As demand for more computing power continues to rise, IT professionals are pressured to look for new data center solutions—especially solutions that give them faster access to more processing power at lower costs.
The need to handle more data is clearly driving this growing demand. According to the latest Cisco Visual Networking Index, IP traffic is expected to reach 4.8 zettabytes per year by 2022, or 396 exabytes per month; in 2017, the levels of traffic were 1.5 zettabytes per year, or 122 exabytes per month. Global IP traffic is expected to triple over the next five years as the number of devices connected to the IP networks will grow to three times the world population by 2022. A large portion of this data traffic will be handled in the cloud, but there is still a booming demand for hyperscale data center solutions. Hossein Fateh, founder of CloudHQ, predicts that there will be demand for 350-megawatt data center campuses by 2022; the biggest deal signed in 2018 was for a 72-megawatt facility.
Where is all this new processing power going to come from? Although more hyperscale data centers are being built around the globe, many companies are looking for simpler data center solutions today that can scale with their needs, and modular data centers are proving to be an ideal solution.
Surprisingly, however, few organizations consider modular data center solutions as a viable alternative. There are still many myths and misperceptions about prefabricated construction methods, which leave CIOs and IT professionals thinking of data center modules as “less than.” The truth? Modular data center solutions are well-suited to expand to any enterprise infrastructure.
It’s time to debunk some of the common myths about modular data centers:
Myth 1: Modular data centers are only containers.
There was a time when modular data centers were delivered as ISO containers. These early modules were self-contained data centers housed in shipping containers, and came equipped with all the components needed for deployment. They could easily be delivered, dropped in place at a building site or on an oil rig, and connected within a matter of hours. Although that perception still persists, that was the early days. Today, modular data centers come in all shapes and sizes, whether it’s a skid, a room, or a container. The idea is that modular data centers are plug-and-play, i.e., they are constructed off-site and shipped ready-made to be added wherever they are needed.
Myth 2: Modular data centers are only temporary.
There is no reason to equate prefabricated with temporary. Whether installed in the parking lot or inside the data center, modular data center solutions are designed to be fully functional when they arrive, and optimized to provide ongoing, reliable service.
Myth 3: Modular data centers are more expensive.
Modular solutions actually save client’s money in a number of ways. First, they are less expensive to build since construction in a clean-room factory component is more efficient, and requires fewer personnel. Second, they are less expensive to install since they arrive ready to operate; the only requirement is to connect the power and the data links. Third, they are less expensive to operate compared to a similar stick built solution. Using factory-specified systems means they are tightly integrated, so they require less power and have fewer subsystems. They also tend to be more compact, which saves on cooling.
Myth 4: Modular data centers are less resilient and less secure.
Modular data centers are just as secure as conventional data center solutions and more durable. They have the same physical security, especially if they are installed in a protected area with conventional barriers, such as security guards and fences. They also are more resilient. Since modular data center solutions are factory-built, it means they receive rigorous testing and quality assurance. There are no integration problems—one of the major sources of failure—since everything is preconfigured. And when they are installed through a certified process, such as ISO: 9001:2015, Underwriter Laboratories (UL), CSA Group, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), it significantly reduces the chance of failure.
Myth 5: Modular data centers offer limited hardware choices.
Even though modular data centers are prefabricated, that doesn’t mean they can’t be customized. You can choose to use prespecified equipment or your own hardware. In fact, you can create a prefabricated data center using any configuration that will meet your specific needs, and you still get the benefit of off-site assembly and testing, so the unit is delivered ready to install.
Myth 6: You can’t scale module data centers.
Capacity planning is an ongoing challenge, especially with a data center that needs to grow with business needs. The truth is that scaling a conventional, brick-and-mortar data center has its own perils. Trying to add more capacity beyond the original design poses operational risk; you never know what part of the infrastructure could fail or create a bottleneck. With modular data centers, you have self-contained units that are already optimized for capacity and performance. Additional modules can be added as needed to increase capacity, so scaling the data center is relatively simple and all resources are being used at optimal efficiency, which maximizes capital expenditures.
There are even more misconceptions about modular data center solutions, but the reality is that they can do anything that brick-and-mortar data centers constructed on site can do. In fact, more operators are using modular data centers for edge computing, core computing, colocation, and telecoms. This is because modular data centers offer all the capacity needed, are less expensive, and easier to install.
There is no question that the demand for more data processing power is going to increase, especially with new demands from applications such as the Internet of Things (IoT), a trend that will lead to more devices housing information in your data center. Big data is just going to get bigger, which is going to increase pressure on organizations to add data processing capacity. As demand for more computing capacity grows, so will demand for modular data center solutions that can be quickly deployed to provide lasting, scalable service.