Total Cost of Ownership for Data Center Cooling Equipment: A Third Component in the Metric

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In a mature industry it is easy to assume that there is not much differentiation between the top suppliers.  The HVAC industry is one of the market sectors in the global economy that is fairly mature and has a lot of competitors.  How are owners, engineers, and contractors to differentiate between the various suppliers?   Often times even custom solutions are treated from purchasing departments as though they are commodities and as a result any manufacturer ought to be able to produce a similar end product.  As a result the decision is sometimes made on price alone.  Obviously, the capital expense of the equipment is important, but the total cost of ownership also needs to be considered.

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 TCO metric.  There is a third factor (among others) that should also be included, that of business continuity.  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.  This along with the following questions should be asked by data center owners when determining a true TCO:

1) What reputation does the manufacturer have for providing quality equipment?

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?

3) Will the lives of my in house project management staff be made easier and consequently more efficient?  Or will they be stressed 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?

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.

Visit United Metal Products or contact h.simmons@unitedmetal.com to learn more about using evaporative cooling technology to cool data centers.