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2010: Modular Data Centers Gain Traction

HP says its new modular design will enable gradual buildouts of large data center footprints over time.

We continue with2010: Data Center Year in Review:

3. Modular Designs See Greater Adoption

When they first arrived on the scene in 2006, data center containers were seen as an interesting niche for specialized requirements, such as military IT requirements, remote nodes for far-flung networks, or temporary "bridge" capacity while expansion facilities were built.

In 2010 the number of vendors for factory-built data centers grew significantly, and designs matured into flexible modular concepts that could adapt to the new focus on energy efficiency and rapid deployment.

"I would say the acceptance of containers or modular data center construction has to be the biggest (trend)," said Mark Thiele, co-founder of Data Center Pulse and VP of Data Center Strategy at ServiceMesh. "Just three years ago the vast majority of data center owners wouldn't have considered a container as an option, and modularity wasn't even a part of our common data center lexicon."

“Modularization has become mainstream," said Belady. "Clearly, Microsoft’s announcement of its Chicago and Gen4 modular strategy may have seemed out on the edge in 2008, but one of the things they helped do is change the mindset of the industry that there could be other approaches to tackle making data center construction more efficient and sustainable.

"Clearly, there has been a flurry of activity around this in 2010 with many server OEMs offering products for the broader industry," said Belady. "In addition, new modular data centers have been emerging in 2010 which shows modular data centers are here to stay.”

The emergence of virtualization and cloud computing as key IT strategies have helped drive the focus on new deployment models, Thiele said.

"The flexibility, scale and portability that come with virtualization and cloud mean that DC owners/IT teams need to consider how to better utilize current data center capacity," he said. "This change in focus means that more companies will be looking to consolidate or even eliminate their own facilities and expand their use of partners."

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