The growing demand for data center space, coupled in many cases with pressure to get it built quickly, is forcing the industry to re-examine how these centers can be developed and activated faster than ever. As a result, the facilities industry is increasingly taking a new design approach to data centers — modularity. And thanks to factory-assembled components, it is an option for almost any type of data center on the boards — from mini centers to Tier 4 electrical and mechanical infrastructure.
Prefabrication has its advantages. Quality can be strictly monitored, and there’s no worry about weather hampering construction efforts. Construction can be achieved in weeks instead of a year or more needed for “stick-built, on-site” construction. Modular construction also gives data centers the ability to remain flexible in design, with the ability to quickly upgrade in response to changing technology. What’s more, it can reduce capital outlay — a critical consideration in today’s still-tight economy.
Modular data center options range from small, “data-center-in-a-shipping-container” designs to projects as massive as an off-site chiller plant constructed for a high-demand, Tier 4 center. As rapid growth demands, these centers need to be constructed and operational sometimes within weeks. This massive effort may best be achieved using the assembly line approach of a modular data center.
In one modular construction success story, a company opted to use a factory-built, container solution to rapidly build a new data center. It took less than two months from the time the company took possession of the building until it activated its first customer in the 800,000-square-foot location — an exceptionally rapid turnaround, even for the technology industry.
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