Implementing a Modular Data Center? Factors to Consider Before You Buy

October 10, 2019 Scott Neal

According to a 2019 Global Market Insights, Inc. report, the modular data center market is slated to grow from $13 billion USD in 2018 to $50 billion USD by 2025. Allied Market Research recently published a report citing that the global edge computing market generated $1.73 billion in 2017 and is expected to attain $16.55 billion by 2025. Interesting figures, you may say, but what’s the point? Regardless of whether you believe the hype, these two trends are very closely related and one is actually helping drive the other.

The growing momentum of digitization, IoT, and automation across all industries is driving the need for more localized processing power near machines, equipment, and users, while providing a seamless connection to the cloud. In response, many organizations are supplementing traditional on-premise centralized data centers with both cloud and edge computing data center resources.

On the edge computing side, facilities that house highly automated processes, such as smart warehouses and robotics-heavy manufacturing plants, are seeing a need for increased local data center processing power. However, because their facilities are purpose-built to accomplish very specialized tasks (such as picking and packing of goods and hosting of dynamic assembly lines), they encounter a number of challenges when it comes to implementing on-site data centers. These challenges are not just limited to factories or warehouses. There are many application environments that can benefit from a non-traditional construction solution to solve specific business challenges. This is where modular data centers intersect with edge computing. Modular data centers offer an alternative method for deploying an edge computing solution in a space or environment typically not designed to support IT equipment, as well as critical power and cooling infrastructure.

IT professionals in meeting

Requirements That Modular Data Centers Address

Though modular data centers have been available in the marketplace for several years, new technologies and designs have helped to redefine core elements and attributes. Modular data centers are pre-engineered, pre-built, factory-integrated, pre-tested assemblies of IT, power, rack, and cooling subsystems that are typically mounted on a skid or in an enclosure. They can be installed either inside or outside of a building (in an adjacent parking lot, for example). They provide an alternative approach to building a traditional data center and, in some cases, they can provide unique advantages that play well in edge environments.

How can you determine if a modular data center is right for you? Listed below are several criteria which can serve as guide posts to determine whether deploying modular data centers makes good business sense.

  1. Is fast speed of deployment required? – In situations where rapid asset deployment emerges as a high priority, a modular data center may provide the best fit. As pre-built solutions, their cost is predictable. This expedites the process when users are interfacing with financial departments to secure budget. Also, various phases of the data center project can be implemented in parallel. For example, the cement pad for the module can be poured while the module is being built in the factory. In addition, end users don’t have to spend lots of time chasing down local authorities for regulatory approvals. Codes and standards are maintained within the module as it’s being built. When compared to a traditional data center build, the modular data center approach can reduce project timelines by up to 6 months.
  2. Do you have facility space restrictions? – Available space that could be used to expand a data center in a hospital, university, warehouse, or factory should be financially weighed against its potential for revenue generation within the same space. If costs for retrofitting a data center into an existing facility are daunting, a self-contained modular data center located just outside of the building might be more feasible. If no free space is available, then the case for a modular data center is even stronger.
  3. Do you require a solution that is repeatable? – In a scenario where an enterprise requires a rapid rollout of edge computing capacity across multiple geographically remote sites, modular data centers may also be a viable option. But in these cases, select a vendor with a global presence that has a robust supply chain in place to support rollouts across the regions. In underdeveloped areas where securing the necessary expertise and materials required for standard data center construction is problematic, pre-built modular data centers can provide the consistency of quality needed to make remote support of modular data centers possible.

Keep Exploring. Use Our Cost Calculator on Modular Data Centers

If you answered “yes” to some or all of the questions above, then prefabricated modular data centers should merit your closer consideration. Punch the numbers in this free prefab vs. traditional cost calculator TradeOff Tool to generate a quick cost comparison and aid in your modular decision making. Or, explore on a higher level the fast, flexible, and configurable solutions with EcoStruxure Modular Data Centers.

The post Implementing a Modular Data Center? Factors to Consider Before You Buy appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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