Data center discussion part IV: the biggest reason to go modular is cost

The conclusion of the discussion asks what is stopping the widespread adoption of modular solutions and how can cautious CIOs be convinced of the benefits

21 November 2011 by Ambrose McNevin - DatacenterDynamics

Data center discussion part IV: the biggest reason to go modular is cost
George Slessman

The concluding part of the industry debate on modularity. See the previous installment to the discussion, Part III, here

PETER GROSS ASKS: In terms of power and cooling, what are in your opinion the best suited technologies for the modular, pre-fabricated solutions?

Guy Ruddock Answers:

The real core of this question is in fact the reverse, specifically what you can not use!

All of the usual suspects work just fine, free and fresh air cooling being the most obvious, with dx or chilled water backup probably the most common.As a strategy adiabatic requires great care, you never get something for nothing and with careful engineering this environmentally dubious technique is unnecessary.

We should not ignore some of the more unusual approaches either, ground water and river or industrial water cooling all of which we have used in the past work just fine.

Power tends to be more mainstream (for those modular builders who supply it with their product) but even here the form of the equipment is likely to change-monolithic switchboards are ripe for change.

As for ups and generation, fuel cells may finally get the power high enough to meet the reduced requirements and that could see the advent of the mechanically driven ups units, probably flywheels, again as the power needed to maintain the facilities reduce.

In short, any flavour but be prepared for change.

George Slessman Answers:

Today, due to practical constraints, it is difficult to move away from systems that can provide for a targeted service level objective of 100%. Currently, the best technology for cooling is still a chilled water solution utilizing hydronic economization and modified air-to-air economization to drive system efficiency. Currently, on the power systems side, online UPS’s continue to be the best tool for energy conditioning utilizing chemical and kinetic energy storage. But the best solutions for modular data center cooling and energy power systems are still in the laboratory today — so stay tuned. With the standardization of data center hardware provided by the modular approach and application integration provided by advanced DCIM tools, the traditional tools must transform, and soon.

GEORGE SLESSMAN ASKS: What have you seen as the single most common reason (right now) for Enterprises to consider and adopt data center 2.0 technology?

Guy Ruddock Answers:

Although there are a fair few flavours running through our customers with respect to reasons for considering a modular data center and in truth many of these objectives overlap somewhat, the one piece of the commercial jigsaw that always comes up is the fact that the risk of the decision is much lower than any other method of data center provision.

Standing in a data center that looks identical to the one you want proves it works (if that is the concern). Seeing one installed in the timeframe quoted proves it can be delivered, likewise the costs are fixed at the start... and so on.

In effect, the risk reduction allows the CIO to claw back control of the data center implementation — a fixed scope, schedule and budget; minute change control provision and a clear understanding of the commercial benefit. From the CIOs perspective, a simple solution to a rats nest of issues.

Peter Gross Answers:

The three main reasons used to justify solutions based on data center 2.0 technology are speed of delivery, exibility and scalability. However, I believe that the strongest underlining argument is cost. A traditional highend 2 MW data center cost approaches $50m (since economies of scale work well in this space, the cost per MW for large facilities is significantly lower).

This is the reason the vast majority of small and medium-size data centers (less than 5MW of critical load) are headed to colocation facilities. In today’s economic environment, while the cost of hardware continues to decline, the incessant cost escalation of the facilities is not sustainable-a new approach is needed and the modular, pre-fabricated solution could very well be the answer. High energy efficiency, multi-tier and ability to provide different density zones are also attractive attributes.

This is the conculsion of the DatacenterDiscussion


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