The market for prefabricated, modular data centers is heating up, to say the least. In a session at the Uptime Institute Symposium 2012 event this week in Santa Clara, industry expert Jason Schafer said the market would reach $2.4 billion by 2015, growing more than five fold from the 2011 figure of $460 million.
Schafer, who is Senior Analyst for Datacenters at Tier1 Research and a member of the Datacenter Technologies group at The 451 Group, presented his numbers during a session titled, “Prefabricated, Modular Data Centers: The State of the Union.”
Matthew Tavares, global solution manager for Schneider Electric’s Facility Module offer, attended the session and said the main market drivers for that growth are the same ones touted by other speakers at the event, for the most part. They include financial benefits in terms of both capex and opex, which we covered in a previous post, along with speed of delivery and deployment, energy efficiency and reliability.
Reliability is a benefit of modular, containerized data centers that is perhaps not mentioned enough. While everyone expects their data center to be reliable, modular systems have a leg up on that front vs. data centers constructed in the field for at least a couple of reasons, Tavares says.
“For one, you’re building and testing the systems in the factory as opposed to in the field,” he says. Clearly, a lot less can go wrong in a controlled factory environment, with workers who do the job day in and day out, as opposed to trying to piece components together on site.
Which gets to the second reason: repetition. “As you standardize these designs, you get repetition,” Tavares says. “The more you build things the same way, using standard components and processes, you increase reliability as compared to one-off data centers constructed in the field that are always unique.”
Benefits including reliability also have more customers interested in the modular approach these days, according to Schafer. About 9% of respondents to a survey his company conducted have already deployed a modular data center and another 8% plan to. Those figures are roughly double from a similar survey a year ago, which put both figures at 4% to 5%. Another 41% are considering the technology but don’t have immediate plans.
Given the benefits to be had, we expect those plans will develop.