Future Facilities’ Process: The Digital Twin for Today's Data Center

Onboarding the Digital Twin: Quick Start Implementation


Every organization has a unique set of problems, priorities, and workflow. When it comes to data center operations, some organizations may be focusing on consolidation while others are exploring hybrid liquid-air systems. Though it may be less exciting to talk about – it certainly doesn’t get the same airtime at industry conferences – some organizations are still looking for a means of knowing where all their IT assets are, or a capacity planning toolset that’s a significant improvement over the reigning stalwart of the industry . . . Microsoft Excel.

At Future Facilities, we introduced the concept of the Digital Twin for data centers: a tool that can handle both the powerful and the practical. The Digital Twin is a 3-D virtual replica of your data center. It is a searchable archive of all your IT assets, represented by “smart” library objects. “Smart,” meaning that the libraries include device IDs, geometry and weight, inflow and outflow vent locations, de-rated power, CFM flow, and the number of network ports. Armed with a built-in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) engine, the Digital Twin understands cooling and airflow like no other software tool. Ultimately, you get a centralized, collaborative database that your teams can use to track and plan for power, space, cooling, weight, and network port capacity. 

We are proud to highlight the high-level challenges the Digital Twin provides solutions for, but we are equally proud of the practical problems it solves. In order to execute on more immediate needs, many clients have embraced a faster approach to on-boarding the Digital Twin. Depending on your needs, we can establish the implementation path that works best for you.  

Figure 1a. An example of the Digital Twin as an asset management database 


Figure 1b. An example of the capacity stop-light assist in Access for IT deployments

Getting Started with the Digital Twin

Implementing the Digital Twin is quick and easy with our integrations and built-in automations. Our process consists of four easy steps that can be completed remotely if needed. Here's a quick overview of how we get you up and running.

Future Facilities’ Process: 

1. Create the Digital Twin
2. Train & Integrate
3. Implementation
4. Ongoing Support

Phase 1: Create the Digital Twin


Input physical data: Our engineers create the Digital Twin from a combination of CAD drawings, IT asset lists, equipment schedules, and branch circuit monitoring data. We can do everything remotely! 

Here’s the data we ask for (if available):

• CAD floorplan (2D, .dwg format)
• CAD section/ elevation view (2D, .dwg format or .pdf format)
• IT asset dump from CMDB or DCIM tool (Excel format)
• 1-line diagrams from UPS level to RPP level (.pdf format)
• PDU/ RPP panel schedules (.pdf or Excel format)
• Recent PDU/RPP load readings (recorded by site team)
• Perf tile flow readings (recorded by site team)
• BMS readings (pressure/temperature sensor points)

While the goal is to have most of the work accomplished off-site, brief on-site visits (1-2 days) can also be carried out to validate the input data and adjust where necessary.  

Build and calibrate: Once the data center floorplan is laid out in our software, we use a combination of environmental monitoring data and spot-check readings to compare model results to real-world measurements. The CFD engine calculates the distribution of airflow and temperature in the data center.

Results and analysis: The results obtained from the CFD analysis identify issues present in the data center, such as mismatches in zone IT load and delivered cooling load. We provide a detailed performance assessment in PowerPoint format, including recommendations to remediate airflow and cooling management issues.  

Phase 2: Train & Integrate


Staff training: We provide all necessary training to operate and interpret the software for decision making.

Integrate existing toolset: Simultaneously, we integrate any of the tools you currently use (e.g. DCIM and CMDB), allowing the Data Center Digital Twin to sync with your existing workflow. We offer integrations to many popular toolsets in the industry, including ServiceNow, Nlyte, StruxureWare, Sunbird and more.

For more information on gathering live data and planned changes from DCIM and CMDB tools, please see the following 6SigmaGateway document.

Phase 3: Implementation

6SigmaDCX Platform Workflow

Figure 3. 6SigmaDCX workflow 

Test setup: Your team implements the software in a test environment to ensure all the internal requirements are met. During this phase, we run various tests to ensure the optimal operation of the software prior to production. This includes scoping out the right systems to host the software on. 

Production rollout: Once the internal requirements are met, we will work closely with your IT admin for software install. This includes installing the software and security certificates, as well as establishing admin and user accounts.

Phase 4: Ongoing Support

Round-the-clock, global support: Our engineering staff collectively offers decades of expertise building, managing, and conducting CFD analysis on Digital Twin models. We have a reputation for greatly exceeding what customers have come to expect from more traditional software support.

Library creation: Included as part of customer support is the creation of new library objects (IT, cabinets, cooling, and electrical equipment).  Library requests are submitted through our support email.

Web and in-person training: As necessary, we can schedule 1-2 hour sessions over web conference as a refresher course or for routine support.  Longer, 1-day in-person trainings can also be provided to on-board new users, with our engineering staff coming to your offices.

Feedback for development: Our agile development process allows us to respond to customer feedback quickly. Our Technical Account Managers will provide you with a reliable point of contact to direct your comments and feature requests, so we continue to meet your needs.  


Future Facilities process
Figure 4. Future Facilities' Process


Get in Touch to Find out More


At Future Facilities, we believe that transparency in our process is key to ensuring successful customers. Contact us today to learn how we can personalize our process for your business modeling capabilities and needs.

Blog written by: Aitor Zabalegui, Lead Consultant Engineer, East Coast and Robert Schmidt, Director of Sales + Client Innovation - Data Center Infrastructure Software SME

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23 July, 2020

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