AFCOM Establishes Industry Standards For Data Center Size and Density

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White Paper From Data Center Institute and Strategic Directions Creates Common Industry Framework

“The standards proposed by AFCOM introduce a common language that enable facilities and IT professionals around the globe to make strategic decisions about their datacenter assets.”

AFCOM, the premier association for the data center industry, announced today the availability of their latest standards document: Data Center Size and Density, a white paper that seeks to establish a common set of standards for data center size and density. Under the guidance of AFCOM’s Data Center Institute board of directors, industry consultancy The Strategic Directions Group was commissioned to develop a standard set of facility size and density ratings to inform the development of regulatory obligations, such as building energy efficiency reporting, at the state, regional and local levels.

“What we have heard from our members and other industry leaders is that there is a lot of confusion in the industry over something as simple as data center size and density,” said Tom Roberts, president of AFCOM “The DCI board set out to help standardize terminology and set a common language for size and density to build a greater understanding of issues across different industries, businesses and countries.”

“Hyper-scale compute architectures and software-defined computing technologies have made the traditional way we’ve thought about datacenter capacity obsolete,” said Jennifer Koppy, analyst with IDC. “The standards proposed by AFCOM introduce a common language that enable facilities and IT professionals around the globe to make strategic decisions about their datacenter assets.”

Why are standards needed?
Globally, countries apply different regulatory reporting obligations on data centers, particularly around efficiency and energy use, so it is vital that a common framework, language and set of definitions forms the basis of industry reporting, surveys, analysis and reviews.

  •     Is Size determined by capacity (kW), utility supply, number of racks, area of the building or the Compute Space (white space)?
  •     Is Density determined by the building capacity (kW), utility supply, load of the IT equipment in the Technical Area or the maximum capacity of the facility once fully loaded with equipment?

This white paper, Data Center Size and Density Standards sets the facility size metric solely on “Compute Space”, and the density metric on “Measured Peak kW load”. The intent is to help the IT and data center industry apply a common terminology for consistency, and help bridge the gap between business, applications and platforms.

“What we learned while developing this white paper is that it is difficult to compare and apply a common understanding across the global data center industry without standard definitions,” said Mike Andrea, of The Strategic Directions Group and a DCI board member. “We felt it important to put the effort in – as a vendor-neutral global consultancy - to formalize the terminology and help set a common framework for the data center industry.”

Definitions presented in this white paper were originally vetted in 2013 during the Data Center World Orlando Closing session to take initial feedback from the market. The Data Center Institute further refined direction while working with Strategic Directions on several drafts. Drafts were then again submitted for review to several international groups of data center professionals for additional input. With this final series of recommended definitions, the Board will open again a period of final vetting between September 30 and October 22 to determine any final tweaking or modifications needed upon which time the Data Center Institute will conclude the vetting process.

The Data Center Standards white paper is now available for download on Comments on the white paper should be submitted in writing to Tom Roberts, Data Center Institute Chairman, at before October 22, 2014.

About the Data Center Institute
Formed in 2001, AFCOM’s Data Center Institute is a prestigious “think tank” comprised of experienced data center managers, industry leaders and solution providers who examine issues and trends affecting data center operations. The group’s charter is to provide thought leadership and direction for the industry about data center related matters.

The DCI Board includes Tom Roberts, Chairman, AFCOM; Tad Davies, Bick Group; Donna Manley, IT Senior Director, University of Pennsylvania; Rick Sawyer, Worldwide Practice Leader, Critical Facilities Assurance, HP; Tim Hazzard, President, Methode; Mike Andrea, Director, The Strategic Directions Group; Hector Diaz, Regional Director, CBRE; Jack Story, Account Chief Technologist, Office of the CTO, HP; John Parker, Data Center Operations Management, ESRI.

AFCOM ( advances data center professionals by delivering comprehensive and vendor-neutral education and peer-to-peer networking to its members around the globe. Through forward-looking research by Data Center Institute, publications including Data Center Management Magazine, local chapters, regional symposiums, and major events like Data Center World, AFCOM supports thousands of data center professionals in their career advancement. In serving the greater data center industry for more than 30 years, AFCOM has earned recognition as the market leader in connecting the data center community.

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Deborah Porchivina
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