SBA Communications to Build New, Modular Data Center – Fast

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

We’ve written in this blog numerous times about the various benefits of a scalable, modular data center architecture, from the ability to “right-size” the data center and have it grow with the business to the cost savings that such an approach entails. (The benefits are summed up quite nicely in this post, for example.)

Robert Gonzalez, Director of IT Operations for SBA Communications Corp., is certainly on board with the concept. With the help of Schneider Electric, his company is building a new data center in Boca Raton, Fla. using a modular architecture. I caught up with him at the Schneider Electric booth at the recent Interop 2014 event and shot a quick video where he explained the project.

The data center will be about 20,000 square feet in size and Schneider Electric is delivering a “turnkey solution,” he says. “They’re bringing in everything from raised flooring to fire suppression to racks and KVMs, pretty much giving us a solution where we’re just going to move our equipment in and be ready to go.”  The company will also use Schneider Electric’s StruxureWare data center infrastructure management software to manage the data center.

SBA, whose business involves renting space to telecommunications carriers on its 24,000 cell towers in 7 countries, expects to realize another big benefit that modular data centers bring: time savings. “[The modular solution] will allow us to have the data center stood up rather quickly, within a very aggressive timeframe,” Gonzalez says.

Neil Rasmussen explained why modular data centers are faster to deploy in this blog post:

Customers can expect significant savings in time to deploy when using facility modules, just because they’re much simpler to install vs. a stick-built data center. You’ll also see substantial savings in engineering and pre-engineering normally required in the data center planning process as well as reduced time with testing cycles, because many of the components are tested in the factory. As the market matures, we expect you’ll see continued improvement in time savings, with many modules available essentially off the shelf.

In SBA’s case, the timeframe is rapid indeed. I spoke with Gonzalez on April 1, 2014 and the plan was to have the data center open in September – and he assured me that was no April Fool’s joke.

Modular data centers also allow for rapid growth, as new modules can be brought online quickly to support expanding IT requirements. That was another attraction for SBA.

“We’re a very fast paced company, we’ve grown and tripled in size,” Gonzalez says. “We don’t expect it to slow down any time soon.”

Check out the video above to see my full interview with Gonzalez.

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