A new way to think about data center design: Optimizing your data center like a box of Legos

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Did you know that Lego still maintains approximately 70 percent of the construction-toy market since it began manufacturing stackable bricks in 1949?  Hearing about this, I asked myself why some competitor isn’t able to compete with Legos’ toy brick brand, but the answer is simple.  Lego pays astonishingly close attention to detail.  Inside of every Lego brick are three numbers which identify exactly what mold each brick came from.  Using this method, Legos’ close attention to detail ensures that there is never a single Lego piece that could not fit together with another.













This is the idea employed in Schneider Electric’s newest reference design—Reference Design #21.

Schneider Electric is always seeking innovative and adaptable design solutions that help provide relief from the common pitfalls and high costs of data center builds and/or expansions.  Reference Design #21, the newest addition to our comprehensive Reference Design Library, will provide data center owners – from colocation, cloud/ hosting, multi-tenant data centers to enterprise data centers – the flexibility and customization needed to meet cost and speed to market challenges.

Many data center businesses have a need to grow, but fear speculative build or lack capital to take the next step.  With Reference Design #21, we’re sure that its ultra flexible design approach will position your business to grow quickly without excessive capital overlay or overbuild.  One size does not fit all, so we realize that you’re looking for flexible solutions in everything that you do.  When you buy a box of Legos, there may be instructions on how to build a race car, but really there’s nothing stopping you from building any other sort of car.  Reference Design #21 is customizable in the same way—the different inputs you put into the model will create different outputs.

Developed by Schneider Electric’s Data Center Service Provider team, this ultra flexible reference design utilizes modular building blocks, easily scalable from 200kW to 3.6MW (or more) of capacity, that can be implemented in a piecemeal fashion.  Ultimately, the data center is a purpose-built facility composed of prefabricated power and cooling modules joined with an IT space.  Given the flexible architecture behind the design, like Legos, the data center can be easily re-configured.  Without difficulty, your data center can be designed to support a range of densities, build methods, tier levels, cooling architectures, and capacity ranges.

Ultimately, this design can be easily configured to provide flexible data hall and IT rack design layouts including on slab, traditional raised floor, and prefab. Data center managers looking to optimize deployment speed, performance, reliability, and cost have a pre-engineered reference point to realize significant improvements in:

  • Flexibility and Scalability – Various module options and configurations, applicable to greenfield and brownfield data centers, enable the infrastructure to be deployed and scaled as necessary to meet demand. In comparison, when you buy a set of Legos, no one set is exclusive.  Whether you’re building from new, or building off of one of Legos’ earliest released sets, old and new blocks are able to fit and work together efficiently.
  • Speed of Deployment – Simplified building design options, like a Legos build manual, reduce complexity while streamlined pricing tools provide the ability to make informed decisions quickly.
  • Decreased Costs – Capital spending reductions result from the ability to right-size the data center as needed. Just as it’s easy to reconfigure the pieces of a Lego design, this design eliminates complicated new construction or expensive building retrofits.
  • Predictability – Prefabrication and factory testing reduces human error and on-site construction risks while improving compliance, safety, and efficiency. When you by a Lego set, you know what you’re going to get. Similarly, design and manufacturing are closely coupled to greatly minimize uncertainty, which results in more predictable performance of the data center infrastructure.

For decades, Lego has remained ahead of the market curve by producing millions of plastic blocks that all fit together.  With a similar go-to-market strategy, Reference Design #21 let’s you decide what works best for your data center requirements.

Whether you’re planning a new build, retrofit, or expansion on an existing facility, the flexibility of the power skids and IT pods detailed in Reference Design #21 allows for a range of configurations to be tailored to meet future needs.

For more information on Schneider Electric’s Reference Design #21 or our Data Center Service Provider Team, please visit our microsite.

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