Many systems connected with a server room or datacentre environment can be hired on a short-term rental basis or even leased over a longer term. These can include systems within the white space including servers, air conditioners and UPS systems to plant room systems including chillers and larger UPS and standby power generators. It is also possible today to consider rental of a complete modular datacentre or power system within a containerised building.
Hire, Rental and Leasing Plans
The terms ‘hire’ and ‘rental’ are interchangeable terms that refer to the temporary use of an item. In this case we are referring to the temporary use of a system or even a complete facility for a period (referred to as ‘term’). Hire and rental periods can range from 1 week to several months and even up to a year or more in time.
Leasing is very like hire and rental but is a more formal and fixed term contract and may under a Lease Purchase agreement include transfer of Title ownership to the client at the end of the lease period; normally associated with a final settlement figure.
Hire, rental and leasing charging are referred to in accountancy as OPEX (operating charges) and different organisations may have different approaches to their financial treatment of these charges. CAPEX refers to Capital Charges and relates to the actual purchase of a capital item, piece of hardware or software system that will be depreciated over a certain time.
When long hire or rental periods are required it may be necessary to consider a full-term leasing contract or even to purchase a system outright. Hire and rentals are normally priced on a weekly basis and for short term periods. When the length of hire runs to several weeks and months the amount paid should be compared to full ownership.
Ownership and Insurance
For a hire, rental or leasing contract ownership and title to the goods remains with the provider. However, the site may be required to provide their own insurance cover for the goods and installation during the period of usage. This period can run from the moment the equipment is delivered to site even if not connected for several days.
Modular Datacentres and Containerised Power Generation
There may be times when a site needs to supplement its own on-site computing or power or cooling facilities. These can be on a temporary basis only or for a longer-term period. Complete modular datacentres are now available as part of quick response disaster recovery service from several of the leading OEM manufacturers within this sector of the market.
The modular datacentre is a self-contained unit that ‘simply’ requires delivery to a prepared plinth or appropriate space and connecting to on-site data and power cables before a final commissioning. The modular datacentre comes complete with server racks, IT networking hardware, air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, access control and power distribution to the racks including uninterruptible power supplies and battery sets. Provision may be made within the LV switchboard to supply both AC and DC power throughout the modular datacentre.
Containerised power systems can also be hired or rented out to provide temporary or permanent power supplies. Whilst modular datacentres may use a pre-fabricated building, containerised power systems tend to use recycled and refurbished shipping containers. The containers may be fitted out with a standby power generator and UPS system and battery set and the necessary LV switchgear and power and monitoring connections.
There are several items for IT and datacentre managers to consider when comparing a rental period to an outright purchase and some of these are not necessary financially related.
Temporary Power Arrangements
Another example of temporary hire periods is loadbanks. These are pieces of equipment that may be used during the commissioning of a datacentre or server room or during planned maintenance. A load bank is a self-standing device that is used to simulate a load and can be applied to an electrical device such as an uninterruptible power system or standby power generator for testing. Most loadbanks provide a resistive load (using heater bars) but capacitive loads are also available.
A loadbank is typically delivered to site and sited nearby the equipment to be tested. Connection is made using temporary cables. Following completion of the testing, the temporary cables are disconnected and the loadbank removed. Loadbanks units can range from several kilo-Watts (kW) in power several Mega-Watts (MW) and may be portable units or containerised systems.
Temporary Cooling Arrangements
A times it may be necessary to arrange for temporary air conditioning cooling or even heating within a datacentre or server facility. The arrangement is very like that of temporary power. The extra cooling may be required whilst an existing system is disconnected and replaced following a failure or during planned maintenance or upgrade. The extra cooling capacity may also be required due to an increase in server population and utilisation or a rise in the overall ambient temperature (summer heat rise). When not needed the temporary cooling, system can be disconnected and removed.
Server Cabinets and Servers
Where an organisation runs two or more datacentre facilities, it can be necessary hire temporary server cabinets and even servers for short time periods during reconfigurations or refurbishments.
As with any project within a server room or datacentre environment proper preparation and planning is vital. It may be a simple case of transporting a device into situ but more than likely the project will require a complete installation plan and one that in scope is the same as if the building or subsystem was being purchased and installed permanently. Every aspect would need to be covered including logistics, electrical works, cabling, security, commissioning, maintenance and even end-of-life decommissioning and recycling.
Maintenance and Service Contracts
Whether the system is a critical one or not, there may be a need for temporary maintenance contract cover including 24/7 hotline support and emergency call out. This will normally be an option and built-into the hire or rental contract price.
Consumable Items and Charges
Consumable items may or not be covered and charged as extra. Fuel for a generator is a classic example here as are batteries for UPS systems. At all times, the hire or user is responsible for the goods and must ensure that there is no ‘misuse and abuse’ with every item used within its design and environmental specification for the term of the hire or rental or even lease period.
End of Agreement Considerations
At the end of the hire or rental period the supplier will normally send a representative or engineer to site. Equipment will require inspection, disconnection and repackaging before it is removed from site.
When goods are delivered to site it is important to know what is to happen to the packaging. This may be specialist in the form of aluminium cases with foam inserts or card board outers and plinths. The supplier of the hire equipment should make it known who is to store or dispose of the packaging as replacement at the end of the hire period can be expensive and an extra final cost.
The system, modular or containerised scenarios covered here are examples of where an organisation has had to put in place a temporary and planned or unplanned facility. Ultimately the price paid is a premium for the convenience of a being able to use the assets for a fixed term period and without the financial commitment to a complete outright purchase until perhaps the end of the contract hire, rental or leasing period.