Speed is a relative thing; what’s fast today may not be fast tomorrow. I remember my first Intel386 PC could connect to the internet and download a single low resolution picture in less than 5 minutes! For data centers, you see examples of large projects that can take relatively short amounts of time – say one year, and others like the US Social Security Administration data center, which was originally scoped as a 5-year project, is now taking significantly longer than that. I only hope that when I am ready to start receiving social security checks, the new data center is finished and on-line.
So what are the main drivers that take time in data center projects that can be reduced with prefabricated data center modules and reference designs?
Design and Engineering – With prefabrication, you can employ a large team of engineers to do an innovative and thorough job on the base building blocks, and this time is already “sunk”, which means you will not have to see it. The base building block module designs are used as the basis for custom modules, over and over again, dramatically cutting down the engineering time. When designing a data center system, think about the thousands of decisions and design efforts to make, which could be reduced because you are designing the data center from a higher level of building blocks instead of individual components.
Factory vs. Field Manufacturing – Assembly in a controlled environment with skilled personnel and defined processes with assembly instructions will clearly have speed advantages.
Construction – Construction for prefabrication is typically limited to connection to utility and water sources, as well as connection of the building blocks.
Testing – As much is done in the factory with automated tools and processes, testing time is reduced.
Installation – Once the construction has taken place for the connections, installation is now just a sequence of hooking up the building blocks to each other and fuel sources.
Commissioning – Depending on the granularity, this phase can have significant time savings or none at all.
Not quite as fast as the speed of light, 299,792,458 meters per second, or even as fast as the speed of sound, 340.29 meters per second, prefabricated modular data centers are faster to deploy than traditional stick-built data centers. Requiring less decisions in the planning and design phases, delivery of these modules is typically 12 to 16 weeks, from PO to ship.