I have been kicking around the idea of building a datacenter for my quickly growing business that offers a variety of specialized hosting types.
Anyway, we are headquarted in a relatively small city in the United States. There are not any datacenters in my area (the closest one is 2 hours away). We were thinking about leasing a building or office space in the area and housing servers in there. Now I have visited a number of data centers across the nation and have an idea of what type of security, power, networking, and cooling infrastructures are needed. I am estimating that we would have less than 4 42U cabinets in it total. (yes very small).
What type of internet connectivity would we need? Who would we get it from? How much should we get? How much will it cost/month?
What type of power backups are needed to sustain the uptime of the DC?
Now the cooling systems seem to be one of the biggest things in a DC. What would i have to do to keep the hardware cool and operating at a safe temperature? I know about hot aisles and cool aisles but what other precautions can i take?
As for the total project, what is a good expectation for a budget? It would be a small data center in an office building (there would be no windows in the datacenter).
If you search around on the forums you will see tons of threads on similar topics. Usual census is its not worth it.
In your case for a DC that small, you will have lots of costs that will pretty much apply if you have 4 racks or 8 racks, economies of scale play a part.
If you are in a small town you will probably have limited bandwidth options. No one here is going to know how much bandwidth you need, only you can come up with that. If your running streaming video you will obviously need more than running a few websites. If you need a large amount of bandwidth, it may be a problem. You can easily pay a price for 10mbit in a small city, that you could get a gig circuit in a on-net DC in a bigger city.
I'm going to give you a small example on just how much engineering work you would need to have completed in order to accomplish what you're looking to do.
Just to begin to calculate the amount of cooling you'll need to have some answers to some very basic questions;
What type of Building Construction do you have?
What is the R-Factor of the walls ceilings and floors?
How many servers will be housed and how much does each contribute to the Heat Gain?
How much heat does your UPS, lighting, people, office equipment, etc etc contribute to the total Heat Gain?
How much outside air needs to be brought in for proper ventilation?
Then after you gather all the necessary information to calculate what the building heat loads will be you can size your equipment, calculate the amount of power needed and see if you can physically fit the equipment, duct-work and appurtenances in the space. Then you'll need to design the control systems that will operate your DC Cooling systems. Depending on the size of the space the mechanical engineering alone could easily take weeks or even months.
What I've said here is about the same as trying to tell someone how to build their own home in a paragraph or two. There is so much missing you can't even really get an idea of the magnitude of the project. The best advice is to talk to someone that has successfully done what you're trying to do and see if they are willing to provide you with a bit of insight on what it takes to accomplish such a project...
Oh boy, I think cooldude may have hit it on the head. It's probably not worth it.
The internet connections alone may kill the project. Its really hard to say what you would need in the way of internet connection when you dont say what the 4 racks of machines will be doing. If they will all be serving up video the needs could be huge if they are all just blogs and the like you may not need much.
Further, if you are in a small town 2 hours from data center you may be a very long way from any decent internet providers. This may even involve laying miles of fiber on your own dime. We have a small data center with 3x1Gig feeds and the internet setup was probably 1/4 of a million + a monthly free to three providers for all the bandwidth. We are fortunate in that we are in the heart of Silicon Valley but still needed to install 2 redundant fiber paths (each just over a mile long.). On top of this you have all the building and construction costs.
I'm not saying don't do it, just think long and hard and do all the numbers before you commit.
IMHO, I think you have the right idea but perhaps the wrong approach. When Bezos started Amazon, he started with a white sheet of paper and started asking questions:
- What's the best locating for distributing books?
- Where can I find cheap, talented people?
Most hosting firms don't need 1) all the bells and whistles of a typical colo, because their clients don't visit the DC, and 2) the site can be located and managed remotely, giving you flexibility to seek a cheap location and cheap bandwidth.
Lastly, it is FAR cheaper to procure a site than to build one. There are MANY sites that you can step into and take over that have been made redundant from the downturn. Buying cheap is how nearly every major colo company has either entered or grown their business, including major brands like Telx, ViaWest, Digital Realty, and Equinix. We ourselves have placed over 150,000 sq-ft of data center users at around $1/sq-ft. If you do the work, there many great opportunities out there.
If the above doesn't work for you, building can still be cheaper, and more lucrative in the long-term, but you have to know what you are doing, and it's easy to make mistakes...witness the challenges Twitter has had with their UT deployment. Choose your advisors wisely.