With the proliferation of high speed networks and information exchange, the data center market is on the crest of a wave. If a recent report is to be believed, the data center infrastructure market is expected to surpass $90bn in the next six years with new technology driving demand.
T5: An introduction
In addition to delivering first class data center facilities as a landlord, T5 Data Centers has become a proven expert in building data center facilities via its construction division T5 Construction Services, LLC (T5CS).
T5CS excels at various service offerings: Turnkey data hall projects; data center upgrade/expansion projects; equipment procurement; and project management and consulting. T5CS’ expertise allows them to execute with regards to design, equipment procurement, construction, start-up and commissioning, security implementation, successful integration, and turnover to the facility management team.
Put simply, building and operating data centers is T5’s core competency. T5’s ability to perform projects in a turnkey manner allows their clients to focus on their core businesses. “We view ourselves as an extension of our client’s staff. We understand what its like to be an owner/end user, because we are one. As a landlord, we tailor our design to meet the needs of our client. We take the same focus when our construction service group performs turnkey construction projects. Our goal is to customize the right solution for our clients,” says Robbie Sovie, Senior Vice President, Development, for T5 Construction Services
The message from T5 to its clients – many of which are Fortune 500 companies – is a simple but effective one: “Let us build the data center you’d like to build yourself”. To deliver on such a personal pitch requires extremely close collaboration between client and contractor. “A lot of companies will say they want to become partners to their clients but T5 truly means it,” says Sovie. “We sit across the table from our clients and look them in the eye to understand exactly what it is they want, and then we strive to achieve that. We challenge our team to build those relationships because they result in the best projects. One team, one dream, let’s make it happen – that’s the approach.”
Similarly, T5 values its relationships with equipment vendors. T5’s vendors are critical to its success. “As owners we purchase equipment in scale,” says Sovie, “so we have purchasing power. We’ve developed healthy relationships with a group of vendors who have proven their ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat for us when we need them to. When you can call some of the big players and say ‘we need a generator in three months’ and they figure out a way to make that happen, it’s huge.”
How T5 operates
T5CS thrives because its foundation is strong. T5CS’s ability to execute on five core principles is key to its success:
SAFETY: Adherence and execution of strict safety process and procedures is one of T5’s core focus points. Maintaining a positive safety record is critical to T5CS, which has a Zero Accident Objective across all our projects.
PROCESS & PROCEDURE: Details, details, details… executing on the process and procedures is not just busy work for T5CS. The company understands that being detailed and diligent with process and procedures is critical to success. Its processes and procedures are utilized at every level of projects: design, preconstruction and bid levelling, construction delivery, start-up and commissioning delivery, security integration, completion and closeout, etc.
COMMUNICATION & COLLABORATION: Effective communication and collaboration is critical to a successful project. “We want our clients to enjoy the construction experience,” adds Sovie. As an example, T5CS uses a CFD analysis (Computational Fluid Dynamics) to analyse IT loads within a data hall. T5CS collaborates with clients on the most optimal data hall design based on what the CFD analysis presents. “The CFD model is important when clients are trying to maximise their output in terms of killowatts. It shows us where we need to contain temperatures via containment, chimney, or other design measures,” says Sovie.
As part of its service offering, T5CS is adept at data center upgrade programs and expansion projects, where it has to undertake mission critical work in the ‘live’ environment. Once again, collaboration is crucially important, says Sovie: “I think our track record with working on live projects is a major reason why clients come to us. That's more the reason they use us. You simply have to collaborate with the facility group, so that you’re going through maintenance procedures step-by-step; you've got to do 'A' before you do 'B' to get to 'C’, so we stick rigidly to that. Added to that, it’s a question of the correct competences and skills for the job, and our team has that.”
BUDGET ADHEARENCE: Focusing on the project budget is critical to T5CS because its critical to our client. As an owner and end user, T5 understands what it means to manage a budget from a client’s perspective. “We manage the client’s budget as we would manage our own budget,” Sovie says.
SCHEDULE ADHERANCE: Just like the budget, schedule is important for various reasons. “We understand that ‘live production’ dates can be the difference in success vs. failure for our Clients,” Sovies explains. “We manage the clients schedule expectations and is if were our own schedule.”
As somebody working at the epicentre of the data center space, Sovie says he is “unsurprised” by the prediction that the value of the market will surpass $90bn by 2024, pointing out that just around half of the world’s population have internet access.
“There are billions of people who at some stage will get that access, so when you take that into consideration alongside ever evolving technology, whether that be IoT or AI, it’s going to drive a lot of further capacity. You have to also consider that some of the older generation are not too tech-savvy, which is not going to be the case with generations to come. It's just kind of natural evolution so unless servers get way more efficient that demand for data center space is just going to increase.”
As is, you’d expect, the demand for proven experts in the data centre construction field.
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