Data Center Physical Infrastructure – Overview

Source: Energy University: Schneider Electric

Data Center Physical Infrastructure consists of the seven elements

  1. ⚡Power
  2. ❄️Cooling
  3. 🗄️Racks and Physical Structure
  4. 🛡️Security and 🔥Fire Protection
  5. 🔌Cabling
  6. 👨🏻‍💼Management
  7. 🛎️Services

There are 3 keys components to Data Center physical infrastructure

  1. Information Technology which consist of data processing, data storage and communications, both hardware and software
  2. Process which need to be defined and documented and standardized.
  3. People who have the right levels of skills and training with adequate manpower.

Some of the challenges face by Data Center today includes

  • Rapid changes in IT Technology
  • High density blade servers power consumption and head dissipation.
  • High operating and service cost
  • Regulatory requirements from Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Building and Construction Authority(BCA),etc
  • Server consolidation
  • Increasing availability expectations.
  1. Power


  • Lifecycle Costs
  • Adaptability/ Scalability
  • Availability
  • Manageability
  • Maintenance / Serviceability

💡 Solutions:

Integration of Power subsystem components towards pre-engineered, pre-manufactured solutions. Such solutions should be

  • Modular
  • Standardized
  • Expandable


Cooling systems that are required to remove heat from data center are

  • Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRAC)
  • Associated subsystems components linked to CRAC
    • Chillers
    • Cooling Towers
    • Condensers
    • Duct works
    • Pumps
    • Pipe works
    • Rack-level distribution devices

Cooling Challenges

  • Lifecycle Costs
  • Adaptability/ Scalability
  • Availability
  • Manageability
  • Maintenance / Serviceability

Cooling Solutions

Move away from unique system design towards more open system design

Direct water cool system for high density racks above 10kw or large group of racks above 6kW

3. 🗄️Racks and Physical Structure

    The most critical physical elements are

  • IT racks, which contains the IT equipment such as servers, switches, routers, computer, etc
  • Physical room elements such as False ceiling and Raised Floor Systems

Electronic Industries Alliance EIA 310 is a common standard used for 19 inch rack mounting telecommunications and IT equipment.

Rack and Physical Structure Challenges

  • Lifecycle Costs
  • Adaptability/ Scalability
  • Availability
  • Manageability
  • Maintenance / Serviceability

Rack and Physical Structure Solutons

  • Be adaptable to changing requirements
  • Improve availability and cost effectiveness.

4. 🛡️Security and 🔥Fire Protection Systems

Security and Fire protection systems are required to protect the integrity, safety and availability of the Data Center.

Physical Security DevicesFire Detection and Suppression
Biometric devicesSmoke Detector
KeysClean Agent(Gas) Fire Suppression systems eg. FM200, Novec 1230
CodesHeat Detector

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) NAFA 75- standard for the protection of electronic computer and data processing equipment. In the 2003 edition of NFPA 75 ( allows data centers to continue to power the electronic equipment upon activation of gaseous agent total flooding system,provided the data center has the following risk considerations:

  • economic loss from loss of function or loss of records
  • economic loss from value of equipment
  • life safety aspects of  function
  • fire threat of the installation to occupants of exposed property


 Cabling make up a significant portion of the IT budget, thus in order to avoid unnecessary wastage is through Proper Design and selection of Core Components.

Proper usage of Cable Tray and management system devices will help to reduce downtime due to human errors and overheating.

Data Cable best practice are

  1. Overhead deployment
  2. Underfloor deployment  (Raised Floor System)
  3. Rack Installation
  4. Cable Testing ( IT Manager can request for data cable test report)

Electrical Cable Installation (Singapore Standard SS 638 : 2018 or CP5)

  1. Follow Code of Practice for Electrical Installation (Singapore Standard SS 638 : 2018 or previously known as CP5)
  2. Do not exceed the manufacturers bending radius recommendation. Usually more than 6D (cable outside diameter, D) to 8D.
  3. Continuous Load- any load which is  left on more than 3hours
  4. De-rate electric current amperages (A) and wire size by 20%
  5. De-rating approach helps avoid overheated wires, short circuit and fire
  6. If the copper in the wire is insufficient for the electric current amperages requires, the insulation will melt.


Management is an element that encompass all other elements and having visibility to all the components of the physical infrastructure.

Management include the following

  1. Building Management System (BMS)
  2. Network Management Systems (NMS)
  3. Element Managers
  4. Other monitoring hardware and software.

Management include

  1. Maintain System Availability
  2. Managing problems
  3. Managing changes

Essentials Category of Data Center Managements include

  1. Incident Management
  2. Change Management
  3. Capacity Management
  4. Availability Management

A holistic Data Center Management solution should be integrated with open IT systems in order

  1. Manage rapid change
  2. Achieve demanded levels of availability
  3. Control Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO)


There is a broad range of services required to support the Data Center Systems

  1. Consulting and Design Services
  2. Installation Services
  3. Maintenance and Repair Services
  4. Monitoring Services
  5. Decommissioning Services

Data Center availability success is highly dependent on the supporting services.

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