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Data Center Networks - Integrating IT & Facilities

Data Center Networks not only consist of the network connecting the servers and storage disk arrays with the outside world, but typically also include several discrete IT and facility system networks. Often the installation of these discrete IT and facility networks are planned, designed, installed and managed by individual silos of responsibility resulting in a lack of coordination and a common set of guidelines, standards or management.

The networks can be categorized into three main systems:

  • Data Center LAN/SAN/WAN – the core network supporting all compute processing systems (server, Mainframe, HPC, etc.) and storage systems (SAN, NAS).

  • Building LAN – IP network supporting all desktop computers & telephony devices located throughout the facility.

  • Facility Building Management Systems – all facility related networks supporting critical environmental, power and building management systems.

Although these main network categories are discrete in their topology, they do interface to provide key management functionality for data center facility managers, computer operators and network administrators. It is important that these networks are planned and designed in a coordinated effort to ensure:

  • It is clearly understood which staffing roles require access to each network

  • Who is responsible to manage each network

  • Who is responsible to manage the interfaces between the networks and what levels of security is required at each network interface

  • Do these networks need to adhere to a common hardware platform or operating system, and if not who manages the decisions regarding which hardware platforms and operating systems are acceptable

  • Who is responsible to plan, design and install the network:

  • Architecture

  • Topology

  • Security

  • Fiber Optic and Copper Cabling

  • Pathways

  • Devices (end points)

  • Controller / Head-end Systems

The methodology we use when establishing the data center network requirements incorporates a coordinated design between all these discrete networks elements, which provides owners the following value:

  • Implementation cost savings by eliminating replication in scope of work between electrical contractor, low voltage contractor and systems integrator.

  • Clearly defined external vendor responsibilities and expectations.

  • Clear definition of who, within internal staff, is responsible for the management of each discrete network.

  • Use of common standards and installation policies and procedures for the active electronics, cabling network and pathways.

  • Corporate network standards can be clearly defined and followed.

A great starting point is to create a matrix identifying each discrete network, each network sub-system, and who is responsible for each network sub-system. A simple example is shown below.


CC - Controls Contractor

EC - Electrical Contractor

LV - Low Voltage Cabling Contractor

SC - Physical Security Contractor

SI - Systems Integrator

Phil is the President of Isaak Technologies, an independent consulting and training firm that focuses on helping organizations succeed in efficiently delivering data center services with high availability and risk mitigation.  We take the guess work out of current and future data center services; public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, or enterprise data center services.  Isaak Technologies delivers clear solutions to complex problems using best practice forecasting, strategy and risk mitigation.

Read more about Phil Isaak or Isaak Technologies.

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