Save Time and Money with Data Center Facility Modules

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Adequate power and cooling equipment is critical to the everyday functioning and long-term reliability of a data center.

But sometimes enterprises are faced with the need to add more power and cooling equipment. The traditional approach to expanding a data center’s power and cooling infrastructure is to treat it as a unique project, with customized engineering and all assembly, installation and integration being done at the data center facility.

Not surprisingly, this “customized” approach — which often includes building an extension room adjacent to the existing data center – can be extremely costly and time-consuming.

A more cost-effective way to expand a data center’s power and cooling infrastructure is to use “facility modules,” which are physical infrastructure systems delivered as completed, pre-tested plug-in units.

By using facility modules, data center managers can save 60% in deployment speed, 22% in initial costs and 18% of total cost of ownership (TCO) versus a traditional power and cooling infrastructure expansion project.

In cases where the data center is overbuilt in capacity and supported by traditional power and cooling systems and controls, the TCO of using facility modules for infrastructure expansion can exceed 30%.

The greatest savings from deploying facility modules in the data center physical infrastructure come in the design/field installation phase and in lower energy costs down the road.


A customized power and cooling infrastructure expansion project necessitates a “construction” approach requiring the successful completing of numerous steps before installation can even begin:

  • Schematic design
  • Design development
  • Construction documents
  • Bidding/negotiating for parts
  • Acquisition of components
  • Construction

And do you know who is responsible for the completion of those pre-installation steps? The data center owner!

The data center owner opting for a customized, “on-site” build must:

  1. Ensure the integration of disparate components from multiple vendors into a unique facility
  2. Coordinate multiple vendor and service timelines, and
  3. Troubleshoot problems as they arise.

But with facility modules, those steps are the responsibility of the module vendor. The facility modules are designed and tested in a research and development environment so they are ready to be “plugged in” to a data center.

This allows the data center team to adopt a “site integration” (as opposed to a “construction”) mindset, making the focus all about ensuring the system works holistically.

Then there’s the savings on “bricks and mortar” costs. How much an enterprise spends on data center infrastructure construction and expansion depends on a number of factors, but at a typical cost of $100 to $150 per square foot, a new 30-foot-by-20-foot room could cost up to $90,000. And that’s just for the room.

Construction also might mean the disruption of other activities near the data center, another potential (if not entirely calculable) cost.

The one area where facility modules cost more than customized projects is in material costs, which include not only the physical gear comprising the power and cooling equipment – switchgear, chiller, pumps, filters, lighting, etc. – but also the container shell and the cost of preassembling and integrating the module.

Lower energy costs

Enterprises tend to overbuild data centers because of concerns about performance and capacity. One consequence of this “err on the side of caution” approach is excessive energy costs. APC by Schneider Electric estimates that traditional mechanical and electric rooms consume 37% more energy than comparable facility modules.

A related energy-cost advantage of facility modules is that their pre-engineered design allows for better integration of power and cooling system controls.

Traditional data center controls can be complex and poorly integrated, leading to unnecessary energy costs because elements of the system aren’t working together.

With facility modules, however, Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is predictable because the equipment has been pre-tested and the controls coordinated by the manufacturer.

To learn more about data center facility modules, check out the APC by Schneider Electric white paper, Containerized Power and Cooling Modules for Data Centers.

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