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The rise of modular data centres

FY Teng | July 16, 2014
DCD Intelligence's Nick Parfitt on modular and containerised data centres and their growing impact on enterprises today.

Nick Parfitt, Lead Analyst, DCD Intelligence

Nick Parfitt, Lead Analyst at DCD Intelligence (research division of data centre B2B service provider DatacenterDynamics), took time of his busy schedule to give us a quick briefing on the current state of modular data centres, their uptake across the world and the factors driving their growing adoption across different organisation types.

Based on what you've seen in the past two years, would you say that investments in modular data centres have delivered significant returns?
Nick Parfitt:
It is possibly too early to speak of a 'significant return' in these technologies as data centre costs are increasingly worked out on a long term 'life' basis. The DCD Intelligence 2013 White Paper on modular versus traditional data centre builds indicates that the capability to save upfront and ongoing costs is the key reason for considering modular solutions. <Quoting the White Paper below>

"Organisations cite various reasons for investing in, or being attracted to, modular solutions. These include the significantly shorter timeframes required to plan and deploy a data centre. They also include reduced complexity-both in the deployment and operation of data centres-and enhanced performance thanks to a module's standardised repeatable design. Many modular vendors and some end users also refer to cost savings over traditional data centres as a key attraction of the modular model. However...the question of whether modular data centres offer cost advantages over traditional builds is more complicated than some commentators suggest. Although some end users certainly testify to the cost savings their own modular data centres have enabled over a range of traditional-build alternatives, other end users refer less to absolute cost savings, but rather the modular facility's ability to give them greater cost control. Cost control is not exclusive of cost savings. Nor however, is it the same thing. In addition to making the costs of data centre deployment more predictable, modular end users assert that the modular model gives them greater control over operational costs."

Talk about instances where running with a modular data centre is the best option, and those where it is not.
This depends on the needs of the individual organisation as well as its own analysis of the risk and return of the design and build methodology. The accuracy and robustness of the research and analysis that is conducted as part of the initial decision making process has a huge impact. This process is not likely to be limited to the means of the build but possibly include options such as outsourcing, cloud deployment, the extension or refresh of current facilities, migration and consolidation.

A data centre, whether traditional or modular in build, will have similar site requirements in terms of security, provision of power, water, staff, supplier and vendor support and authorisation (although it may be possible in some legislatures to treat a modular data centre as equipment rather than as a commercial building).


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