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Data Center Commissioning is a Big Deal

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In case you missed the press release, Peak 10’s newest data center in the Tampa, Florida market is currently undergoing commissioning by an independent quality assurance and engineering team.

“Big deal,” you may be thinking. But if you’re in the market for data center services, the commissioning of a data center that you are considering for colocation, managed hosting, disaster recovery, cloud or other services is a very big deal.

The Need for Commissioning

Commissioning is a rigorous, quality assurance process in which a facility — in this case, a data center — is thoroughly tested to ensure that its design, equipment interoperability, and system redundancy meet the specifications and expectations set by the owner.

When you contract for data center services, you expect a certain level of security and availability for power, cooling, and connectivity to ensure the performance of your IT assets as well as reliable, uninterrupted access to them. Data center owners want to deliver on your expectations and design their facilities to enable them to do so.

You would expect that a facility would work the way it was designed to work but consider that a data center is actually a very complex machine. When a data center is built, it includes a variety of components — CRAC/CRAH units, fire detection and suppression equipment, UPSs etc. — from various vendors. Each vendor will tout the performance of its own equipment, but none will promise that all the equipment together will perform properly. Things can get even more complicated in data center expansions and upgrades in which newer models of equipment are installed next to older models.

That’s where data center commissioning comes in. The process enables Peak 10 to review and test a new facility’s physical infrastructure design as a holistic system in order to assure it operates at the highest level of reliability.

Holistic Testing

Commissioning ensures that all mission-critical equipment is properly installed, and the systems are fully integrated. The process checks for redundancy and single points of failure and verifies that any efficiency features built into the system function as intended.

“Commissioning allows us to independently test and verify every design element, every device, and make sure that the system is 100% ready for our customers,” explains David Kidd, vice president of governance, risk, and compliance at Peak 10.

“We plan for every situation our data center will face in its lifetime and condense that down to a few short weeks. It is an intense test of every piece of equipment, every system and every process for operating a secure, highly available data center.”

Unfortunately, the process doesn’t come cheap. That’s why some data center owners choose to perform little or no commissioning. It’s a big gamble to take when their customers’ mission-critical IT assets are on the line, particularly when there is zero tolerance for unplanned downtime that can generate staggering financial and reputational costs.

Quality Assurance

Peak 10 is among the companies that make data center commissioning an integral part of its quality assurance operations. All Peak 10 data centers are fully commissioned prior to opening, and the company takes commissioning through all of the five testing levels associated with mission-critical facilities. That includes Level 5 testing, in which all systems are operated at full load to ensure that all components work together as required and that all systems operate as intended in all possible failure scenarios.

“We bring in an independent team of engineers to do the evaluation and testing, review submittals and validate everything,” explains Mr. Kidd. “It’s not enough to just look at the systems and ensure they meet all the specifications in a design submittal. We want the data center independently evaluated as an integrated system and put through all its paces fully loaded, just as it would be when it’s fully occupied by customers.

“We are committed to providing highly secure, highly available infrastructure for our clients. The commissioning process ensures that any new data center we open will honor that commitment.”

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About Peak 10

"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest