Data Center Projects: Commissioning

By Paul Marcoux
When building a new data center, the owner of the data center has no guarantee that the various physical infrastructure subsystems – power, cooling, fire suppression, security, and management – will work together. Commissioning is the process that reviews and tests the data center’s physical infrastructure design as a holistic system in order to assure the highest level of reliability.

Traditional commissioning is a daunting task. Since formal system operation doesn’t begin until the system is commissioned, the commissioning team experiences intense pressure to complete the commissioning process quickly. Commissioning can involve high expense and requires staffs from different departmental disciplines to work together. For these reasons data center commissioning has almost uniquely been associated with large data centers (over 20,000 ft2 or 1,858 m2). In the recent past, many data center managers chose to roll the dice and perform little or no commissioning, relying only on start-up data to press ahead with launching the new data center. Given the reality of 24x7 operations, however, the alternative of exposure to major system failures and accompanying downtime is no longer an economically viable option. Commissioning has now become a business necessity.