Raised Floor Vs Slab Floor Data Centers – The Ongoing Debate

by | Colocation, Colocation Consulting, Data Center Efficiency, Data Centers, Data Storage

Some debates are quite inconclusive, like in the data center world where the debate ‘raised floor Vs slab floor’ is a classic example. This discussion would have ended no sooner than it started had it taken place a couple of decades ago simply because most data centers were constructed on raised floors then. However, today there is a raging debate with data center experts having differing opinions.

The Support and Dilemma

What makes it difficult to decide quickly is the number of supporting documents including case studies and white papers being touted by both sides with equal fervor. All said and done, the design that best suits a data center is one that easily aligns with the company’s main objectives and is conducive to the operations. Requirements will vary from the data center to data center and the trick lies in finding and settling down for the best fit.

Find the purpose first

Another important factor that needs to be taken into account is the purpose for which the data center is being built, whether it will cater to a single business or a host of tenants (where requirements can vary). However, for a multi-tenant colocation center, there is bound to be a greater challenge.

There’s certainly a tangible advantage for a multi-tenant data center where future flexibility needs to be taken into consideration. This is simply because a raised floor enclosure makes it easier to accommodate any enhancements to cooling infrastructure as well as provisions for electrical conduits and fittings that can be easily concealed under a raised floor. One can also plan future additions like door coolers, heat transfer intermediates or cooling units to the cooling equipment infrastructure.

Ease of maintenance and lower costs

On the other hand, the advantage with a slab floor is that the installation and maintenance cost of equipment is much lower. Unlike a raised floor, point loading and moving loads pose no serious challenge with a slab floor.

The basic design supremacy for any data center lies in its cooling efficiency. However, whether raised floor or slab floor, there’s hardly any difference made in this area. Whether cool air is pushed through ducts and diffusers as is done on a slab floor or is delivered through the perforated floor tiles as in a raised floor, there is no great difference in energy consumption. One minor advantage with the raised floor is there is a very remote likelihood of air leakage. It is also easy to rearrange the perforated tiles whenever necessary. The only issue with overhead cooling in a raised floor is the difficulty encountered with system air balancing.

Hardly any difference in construction costs

There is no great difference in construction cost per square foot between a raised floor and slab floor. However, one area where the slab floor has a distinct advantage is when the data centers are located in earthquake-prone areas. Apart from the cost savings, stability is guaranteed while anchoring the equipment. One can certainly do away with the lateral bracing and reinforcement that is necessary for a raised floor center. The final decision though hinges on the prevailing demand, which tends to rest more on a raised floor.

About DataCenterandColocation

DataCenterandColocation is a free professional and non-bias service provided to clients for selecting the right data center, colocation, managed hosting or cloud facility for their requirements. DataCenterandColocation is one of the largest colocation site consulting firms in the United States. They represent approximately 3000 data centers and colocation centers in the United States and Canada. At no cost to clients, they identify specific space, location, power and security requirements, solicit proposals, professionally analyze the responses, compare the strengths and weaknesses of each facility, negotiate to price and deliver highly competitive bids for colocation. They also perform a comparative analysis of in-house vs. design-build services, wholesale data center space, and data connectivity.