Automated Data Processing: Mainframe  



The Automated Data Processing Center for Main Frame System (ADP Mainframe) space types is a facility for "vertical" data processing equipment including dense frame and rack-mounted processing systems with critical uptime requirements. ADP Mainframe space types include facilities for true mainframes, and for dense server farms arranged on vertical racks of equipment.

Server room

Typical server room

Space Attributes

Typical features of ADP Mainframe space types include the list of applicable design objectives elements as outlined below. For a complete list and definitions of the design objectives within the context of whole building design, click on the titles below.

Functional / Operational

  • Occupancy: ADP Mainframe spaces fall under Business Occupancy B2, with Sprinkler protected construction. The GSA Acoustical Class B2 for spaces with concentrations of noisy equipment.

  • Raised floors: Raised floor is the preferred system for distribution of critical services (power, voice, data, and HVAC) in ADP Mainframe space types. Raised floors for ADP Mainframe may have low-pressure, high induction diffusers and should be constructed of concrete filled metal pans at 24" modules with pedestal and stringer support, with intermediate support.

Raised flooring in place in ADP mainframe space
Raised flooring open with view of cables in ADP mainframe space

Raised flooring in place (left) and open (right) offers ease of access and storage of distribution systems.

  • Technological connectivity: Conduit and outlet boxes are installed for fiber-optic main horizontal and vertical backbone system and high speed communication lines for servers.

  • Dual path service lines for power: Dual path service lines ensure a constant power supply, which is critical to the operations of ADP Mainframe.

  • HVAC with redundant components: Computer equipment operates within specific ranges of air quality, temperature, and relative humidity levels. Significant variations of these levels in the ADP Mainframe environment could cause disruptions in equipment operation and decrease the life of the equipment. To ensure proper operation of the ADP Mainframe spaces, redundant mechanical systems with service provided 24 hours per day and humidity control are typically installed. Separate thermostat controls should be provided in each room, even in areas of 24-hour operation, which can be overridden by the building automation system. Also, copier rooms, printer rooms, and service units should have 100% direct exhaust to maintain good indoor air quality. For more information, see WBDG High-Performance HVAC.

graphic of rows of equipment racks in an alternating arrangement of cold aisles and hot aisles

To control environmental temperature disparities and avoid downtime, a Best Practice is to use rows of equipment racks in an alternating arrangement of "cold aisles" and "hot aisles."
See also Alternating Cold and Hot Aisles Provides More Reliable Cooling for Server Farms by Robert F. "Dr. Bob" Sullivan. The Uptime Institute: 2000.


  • Acoustic control: Sound baffles are provided at all acoustically rated partitions for the air supply system to control noise.

  • Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS): Typically, emergency power and uninterruptible power are provided to meet all electrical requirements of the entire ADP Mainframe facility for at least 30 minutes. For more information, see WBDG Productive—Assure Reliable Systems and Spaces.

Secure / Safe


IT systems, including PCs, data storage, and data processing are energy intensive activities. However, many options can be considered to reduce energy use while also increasing efficiencies and reducing overall costs. Many organizations are developing plans to modernize data centers to realize their full potential while also reducing their impact on the environment. Best practices include utilizing the latest technologies such as virtualization technology and cloud computing. Additionally, data center design footprint can be reduced by using high-density cooling and power equipment. For areas of a data center that create a lot of heat, zone cooling devices can be deployed.

Example Program

The following is a representative building program.


Tenant Occupiable Areas
Qty. SF Each Space Req'd. Sum Actual SF Tenant Usable Factor Tenant USF
Control Room       588    
    Control Consoles 8 60 480      
    Supervisor Console 1 60 60      
    Reference Manuals 4 12 48      
Mainframe Room       668    
    Mainframe Towers 4 132 528      
    System Administrator Console 1 60 60      
    HVAC Units 4 20 80      
Server Room       524    
    Unix Boxes 20 12 240      
    Control Terminals 8 30 240      
    Racks 2 22 44      
DASD Room       3,280    
    DASD Units 32 100 3,200      
    HVAC Units 4 20 80      
Tape Room       1,300    
    Tape Drive 4 80 320      
    Tape Storage 80 12 960      
    HVAC Units 1 20 20      
Printer Room       1,500    
    Laser Continuous Form 1 140 140      
    Laser Cut Sheet 4 140 560      
    Impact Printer 1 140 140      
    Burster 1 140 140      
    Work Table 8 30 240      
    Paper Storage 4 20 80      
    Control Consoles 3 60 180      
    HVAC Units 1 20 20      
Communications Systems       660    
    Controller 16 30 480      
    Telephone Console 1 60 60      
    Switches 2 60 120      
Administrative and Support       510    
    System Administrator Office 1 150 150      
    Data Administrator Office 1 120 120      
    Web Administrator Office 1 120 120      
    Shift Supervisor 1 120 120      
    Test Rooms 2 200 400      
    Electrical Room 2 240 480      
    UPS Battery Room 2 120 240      
    Fire Suppression 1 20 20      
    Housekeeping 1 60 60      
    Tenant Suite     10,230 9,030 1.22 11,002
Tenant Usable Areas           11,002

Example Plans

The following is representative of typical tenant plans.

Tenant plan -layout- of ADP Mainframe Space Type

Example Construction Criteria

For GSA, the unit costs for ADP Mainframe space types are based on the construction quality and design features in the following table . This information is based on GSA's benchmark interpretation and could be different for other owners.

Relevant Codes and Standards

The following agencies and organizations have developed codes and standards affecting the design of ADP Mainframe spaces. Note that the codes and standards are minimum requirements. Architects, engineers, and consultants should consider exceeding the applicable requirements whenever possible:

Additional Resources