Four Things Colos Should Consider When Evaluating Modular Construction Solutions

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This is part one of a three-part series by Stephen Madaffari, Principal of Data Centers Delivered, on how various sectors of the business serving the data center industry can effectively partner with modular data center construction companies to achieve success. He previously contributed this article, Four Reasons to Build Data Center Capacity Off-Site.

Stephen MadaffariSTEPHEN MADAFFARI
Data Centers Delivered

Trends in modularizing data centers have varied vastly over the last few years–mostly due to the fact that the term “modular” can be interpreted in many different ways by the data center industry. As a result, some companies, and specifically colos, struggle when trying to define their own level of modularity, and assess if, when, and how to partner with an offsite modular data center builder.

If you are a colo and looking to partner with a modular data center construction company, there are a few simple steps to consider.

What Does Modular Mean?

First, and most important, discuss, debate and determine what going modular means for your business. What business outcome will it help achieve? It’s difficult to implement modularity if data center managers are not sure at what level it’s beneficial to their operations–and there are many depending on the business model of the colo. For example, unit-level modularity (i.e. server or UPS) might work better for retail clients looking to drive a minimal amount of deployment rather than infrastructure modularity (i.e. fully prefabricated electrical or mechanical systems) more suited for wholesale colo clients.

Assess Your Existing Infrastructure

Second, assess which parts of your data center infrastructure make sense to modularize. Mechanical systems? Electrical systems? White space? Successful modularization is based on the ability to: 1) customize a repeatable infrastructure design and 2) associate the construction process with these key data center elements and deliver them in smaller pieces to accomplish a common goal.

Determine Your Requirements

Third, what does your data center system need to look like? What are its requirements? Engage in design consultation meetings to derive system architecture specifications. Incorporating those findings into modularized deployment plans is a vital part of the pre-construction process when a colo is looking to partner with an off-site modular data center builder such as Data Centers Delivered.

Thoroughly Vet Your Partner

Finally, research, evaluate and identify the modular data center construction company to partner with for build. The process of designing and building customized modular infrastructure can be complicated. and your decision should be considered and based upon the builder’s previous experience and record of reliability and safety. Further, it’s mutually beneficial for a colo to partner with a company that designs and builds all of the data center infrastructure needed in one place, including: structural, electrical, piping/mechanical, raised floor and multiple wall systems, among others.

Keeping all design and construction under one roof allows for a low-risk build process to take place within a predictable time frame that ultimately delivers multiple production benefits and cost efficiencies now and in the future. Also, be sure to confirm the builder’s final product achieves all standards and guidelines for construction certification levels required of factory built data center solutions. For example, a product labeled with the “ETL Listed Mark” gives the client a level of confidence that all components are being built in accordance with nationally recognized standards.

A Growing Marketplace for Modular

Modularizing infrastructure to support the data center is growing fast due to the systematic off-site modular construction considerations and advantages discussed above. The future is bright for modular build companies that colos can truly embrace and trust when defining their own modular deployments and implementing them in a fashion that makes sense operationally and cost effectively for their business model.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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One Comment

  1. Nice job in discussing the various forms of modular. Contrary to popular belief, modular and containers are not synonymous.