Get Up to Speed on Data Center Facility Modules at Energy University

Schneider Electric has long been bullish on the concept of data center facility modules, and with good reason. They are faster to deploy than traditional data center build-outs and deliver significant cost savings both up front and over time.

These are issues we’ve covered in the blog before, such as in this post from Wendy Torell, where she dives into the 13% up front savings that facility modules deliver and the 30% savings in total cost of ownership over time. We’ve also got white papers on the topic, including number 163, “Containerized Power and Cooling Modules for Data Centers.”

Clearly this is a topic that customers need to educate themselves on and now you’ve got another way to do just that, through the free online Schneider Electric Energy University course, “Power and Cooling Facility Modules for Data Centers.”

Facility modules are prefabricated modules that address some aspect of data center infrastructure, typically power, cooling or both. They can be delivered in a shipping container, built on a skid or delivered in multiple form factors for modular buildings. The course compares facility modules to the traditional method of building data centers, which is defined as the “stick built” approach, meaning all the components are built out in the data center building, involving custom engineering and significant onsite work.

The Energy University course, which takes less than an hour to complete, is intended to help customers who have to deploy new data center power and/or cooling infrastructure decide whether it’s better to use facility modules or the traditional approach.  As such, it goes through many of the cost savings you can expect with facility modules in areas including design, installation and energy. But it’s also clear about where facility modules will cost more. That includes up front hardware and software costs, which are about 40% higher because of the cost of additional materials (such as the container itself) and the cost of pre-assembling and integrating all the hardware, software and controls.

But cost isn’t the only reason to consider facility modules. The course goes through additional advantages, including:

  • Predictable efficiency based on predefined customer specification
  • Portability, which allows a company to more easily move data center infrastructure from one facility to another, such as after a lease runs out.
  • Hedge against uncertainty regarding future growth; you can right size now and scale up later if need be.
  • Speed of deployment is greatly increased, as data centers built with facility modules can be deployed in half the time as compared to the traditional approach.
  • Simplified training for data center staff because the modules are standardized with a system-level interface.

Given that the course is intended to help customers decide whether facility modules make sense for them, it also goes into some potential drawbacks of the approach. They include distance issues, physical risks such as exposure to outside elements, form factor restrictions with respect to size and weight and human ergonomics for data center staff.

The course goes on to provide a number of photographs of different types of facility modules, which helps customers visualize what they look like. It also goes into some depth on what’s included in various modules, including a power module and various types of cooling modules.

Finally, the course covers typical applications where facility modules make sense, including colocation facilities, data centers that are out of power and cooling capacity or physical space, and new facilities with tight time constraints.

If a new data center is in your future, or even an expansion or redesign, do yourself a favor and check out the free online Energy University course, “Power and Cooling Facility Modules for Data Centers.” You’ll find it in the College of Data Centers at Energy University.

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