Prefabricated data centers are growing in popularity as time-to-market and right-sizing infrastructure to match application load become important issues. Arun Shenoy, Vice President of Schneider Electric’s IT business in the UK and Ireland, is convinced that a prefabricated approach can provide data center operators with a much more ‘user-friendly’ experience than they have previously enjoyed. At a recent conference I asked why prefabrication is a good thing for customers. See our interview here.
“Over the last 15 years we’ve become quite comfortable with the growth of one particular company, namely Google,” he said. “Google has grown from being a very small Silicon Valley start-up to becoming essentially the world’s largest creator of infrastructure and an organization that touches almost every part of our daily lives. I think we’ve come to understand that there is a concept of a Google-like experience. Google has become very, very good in terms of harnessing technology and creating infrastructure that very much suits its environment.”
“I think what a lot of data center owners and operators would like is a similar Google-like experience. The challenge is that they don’t necessarily have access to the same capital to be able to build infrastructure of that scale. They also may not have the luxury of having a very simplified workload environment. They have to support many workloads: ERP applications, HR applications, financial application, sales and so on but at the same time they would like that Google-like experience.”
“I think that is where companies like Schneider Electric can really help. We can take what we know of the industry, technology and our expertise in other industrial applications and pull it all together to create prefabricated modular data center environments. Now these could be focused around many different things. Some could be power modules or UPS modules. Others could be cooling modules, or white-space modules or they can be ‘All-in-Ones’ so we have to be quite careful what we mean by the term prefab.”
‘Prefab means that I’m going to prefabricate something off site. I’m going to assume a lot of the risk of project management, of execution, of integration or installation. I’m going to take that risk away from the site, assemble it in a centralized facility somewhere, test it and only then, ship it to the site.”
“Why is that good? It makes projects more reliable from a time and money perspective and this is what helps bring that Google-like experience to our customers. They don’t need access to large amounts of capital; instead they can leverage Schneider Electric. They can talk to us about how we take our knowledge of the industry, the products and industrial environments and bring it together to give them a Google-like experience.”
“For customers, this means that they are up and running with infrastructure much quicker than they would have been, and it is with infrastructure that is much more predictable, much more reliable and, most importantly, much more efficient.”
There are some important distinctions between the various types of factory-built building blocks available on the market. Schneider Electric white paper 165: “Types of Prefabricated Modular Data Centers” proposes standard terminology for categorizing the types of prefabricated modular data centers, defines and compares their key attributes, and provides a framework for choosing the best approach for your business requirement.