Uptime Institute Event Puts Focus on Modular, Containerized Data Centers

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The Uptime Institute Symposium 2012 is going on this week in Santa Clara, Calif., and a special focus at the event is modular, pre-fabricated and containerized data centers. The Institute is calling it “Data Center 2.0—The Modular Transformation and the Modular Data Center Campus.”

As we’ve covered previously, Schneider Electric has significant experience in modular data center equipment so it’s no coincidence that the company also has a significant presence at the event. To see how the event is shaping up I checked in with Matthew Tavares, Global Manager of the Data Center Offering for Schneider Electric, who is on site in Santa Clara.

From his conversations with attendees, Tavares says he’s seeing an evolution of the discussion around modular data centers. “Last year the discussion was, ‘What is a module?’ People were just trying to understand the specifics,” he says. This year, attendees seem to grasp concept but want to take a deeper dive into issues such as how the architecture works and what the cost models are. “That’s a progression,” he says.

Most of the folks coming by the Schneider Electric booth are from large enterprises and colocation service providers, including Oracle and AOL, he says. “They have questions on cooling plant, electrical and IT equipment, like ‘Do I have to have IT containers outside or can I bring the modules inside?’”

To answer the question, Tavares merely has to point across the floor to where Schneider Electric’s partner Digital Realty is displaying a 2MW modular power system on a skid. “People tend to think it all has to be outside in a container, but it doesn’t have to be,” he says. “It can be on a skid or in a prefab enclosure.”

Tavares has also been explaining to attendees that other Schneider Electric business units have been selling outdoor, modular electrical substations for years. The containerized data center systems are really just an extension of those earlier systems. “Modularity isn’t something new. It’s been going on a long time,” he says. “We’re just tweaking it for a data center environment, putting in a UPS and software and management. That goes over well with people.”

We’ll be checking in with Tavares periodically for more from the event, which runs through May 17, so stay tuned.

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