Working Toward a Total Cost of Ownership Metric for Cooling

July 22, 2015
Harold Simmons of United Metal Products examines overlooked aspects when calculating total cost of ownership for data center cooling.

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Voices of the Industry”, a column for thought leaders in the data center industry to share their insights. This week’s column is from Harold Simmons, Global Director for Strategy at United Metal Products. He dives into sometime overlooked aspects when calculating total cost of ownership for data center cooling.

Harold Simmons, Global Director of Strategy, United Metal Products

CAPEX + OPEX + ???
The total cost of ownership for data center cooling equipment typically includes an assessment of the first cost along with the operating costs of the cooling system. Both the CAPEX and OPEX are tremendously important in determining the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). That being said, these two factors alone are not all that should go into a robust (and more realistic) TCO metric. There is a third factor (among others) that should also be included, that of business continuity.

Business Continuity as Part of the Total Cost of Ownership Metric
Business continuity would include factors such as operational efficiency not just for the equipment, but for the staff tasked with overseeing the equipment as well. This is where the reputation that a company has in regards to the quality of their solution needs to be provided with additional weight in the TCO metric. One company may offer a significantly lower price than their competition, but at what cost to business continuity? If there is a question regarding the operation of the equipment what kind of response is the manufacturer known for?

These along with the following five types of questions should be asked by data center owners and consultants when determining a true TCO:

1) What reputation does the manufacturer have for providing quality equipment? Will the equipment that shows up on the job site be in accordance with the basis of design? Or does the manufacturer have a reputation for cutting corners?

2) How easy is the manufacturer to work with on Day 2? In other words, what happens after the equipment has been paid for and installed? Does the manufacturer become increasingly difficult to get in touch with? Are they readily available to take calls and help provide knowledge gleaned from years of experience? Or are they just recently beginning to provide cooling systems?

3) Will the lives of my in house project management staff be made easier and consequently more efficient? Or will they be stressed, distracted, and perform at a lower level of effectiveness because of the lack of helpfulness from the equipment supplier?

4) What will our company’s relationship with the manufacturer themselves be like going forward? Will the conversation be filtered through 3rd party equipment reps? Or will we have direct access to the manufacturer themselves?

5) Does the data center cooling equipment manufacturer have a reputation of showing up on time, doing what they say, finishing what they start, and making right—in a quick manner—anything that might go wrong? Does the manufacturer have enough experience in deploying equipment that they know what errors to avoid?

When questions such as the above are answered they can help data center owners, contractors, and consulting engineers to gain a better sense of the true cost of ownership.

Let’s continue the discussion. As you think through a case for business continuity in a TCO metric, what other types of questions come to mind?

Harold Simmons, is the Global Director of Strategy for United Metal Products.

About the Author

Voices of the Industry

Our Voice of the Industry feature showcases guest articles on thought leadership from sponsors of Data Center Frontier. For more information, see our Voices of the Industry description and guidelines.

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