Philippe Diez is VP of Schneider Electric France and Europe Cluster. While I was at Data Centres Europe 2013 in Nice, I asked him about some of the ideas that Schneider Electric has been pioneering in data center infrastructure. How, for example, are ideas like Modularity and Standardization being accepted by those designing and operating today’s data centers?
Philippe answered, “Well thanks Damien for the question. So I think yes one of the great learnings of this event is that a lot of the innovations that Schneider Electric have brought to the market in the last couple of years, and especially in the last year, are becoming mainstream now. So these days you hear a lot about what we said coming out of other people’s mouths – partners, customers, even our competition at this event! So I think we are constantly getting in fact a lot of the fundamental rules right to build efficient data center for cloud services. So that to me is a good learning of this event, and it proves lot about Schneider Electric innovation – we are the right ones!”
There is a growing consensus that conventional legacy data center design will be superseded by modular scalable data center designs. Reduced total cost of ownership, increased flexibility, reduced deployment time, and improved efficiency are all claimed benefits of modular scalable designs – what’s more, the benefits of the modular approach have been already proven in manufacturing segments such as the automotive industry. However, currently no consensus has been reached as far as what the terms module, modular or modularity mean for data center architecture.
Modularity is loosely defined as a technique that builds large systems out of smaller subsystems, where the subsystems have well defined rules for interfacing to each other. Modularity also suggests a simplified approach to installation or replacement, ideally with “plug in” of modular elements that require simplified commissioning. However, The Green Grid, for example, had quickly associated the term modular to containerization, producing a guide in late 2011. So I asked Philippe if the increased interest in modularity simply meant we were going to see more “containerized” data centers?
Philippe said, “Yes I think also among these many ideas modularity is clearly one of the key word, modularity in the IT space of course, but also in the facilities so I think we see that already in the market, with a lot of requests but it is clearly very clear here in this event that containerized solutions are becoming not only of interest but now people are really curious about it and they ask for RFP’s and things are becoming real.”
In “Specification of Modular Data Center Architecture” (a white paper by Neil Rasmussen, Senior VP of Innovation at Schneider Electric), specification methods are described which are well suited for all kinds of data centers, including those based on IT containers, skid-mounted equipment, modular power and cooling plants as well as other form factors. Furthermore, data centers using mixed approaches can be readily and very effectively defined using modular techniques. The White Paper can be downloaded at no charge, from Schneider Electric’s website.