Every data center seems to suffer from the same problem: the need for more capacity. New technologies, such as big data, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT), are driving the demand for increased processing power, data storage, and physical space. Demand for additional capacity and faster data access is driving construction of new data centers, but they require land and take time to build. That’s why more organizations are looking to modular data centers as an optimal solution.
Modular data center construction is proving to be the ideal alternative to building conventional data centers because of its capacity and affordability. In fact, the modular data center market was valued at $9.46 billion in 2017 and is expected to exceed $34.99 billion by 2023. A conventional data center requires space ranging from 5,000 to 500,000 square feet and can take from 18-24 months to complete. Conversely, a modular data center has a much smaller footprint and can be delivered in 30 percent less time, and at 20-30 percent less cost. Modular data centers can even be designed to fit into an existing data center or building, to add scalable processing power.
The Many Benefits of Modular Data Construction
Modular data center construction offers a number of advantages and efficiencies that address today’s need for more processing capacity:
- Fast, reliable construction: Modular data centers are constructed off-site, then shipped for final assembly and installation. Since they are factory-built, they can be assembled faster and fully tested prior to shipping. For example, rather than having to manually install miles of cable after equipment arrives onsite, power and IT cabling is installed and positioned during assembly, eliminating weeks of pulling cable and testing connections.
- Smaller footprint: Modular data centers also have a much smaller footprint, so they can be readily installed on a skid, concrete pad, or even inside an existing data center.
- Easy assembly: Since the data center is completely assembled and tested off-site, final assembly and commissioning on-site is easy. The final assembly can be completed quickly and doesn’t require highly skilled labor. In fact, the number of on-site man hours needed can be reduced by up to 84 percent, thanks to preassembly. Even the power modules are prefabricated so they can be connected quickly, without system disruption.
- Scalable computing power: Modular also means you can add capacity as needed. Additional servers, racks, power, and cooling modules can be readily added to the initial module, building out processing power quickly and cost-effectively. This also eliminates the demand for added space.
- Totally customizable: Even though modular data centers are factory-assembled, it doesn’t mean the design isn’t customized. Components are carefully chosen to address specific data processing and storage requirements, including the need for planned future capacity. With modular data center construction, you get the advantages of customization, along with pre-assembly and testing of ready-to-assemble components.
- Energy-efficient: Operating costs for modular data centers also tend to be substantially lower than conventional data centers. Systems are installed and tested at the factory so the components are more closely matched to optimize power requirements. And cooling—which is typically the greatest data center operating expense—is less costly, because modular data center construction includes sealed floors and doors with under-floor and overhead cooling. Plus, the smaller space requires less energy to cool.
- Safety and security: Data center modules have redundancies and backups built in case of failure. And since modular data center construction results in an enclosed, self-contained unit, it’s much easier to physically secure.
Taking Modular Data Centers to the Edge
Another factor driving modular data center construction is demand for edge computing. Not only do companies need more capacity, but they also want to move mission-critical computing closer to users. As data traffic increases with the addition of more devices, such as IoT data traffic, it’s not realistic to expect to store everything in the cloud. Using modular data centers for edge computing promotes greater efficiency and cuts down on bandwidth costs, while addressing the need for faster speeds, more bandwidth, and less latency.
This is how Microsoft defines edge computing:
Edge computing is where compute resources, ranging from credit-card-size computers to micro data centers, are placed closer to information-generation sources, to reduce network latency and bandwidth usage generally associated with cloud computing. Edge computing ensures continuation of service and operation despite intermittent cloud connections. Industries ranging from manufacturing to healthcare are eager to develop real-time control systems that use machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve efficiencies and reduce cost.
Micro and modular data centers are ideal for edge computing because of their scalable architecture and ease of deployment. A modular data center can be configured with multiple micro data centers, each offering 80 to 100 kW per rack for edge computing applications. And since these micro data centers are part of a modular ecosystem, they have cooling, redundant power, fire suppression, security, etc., built in to ensure uninterrupted data processing.
Clearly, as demand for more capacity and faster, localized data access continues to grow, so will demand for modular data center construction. Modular data centers are the simplest, fastest, and most cost-effective way to bring processing power where it is needed most without compromising on capacity or scalability.