Data Center

Modular Data Centers Can Help You Stop “Stranding Capital”

When the CTO of a big financial firm tells you something is a good investment, it likely pays (literally) to listen.

That’s what Matthew Tavares was doing yesterday as Frank Lucas was speaking on a panel called “Drivers and Barriers to Modular Data Center Deployment” at the Uptime Institute Symposium 2012 event in Santa Clara, Calif. Lucas is Managing Director and Global Chief Technology Officer for Devonshire Investors, the private investment firm affiliated with FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments. Tavares, who is global solution manager for Schneider Electric’s Facility Module offer, said Lucas had an interesting perspective on the topic.

“He made the point that if you don’t grow smart and manage your capex and opex effectively, you won’t be competitive in your industry and you may not be in your industry much longer,” Tavares says. Modular, containerized data centers help on both fronts, he says, by allowing companies to build data centers that are right-sized for the IT load they need initially, then grow them over time as needs change.

The traditional thinking with respect to data centers is to build it to meet what you expect your future requirements will be. But doing that means you’re spending a lot of capital up front on a building that is larger than it needs to be. “You’re tying up all kinds of capital and not utilizing it,” Tavares says, noting Lucas called it “stranded capital.”

Of course those ideas are nothing new to Schneider Electric, which has been at the forefront of modular, containerized data centers. But Tavares says it was good to hear someone like Lucas confirm the cost benefits.

Other benefits of modular data centers cited by panelists include repeatability and rapid deployment. Repeatability speaks to the idea that modular data centers use many standard components and are built the same way time and again, making them simpler to deploy. That’s one reason Lucas expects the idea to flourish first in developing countries, where many companies may not have in-house engineering teams that can take on data center construction projects.

And there was much agreement that hybrid data center designs would dominate, Tavares says. That’s where the power and cooling modules are located outside of the building while IT equipment remains inside.

As for barriers, the two biggest that panelists noted were that the data center industry tends to be risk averse, with good reason. Given that, it’ll take time to educate the market on the technology so that customers understand the benefits. True enough, and that’s one of the reasons Schneider Electric launched this blog and writes white papers on various data center topics.

Customers also need help in understanding the architecture and financial models around modular data centers, panelists said. Once again, we’re here to help. Check out the Schneider Electric white paper, Containerized Power and Cooling Modules for Data Centers, which explains why standardized, pre-assembled and integrated data center facility power and cooling modules are at least 60% faster to deploy, and provide a first cost savings of 13% or more compared to traditional data center power and cooling infrastructure.

We think it’ll help you make a pretty good argument against “stranding capital.”


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