Anoka County relocating IT data center, making improvements to boost efficiency

By Peter Bodley – ABC Newspapers

Anoka County will be relocating its information technology (IT) data center and making improvements to improve its efficiency and save money.

The Anoka County Board Jan. 22, on the recommendation of the County Commissioner Matt Look, chairman of the Finance and Capital Improvements Committee, awarded a contract to Kraus-Anderson Construction, Circle Pines, at a cost of not to exceed $925,000.

Kraus-Anderson was not the low bid, but was recommended by Darren Regan, Dunham Associates, which the county board retained in October 2011 to provide data center design and construction administration services on the project at a cost of $59,000.

According to Regan, in a letter to the county, neither the general contractors submitting the low bid ($905,000) nor the second low bid ($914,200) met the minimum requirements for data center experience and did not include subcontractor project experience.

On the other hand, Kraus-Anderson does meet the minimum requirements for data center experience, so do its two identified subcontractors, Regan wrote.

According to Andrew Dykstra, county director of facilities management and construction, funding for the contract has been included by the county board in its 2013 county building fund budget.

Besides the move from its current location in the basement of the west courthouse to the basement of the government center, the project will include upgraded mechanical/heating and air conditioning equipment.

Originally installed in the mid-1980s, the current equipment is a combination of several systems added over time which are now reaching the end of their life, Dykstra said.

Right now, the data center area has four HVAC systems operating at the same time, he said.

Once this upgrade and modernization is completed, there will just be one HVAC mechanical system in the data center and a separate cooling system won’t be needed, Dykstra said.

It was last summer that the county’s Finance and Capital Improvements Committee approved a design option that would moved the data center from the west courthouse basement to the government center basement.

According to Dykstra, benefits of the move include operating cost reduction, more efficient space design, reduced construction risks and improved functionality.

For example, Dykstra estimates the net annual savings on utilities will be $22,000 plus reduced facilities management and construction annual costs of $18,000.

Construction benefits include a clean space that would require minimal work for relocating existing overhead piping and equipment out of the area where the new data center would be built, Dykstra said.

In addition, new equipment can be installed without disassembling and transporting it in pieces, he said.

As well, all equipment will be located in one room; there are two rooms now – the main data center room and a network room sharing a common wall, Dykstra said.

“Equipment will be centralized into one room, eliminating the need to cool two separate rooms,” he said.

According to Dykstra, the new space is designed for a modern data center with data cabling overhead for easy access, racks optimized for energy and space efficiency and deeper raised floor for greater airflow.

The footprint for the data center in the government center basement will be less than in the west courthouse basement – 1,600 square feet compared with 2,500 square feet, Dykstra said.

And the move to the government center means that the IT data center will be closer to the closets, which will save the IT department time, he said.

Construction work is expected to begin in February and take four to five months to complete, Dykstra said.


Editor’s note: Peter Bodley is managing editor of ABC Newspapers. Peter Bodley is at [email protected]