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Micro Data Centers: What’s Big is Small

If you read any data center industry news today you are likely to come across the term “micro data center.” The question you might ask is: What is a micro data center?

If you search the Internet, you will come up with all kinds of references to micro data centers and, if you ask 10 different people, you are likely to get 10 different answers.

A dictionary definition of the term micro is described as: small scale or small in comparison with others of others of its kind. Okay, so how small is small?

Small is Subjective

The use of term micro ought to be a clue. The trouble is what is small to one person may be big to another person. For example, the Internet/tech giants are building facilities that are 50-100 megawatts in capacity. To them, a 1-megawatt data center would be viewed as small but does that equate to micro? Not likely.

Some people are using the term “micro-modular” data center. This seems to reference a data center, which is contained in a prefabricated box and dropped in the middle of the desert or some other remote location.

Other people are using micro data center to refer to the deployment of a small data center environment within a commercial office building. This has the look and feel of a traditional data center, but it is deployed on a small scale.

When I hear the term micro data center, I don’t just think of physical size. I also think about the amount of IT equipment that can be supported in terms of KW capacity. So what is the KW capacity of a micro data center? That will obviously depend on whose product you look at.

Establishing a Definition

Unfortunately, there has been no established unit of measurement or definition of a micro data center; well, that is, until now…

Schneider Electric has defined a micro data center as being a self-contained, secure computing environment that includes all the storage, processing and networking required to run the customer’s applications.

Micro data centers are assembled and tested in a factory environment and ship in single enclosure that includes all necessary power, cooling, security and associated management tools (DCIM).

Schneider Electric believes that micro data centers consisting of 1-10 IT racks are needed to serve an emerging micro data center market, which is looking for solutions that are fast to deploy and are suitable for a broad base of applications requiring low latency and/or high bandwidth.

The bottom line, a micro data center can come in various sizes and form factors, and they can be deployed in office environments or in outdoor applications. They are designed to minimize capital outlay, reduce footprint and energy consumption and increase speed of deployment.

In my next blog I will look at what is driving this new micro data center trend.

Learn more about micro data centers solutions by Schneider Electric.