Structural Specifications for High-Quality Data Centers

Many businesses can benefit from the services that data centers provide.  Data centers typically offer colocation services as well as disaster recovery services.  Currently, there are many data centers in operation around the world.  But, not all of these facilities are created equal.  So, how can you tell them apart?

There are a variety of categories to analyze when assessing the overall quality of a data center.  Many of these categories have to do with the design of the facility itself.  It is vital that a data center have the proper structural specifications in order to protect clients’ equipment and maintain continuous network operability.  A facility that is purpose-built is typically of much higher quality that those that are retrofitted.  Here are some reasons that make purpose-built facilities better than retrofit ones:

Ability to Withstand Natural Disaster Events

Purpose-built facilities are constructed with natural disasters in mind.  They are built to withstand earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, flooding, etc.  Here are some comparisons between purpose-built specifications and retrofit specifications:

1.)    Purpose-built facility specifications

1. Exterior is constructed to handle winds of 160 miles-per-hour.
2. Exterior walls should be at least 10 inches thick.
3. The facility’s foundation should be secured deep into the surrounding bedrock.
4. The facility’s roof should be made of 6.5-inch-thick concrete.

i.      There should be a minimal number of openings on the rooftop.  So, rooftops should not have skylights, vents, AC units, etc.

5. The exterior doors of the facility should not be taller than 7 feet in height.

i.      Very large doors and windows create unnecessarily vulnerable parts of a facility’s exterior.

6. Structural components should be welded together.


2.)    Typical retrofit facility specifications

1. They may only meet the wind-rating standards of ‘normal’ buildings.

i.      They are constructed to withstand winds of 90 miles-per-hour.

2. Exterior walls are only 7 inches thick.

3. The structure has a standard, flat concrete foundation.

4. The roofing is typically made of metal or another relatively weak material.

i.      The roof thickness is approximately 1 inch.

ii.      There may be many skylights, vents, drains, AC units, etc.

Overall, firms should remember that retrofit facilities were not originally built to house a data center.  So, these facilities have inherently weaker design specifications than purpose-built facilities.

Protection of Machinery and Proper Utility Feed Design

A purpose-built facility is designed so that its backup generators and other equipment can be kept inside the facility.  This allows the equipment to be protected from adverse weather conditions and to be easily serviced by the facility’s technicians.  Also, utility feeds should be run underground in concrete-encased conduits.  The feeds should enter the facility at various locations to ensure redundancy.

Retrofit facilities were not originally designed to be data centers.  So, their utility feeds may not be fully protected or able to offer full redundancy.  Also, some equipment may have to be located outside the facility.

Logical Layout

Purpose-built facilities are designed in such a way that allows technicians and clients’ employees to easily move and work within the data center.  The structural layout is designed to maximize the efficiency of operations.

A retrofit facility was obviously not designed this way.  These facilities may have oddly-shaped rooms and inconvenient floor plans.


It is important to select a Dallas colocation service with the proper structural specifications.  This will ensure that equipment is safe and that their network never experiences any downtime.  Purpose-built facilities offer various advantages over retrofitted facilities.  Purpose-built facilities are built to withstand natural disasters, to protect on-site machinery and utility feeds, and to provide a logical layout for efficient operations.