Critical spaces from scratch in a year – how Yondr does it

By: Rudy Van Der Merwe

A construction project like no other, designing, planning and building a data center is an intricate and extremely involved process. And as immensely valuable facilities they cost clients vast sums of money every day they’re delayed.

Here, there’s no such thing as being a single moment late. If a data center isn’t completed on time, it will be delayed for months or there will be serious consequences for other projects no amount of money can fix.

Feeling the heat? You’re right to. This is a carefully-orchestrated process with many moving parts. So how does Yondr create data centers in a year, with no delays? It’s all about Tetris and glue.

Data center construction is like Tetris

A data center contains specific spaces that house the intelligent network equipment – servers, routers, network switches, and so on.

Known as ‘critical spaces’ or ‘white spaces’ (the latter because the process traditionally starts with four white walls) they must be fitted out with the technical elements that make it a data center. Network equipment housed in network racks, connected through complex ICT infrastructure fed by a reliable power and cooling source, and kept safe with physical and network security.

These spaces house clients’ most valuable assets: the hardware that enables users to access data in the cloud or search the web.

Backed up in full, they have multiple redundancies and fail-safes. It’s almost impossible to lose power, for example. A given room will serve a specific function and there will be a backup room that does exactly the same.

Like Tetris, one critical room has to be in place at the right time before the next space can be completed. Network rooms have to be up and running before the data hall can be finished for example, and then meet me rooms need to be ready before you can complete the network rooms.

Turning up these critical spaces is incredibly specialist work. A client’s team of people will fly in to work on each space, and they will be booked up years in advance.

That means a delay will never affect just one data center. One missed deadline here means a missed deadline for another data center over there, cascading around the world like a costly game of Dominoes. Strict internal milestones rule the process. They must be hit if the facility is to be ready on time.

And when data center construction goes wrong, it’s not pretty. There’s a lot of bad press, senior people fly in and micromanage every step. There are financial penalties and the client is unlikely to work with that data center partner again.

This is how we get it right.

 

Yondr: the glue between clients and suppliers

Strong relationships are as valuable to us as a data center is to our clients. And that isn’t about simply saying yes. We’re candid friends who highlight issues, who approach and challenge, who ask questions and refine the design. Bleaching white the grey areas across all elements of the build.

We discuss the order in which space is needed, and the minimum requirements at every point.

We only start the next stage when everyone is happy with the construction drawings, and then we plan every step meticulously.

We look at lead times, minimise the risk of change, and react quickly when it does happen. We know from experience the value of making sure we’re getting all the information we need from the client at the right time, and we know what to ask for.

Then we take that information and communicate it clearly and effectively to the trades who are responsible for actually building the data center.

A different language

Both formidably skilled, clients’ and suppliers’ areas of expertise are clearly divided. Each has different skills, priorities, terminology and frameworks of thinking. The trades won’t know, for example, which racks are going to land first, what infrastructure needs to be ready when they do land, or the consequences if it’s not.

Yondr is the glue in the process, both up- and downstream. We’re the middleware between the two sides. We know how to communicate with all parties and make sure they’re on the same page.

Critical spaces from scratch in a year – with no delays

A few years ago, data center construction took two years as standard. Yondr is now comfortably and successfully doing it in one because we know how to build these relationships.

We’re trusted partners enabling a collaborative process. Involve us from day one and success is guaranteed.

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