Specialized White Space Construction: Maximizing Efficiency And Performance

A look at how partnering early on can help ensure projects are delivered on time and within budget

In today’s data-driven world, the demand for efficient and reliable data center capacity is soaring. Our use of technology in everyday activities is driving a data explosion, leading us to rely more heavily on digital infrastructure. This increased demand has resulted in the need for innovative solutions that optimize and accelerate data center design, delivery, and operation. One of those innovations has been the emergence of specialty contractors who focus on customization, or “fit-out,” of data center white space.

Back when the phrase “wholesale colocation” came into being, and long before anyone said the word “hyperscale,” specialized white space construction firms began to emerge with a game-changing approach to maximizing data center deployment efficiency. “White space” refers to the area within a data center dedicated to server racks, network equipment, and other critical IT infrastructure components. Firms that specialize in this phase of a data center’s deployment offer the ability to take total control of the design and implementation of highly tailored environments optimized for a specific end user. By sourcing the data hall interior implementation to a specialty contractor, data center developers have enjoyed the benefit of a distinct and unique team focused on some of the most critical aspects of the data center.

The general contractors who are tasked today with converting farmland into data centers are under intense pressure to deliver ready-to-use facilities in record time. Some new facilities are built-to-suit for specific cloud or colocation customers, while other data centers are leased after breaking ground. In either case, white space designs are evolving rapidly, which often leads to engineering changes, scope expansion, compressed schedules, increased overtime expenses, and costly change orders—all while the buildings are under construction. General contractors are often asked to change direction on the fly. The situation is not unlike the proverbial challenge of designing a plane while it’s in the air. Adding the burden of fitting out multiple customized data halls while keeping the base building completion schedule intact is quite a challenge.

At the same time this is happening, data centers are growing more massive in size with each new generation. At the dawn of the modern data center era, these facilities were sized for single-digit megawatts and tended to be much smaller physically. This set-up was pre-Facebook, TikTok, etc., and long before the emergence of the cloud and AI. With the demand for server space and power skyrocketing today, modern data centers have met the challenge with buildings that cover hundreds of thousands of square feet and accommodate millions of servers, storage devices, and network switches.

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