Technology trends like big data and advanced communications continue to take the spotlight, and companies are emphasizing a need for data center solutions. Whether that means cloud computing, collocation or new data center construction, it’s something companies must explore on a case by case basis. Every situation has a different set of needs, so no two data center solutions are going to be exactly the same.
While some companies are shifting toward cloud or collaborative data storage strategies, others are focused on building data centers from the ground up. In fact, a leading research company reports the global construction market, including IT and healthcare data centers in the collocation, telecom and enterprise segments, will grow from $14.59 billion in 2014 to $22.73 billion by 2019. The biggest advantage of data center ownership by far is absolute control. This includes managing the entire planning, designing and building processes, and for some companies, that control remains a necessity.
Healthcare Data Centers The considerable amount of information generated by healthcare providers—including medical results, comprehensive health records, private communications, administrative data and research—needs to be stored in a place that’s not only secure but also reliable. As a result, some healthcare organization leaders are opting to build and manage their own data centers.
Hospitals are also seeking more advanced data storage options as a way to comply with recent changes in legislation. Under the Affordable Care Act, all healthcare providers must convert their medical records to an electronic format, making data center investment more attractive. Additionally, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act currently mandates revised security practices for medical recordkeeping, which also impacts the way healthcare data is stored.
Design Considerations Medical facility managers looking to build and operate a data center should consider a number of design factors beginning with location. While data centers can operate from almost anywhere, it’s ideal to choose an area that avoids high-traffic zones, like airports or highways, and protects against natural disasters and accidents, like floods or chemical spills. Other areas of consideration include:
• Reliable power • Infrastructure • Building materials • Access to water sources • Maintenance access • Future growth
The latest industry trends indicate system efficiency is the top priority when it comes to building data centers. Companies are applying energy-conscious design strategies to eliminate as much waste as possible. No detail is too small as building materials, storage components, heating options, use of space, maintenance needs, security, wire routing, cooling systems, piping and even lighting should be thoroughly considered.
Beyond the infrastructure’s elements, healthcare managers should emphasize power system development. Healthcare data centers require redundancy because power loss not only affects the information side, it can also affect the hospital staff’s ability to care for their patients. We’re not just talking about electricity needed to light surgery rooms or run life support machines. Access to information can be just as important for patient care, so it’s important that the power system is reliable.
To maintain data center sustainability, project managers should plan for future growth, which helps avoid additional building costs down the road and provides the necessary foundation for achieving the ultimate build-out. Additionally, service support plays a large role in managing and maintaining the data center system, especially as unexpected needs may arise. Choosing partners that bring value beyond the installation and testing phases can help you get the most from your system.
Additional Resources Caterpillar has long-standing relationships with the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) and 7x24 Exchange, which are dedicated to promoting innovative management strategies for the mission critical industry. Both ASHE and 7x24 Exchange are great resources for current information on healthcare and data centers.
You can see the entire design-build-maintain process unfold in a recent case study that follows CHI St. Alexius Health, a medical facility in Bismarck, North Dakota. The hospital overcomes efficiency concerns to support its new Technology and Education Center and onsite data center. For details on how the hospital staff achieved energy efficiency, improved reliability and reduced environmental impact, click here.
Tell us about your experience with data center management: • What factors did you consider when choosing a data center type for your operation? • What were the most important design features for your data center solution? • How did you achieve ultimate energy efficiency for your data center solution? • How can Caterpillar help improve you get more from your data center?