Is a Containerized/Modular Data Center in Your Future?

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Imagine your growing company suddenly needs some significant new data processing capability. And you’re being tapped to produce—out of thin air—a powerful new data center that has all the capacity, efficiency and security your organization needs. And, just to make things really interesting, you don’t have much time, money or space to work with. Sound familiar?

Well, IT managers and engineers facing this dilemma have recently found a very viable solution in the Containerized/Modular Data Center Facility, or CMDF.  Unlike traditional site-constructed data centers that can require months (or even years) and a small fortune to construct, the CMDF is pre-built from a set of modular, flexible and rapidly deployable solutions that not only include containerized platforms, but also modular, pre-engineered and prefabricated ‘building blocks’. When deployed with the requisite mechanical, electrical and related ancillary services, these building blocks deliver a complete data center facility in much less time, with far less cost and effort than traditional, site-constructed data centers.

In recent years, through a variety of successful point applications, CMDFs have been optimized such that they are now providing a reliable and cost-effective solution in a broad variety of applications.

There’s a very good chance that the CMDF is heading your way.  And here’s a great way to get the lowdown on this trend that is transforming the data center industry. The Green Grid (—an international, non-profit consortium of businesses and thought-leaders working to enhance data center efficiency—recently published an interesting white paper that provides a complete framework for the Containerized/Modular Data Center Facility. This paper clearly details the critical considerations of this important transformation in the data center industry by comparing and contrasting the traditional data center requirements with those of the CMDF, and they explaining how the containerized data center provides the very same capability, yet in a much smaller and more flexible footprint.

The modular approach—seemingly novel in the data center industry—has actually been employed in a number of point applications. For instance, some operators have used them for housing telecommunication equipment and mobile command stations, with the payload is deployed within prefab shelters, trucks, or shipping containers that are compliant with ISO specifications. Other applications have been popular in logistics-sensitive areas (read government and military bodies), where the CMDF needs to be set up in remote locations without the benefit of traditional construction approaches. As well, the containerized data center facility has been popular with some manufacturing industries, where speed of deployment, componentization and repeatability are key advantages. 

As noted in the Green Grid white paper, the potential benefits of CMDFs are interesting, to say the least:

  1. Faster deployment.
  2. Lower operating and capital costs.
  3. Higher density and energy-savings targets.
  4. Ability to adjust capacity up and down in smaller, prescribed steps rather than in large jumps.
  5. Cycle new IT and facility technologies into production faster and easier, while cycling out older, less cost-effective solutions.

As with any cutting edge technology solution, there are certain caveats that should be taken into consideration regarding the planning, design, deployment, operation, and decommissioning phases of the CMDF’s lifecycle. The good news: this Green Grid white paper outlines many of these caveats, so you’re well aware of any pratfalls before you even consider deploying a CMDF.

No doubt, the concept of a Containerized/Modular Data Center Facility is very exciting on a number of fronts.  Chances are, you have a lot of questions, many of which can be answered in the Green Grid white paper: Deploying and Using Containerized Data Center Facilities. Or, perhaps you have experience with CMDFs that you’d like to share with your peers? Please let us know—we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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