Maintenance, and Emergency Service.   High quality initial construction installation, factory level preventive maintenance and low TTR emergency service is the ultimate solution to the lowest cost of ownership.