When it comes to data centers, how much capacity is too much? That’s like asking, “how high is up?” Capacity requirements are going to differ for every organization, and even after adding more computing power, it may seem that you still don’t have enough. The challenge for data center architects is designing an infrastructure that has scalable capacity without overprovisioning or breaking the budget. That’s why more enterprise data center designers, especially within the colocation space, are turning to modular data centers to help them scale their operations.
New demands from big data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are placing a substantial strain on today’s data centers, making capacity planning more difficult than ever. Gradually scaling any data center to add more capacity is one of the biggest challenges for any data center management team. Where do you add storage capacity? What about additional servers, power and cooling? According to a Sabey Data Centers report, even when you overprovision to anticipate growth, it can be difficult for data center managers to estimate future capacity requirements.
Rather than trying to overplan for potential capacity, more enterprises are turning to colocators to give them elasticity, since colocators can add capacity as needed. As the report points out, colocation facilities reduce upfront costs, but the colocation facility itself has to be able to add capacity on demand. Using modular data center design makes it possible for colocators to scale quickly and efficiently, which is a real advantage for tenants demanding more computing power as part of their competitive advantage.
Reduce Risk with Plug-and-Play Capacity
Modular data centers eliminate the need for building in stranded capacity, including designing in more floor space, cooling, energy and resources than you may need. Capacity has associated costs, so building a data center with more capacity than you need, just in case you might need it later, is an expensive and often losing proposition.
With modular data centers, you don’t have to design in extra, unused capacity, because modules can be added to expand capacity as you need it. In other words, you only provision and pay for what you need. This approach not only eliminates waste, but it also substantially reduces risk in a number of ways.
Using a modular data center design means you are adding self-contained units as needed, to add more computing power. Each module is self-contained with its own power and cooling, so you can expand the modular data center without adding strain to the existing infrastructure. You also have built-in redundancy because each module is independent. The Sabey report also notes that modular data centers enable “concurrent maintainability,” which means you can perform electrical and mechanical maintenance on any individual module, without disrupting the performance of the overall data center.
When a tenant leases colocation space, the responsibility for fulfilling tenant needs and optimizing the power usage effectiveness (PUE) of the facility, falls to the colocation provider. Modular data centers allow for customizable, factory-built cabinets, floor plans, server racks and more, so components are designed for optimal performance and energy use. Because they are more energy-efficient, they also require less cooling capacity, which lowers infrastructure costs even further. Due to the modules being totally customizable, you get optimal performance by choosing best-in-class hardware.
Consistency Helps Control Costs
For colocation providers, adopting module data centers not only addresses tenant scalability concerns, but it also helps them control their own costs, while ensuring customizability.
Using a modular design gives you an exact schematic of each component, including the list of equipment and components needed for assembly. This means the cost to assemble and deliver each modular data center is consistent and controllable, while all of the fabrication is done off-site and the complete unit is delivered, ready for installation. Going modular also ensures that costs are fixed and not subject to variables, such as overtime, materials, weather or other factors that result in cost overruns.
For hyperscale computing, colocation providers are increasingly preferring to use modular data centers, because they bring consistency. The same layout and components can be reproduced for use with multiple tenants in the same facility, or modules can be cloned for installation across multiple facilities. This dramatically simplifies cost projections, production schedules and maintenance. The same staff can also be trained to install and maintain the same modules in any facility, on any campus, operated by the colocation operator.
Modular data centers also make it easier to provide consistent quality in performance and maintenance. The plug-and-play design makes it easier to isolate faults and guarantee uptime. And because the modules are fabricated at the factory, they are thoroughly tested before they are shipped, which increases reliability.
Adopting modular design provides a cost-efficient and elegant way to address the scalability problem, because modular data centers offer plug-and-play capacity. By adopting a consistent design template, colocation service providers can scale their businesses quickly and efficiently to meet tenant needs. Due to these benefits, modular data centers are clearly going to become the standardized approach for colocation service providers.
If you want to learn more about modular data center design and how it cuts operating costs and improves efficiency while enabling scalability, be sure to download The Complete Guide to Modular Data Centers.