Modular Data Center Due Diligence

This is the fifth article in the Data Center Knowledge Guide to Modular Data Centers series. Modular solutions can benefit a variety of businesses and requirements — but not all. Similar to any data center project, proper planning is paramount. While predicting future IT requirements can be more guessing than science, it is still a vital part of the larger strategy. Investigating a modular approach means optimizing your research and making that perfect fit for realizing your objectives. Here are some items to consider when investigating modular products or providers.

Modular Products
• Is the product UL and/or CE certified? What local or state codes may be applicable to bringing this type of device to your site?
• Will you need additional protection for the module? While many of the modular solutions are able to withstand a great deal of outside conditions, there are security factors to consider as well as how to optimally fit the modules into the structure or site you have.
• On-site integration — can your facility/site accommodate modules and the overall power requirements?
• What voltage distribution is required to the module and how will you provide it?
• Do you require true mobility in a modular solution?
• Does disaster recovery play a major role within your organization?
• Integrated modular data center or separate power and cooling modules?

Modular Providers
• Where do you need the modular solution provided? On-site, dedicated site or colocated with the provider?
• What integration options are available to manage and automate IT and infrastructure within the module?
• What type of monitoring and security is required?
• What data needs to be collected and reported?
• Are you providing some type of distributed cloud solution?
• Does the modular solution have a solid DCIM or DCOS option capable of spanning multiple data center modules?
• Are there provisions for future management technologies such as DCOS?

In both approaches the foundational data for eval-uation is power. Match the IT needs and forecasts for power consumption with the right-sized modular implementation in 100 – 500kW increments. Additionally any energy efficiency or environmental guidelines for the organization should be followed. Invite facilities, IT and all pertinent parties to the table to select the best fit for a holistic, optimized data center strategy.

To Summarize this article series, in some regards the decision about modular mirrors that of build vs. buy. The choice is to put a lot of up-front capital into constructing a facility that you estimate will fulfill IT requirements for the next decade or so, or to build (and expense) modularly in increments that will match IT needs in years to come. Similarly there are cost analysis exercises to look at between the operational costs of running a large facility with matching infrastructure, or the cost per module or modules deployed and the efficiencies in both. Modular data centers are somewhat of a disruptor to the traditional build vs. buy decision, as it offers an alternative approach to building that can save significant capital expense and operational expense over the constructed data center.

Although modular data center solutions are relatively new; cloud computing and the power of distributed technologies have made this type of platform a viable option. Managers are able to quickly understand the cost of a solution and deploy a data center which can directly integrate with the needs of the organization. Second generation modular designs are purpose built around today’s IT 2.0 environment.

While modular solutions are increasingly taking market share, they are still not a perfect fit for every need. Like all other aspects of a data center strategy, it requires knowing what IT needs are now and in the future, and what the specific requirements are for efficiently optimizing the sup¬porting data center infrastructure. In many cases the modular product or provider are a perfect fit for a retrofit, expansion or new data center project. Finding the right modular solution means knowing which one will benefit your needs the best. Taking a modular approach toward data center design is an innovative way to tightly integrate IT and facilities, and deliver it with extreme agility.

The complete Data Center Knowledge Guide to Modular Data Centers is available for download in a PDF format and brought to you by IO. Click here to download the DCK Guide to Modular Data Centers.

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About the Author

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. His architecture work includes virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, Bill works as the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, CT based consulting firm.

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