Schneider Targets Modular Power and Cooling

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Neil Rasmussen of APC by Schneider says modular power and cooling will make traditional brick-and-mortar data center mechanical systems "obsolete" in coming years

Schneider Electric is jumping into the modular movement with both feet. Today the company is introducing new modular power and cooling products, reflecting the growing momentum for standardized, factory-built equipment designs that promise faster and cheaper deployment of data center space.

Schneider doesn’t view the market as tied to adoption of IT containers and  modules, either, according to Neil Rasmussen, the Vice President of Innovation at Schneider Electric.

“Modular power and cooling is suitable for every implementation, including traditional data centers, and will soon make other forms obsolete,” Rasmussen said in his keynote at The Uptime Symposium in Santa Clara, Calif. “In five years you may still see some data centers built in the traditional way, but there will be a lot fewer of them.”

Schneider’s new offerings include a power module that can provide UPS support, and will join Schneider’s cooling modules:

  • The Chilled Water Cooling Module, announced today, consists of six modular chillers, two economizers and a fully integrated pump house, providing a comprehensive cooling solutions.
  • Schneider’s EcoBreeze chilled air cooling module, introduced last December, implements adaptable cooling based on environmental conditions and automatically selects either indirect evaporative cooling or air-to-air heat exchange, depending on external environments.

Portable power and chiller modules are already available from other vendors, including competitors like Emerson Network Power, Actve Power and MultiStack. But given Schneider’s large customer base, the company’s new focus on modular deployment is likely to further raise awareness of modular facility design.

“Most of the supply chain in the data center industry is continuing to support the old designs,” said Rasmussen. “Modularity in and of itself is not a great benefit. But modularity is an enabler of standardization.”

The new modular data center architecture features facility modules that can scale in increments of 500kW to match current and future data center requirements.

Useful in Expansion Projects

“This approach will have lower cost and better performance,” said Rasmussen, who said the most effective use case may be in “overlays” that provide expansion power for existing data centers that have maxed out their utility power capacity. “These modular approaches are just as effective for indoor approaches and overlays.”

Rasmussen noted that some in the industry will continue to insist that traditional brick-and-mortar designs can be just as effective as modular deployments, particularly in cost efficiency.

“If you’re good, you can swim with an anvil around your neck, but there’s an easier way,” said Rasmussen.  “We believe this approcch is going to be a lot cheaper.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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