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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.

There are some quoted instances where modular may be perceived as unsuitable, for example:-
* there is a reliance on high performance computing
* there is some expressed concern about being locked into a single supplier
* there is the need to ensure compatibility with existing equipment across a portfolio

Perhaps it is most important to remember that while the terms 'modular' and 'containerised' are used almost generically, there is an increasing variety of sophistication and capability with each category. Therefore the decision making needs to focus on the increasing number of options within each type.

Where currently in Asia do you see the greatest growth in investments in modular data centres?
Both modular and containerised solutions are relatively new approaches, at least in terms of offering wider availability and support. This means that the cyclical adoption and consideration trends evident in more established technologies (e.g. cooling, power, monitoring) have not yet set in.

Market trends in relation to containerised solutions indicate strong growth in Indonesia and India where the capability of a self-contained and self-sufficient 'unit' may be an advantage in difficult operating conditions. In Australia, growth can be linked to the use in remote locations. There is evidence also of the deployment of containerised solutions in 'embryonic' markets like Cambodia and Myanmar.

Market trends in relation to modular data centre solutions indicate strong growth across all markets with the exception of Singapore and Malaysia, where a very high level of interest in 2012 to 2013 has now returned to more average levels. 

High levels of uptake in Indonesia and India are due to the capability of a self-contained and self-sufficient 'unit' to withstand difficult and variable operating conditions. These are both markets where levels of concern about power stability are very high. In Australia, growth can be linked to use in remote locations.

What are the greatest challenges faced by IT departments looking to move into modular data centres today?
As per my response to question 2), it is ensuring that whatever option is adopted meets organisational requirements in an era where there is far greater dependence and risk associated with IT. There may be also some preference based on traditional practices, which can make justifying new practices more challenging. There may also be some clarification required on the standards and technologies available and the portability of these options.

Considering the current market and the offerings available today, what advice would you give organisations that see the potential value of modular data centres and want to start investing in it?
One: Use the strategic IT requirements of your organisation as the yardstick for the adoption of the right technology.

Two: Factor in all of the costs along the entire data centre lifecycle ('TCO') that have to do with planning, designing and running a new data centre, including site costs, hardware and software purchase, build costs, ongoing costs of energy, staffing, security, taxes, maintenance and repair, as well as decommissioning costs.


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