Ahead of the upcoming marcus evans 2nd Data Center Design & Construction (DCDC) conference, show managers spoke with Aaron Hesse, global inside plant design engineer at Amazon Web Services to uncover the distinct importance of structured wiring practices and the next generation of cabling standards.

DCDC: What kind of repercussions could be expected from not using industry-standard cabling practices?

Hesse: I've seen past clients choose to reduce CapEx [capital expenditure] spend by using nonstandard or low-cost cabling methods. They mistakenly believe that optimizing for their exact need on day one is the most ideal case. After all, that is how other systems such as electrical and mechanical infrastructure are designed — right up to the current need without excess. Unfortunately, cabling infrastructure cannot be designed in this way. This desire to reduce waste backs data center owners into a corner two to three years down the road. Suddenly, they find themselves pulling everything out and redesigning the cabling plant.

DCDC: What is the most important phase of delivering cable installation for a data center?

Hesse: If I had to pick one, I would say the acceptance testing and commissioning phase. It’s a common misconception that you need a commissioning agent to complete this phase. Because of this, it is the most likely phase to be forgotten and often gets skipped. That’s a mistake. If the final product isn't up to industry standards, all of that “future-proofing” you may have done goes out the window. Instead, you'll be chasing intermittent networking issues that are difficult to diagnose and expensive to repair.

DCDC: In your experience, how has your approach to delivering cabling design affected the cost and schedule of your projects overall?

Hesse: I always advocate for a more integrated approach between cabling plant design and building construction. The cabling plant is often an afterthought and left to the networking team to define after the building is completed. By creating a cross-functional team during building planning and design that includes cabling engineers, you can ensure building spaces and pathways make sense on day one as well as throughout the lifecycle of the building. This may sound at first like a strategy that will increase schedule and cost, but in my experience, those are both reduced. Through a tight and highly competitive bid process, reduced change orders in construction, and reduction in scope overlap between contractors, I’ve found that cost and time to deliver are minimized with a more integrated approach.

DCDC: What is one interesting item about your professional career that one might not know from looking at your bio or LinkedIn profile?

Hesse: Before entering the data center industry, my focus was on power and cabling design in high-performance buildings. These were buildings that use advanced analytics and IoT technology to provide improved security and energy efficiency to the public — both critical to the success of our densely populated cities. However, the intense need these systems have for uptime, data storage, and processing power can easily overwhelm enterprise data centers. The colo and cloud data centers we are building today will be critical to their success. That experience gives me a slightly different perspective on — and appreciation for — the importance of the data center market.

DCDC: What are you most looking forward to at the second Data Center Design & Construction Conference, Oct. 2-3 in Northern Virginia? 

Hesse: I'm most looking forward to hearing about the problems and solutions others have found in their corners of this broad market. A problem solved in a colo in Denver may have wider application in, say, a multistory hyperscale data center in Singapore. This conference presents a unique opportunity to discuss these battle stories with our peers. Sharing these lessons learned with others helps the entire industry — it doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. 

For more information, visit the event website or send an email to melinih@marcusevanscy.com.