Stephen C. Madaffari is a Principal with Data Centers Delivered where he educates the data center industry on how to build custom, manufactured, modular data centers.
Data Centers Delivered
“Why build off-site via factory construction?” “How will customizing my modular data center and building it in a factory benefit me?” These questions are becoming more and more frequently asked in the modular data center industry. Yet, there is no one answer because every project is different. However, there are four factors to consider when determining whether or not your project should be built off-site.
Cost-containment is a significant reason to build off-site. Few interruptions and delays occur when building in a factory environment. When a business determines exactly what it wants its data center capacity to look like (i.e., multiple densities, rack manufacturers, containment strategies, mechanical systems, electrical systems, etc.) and applies a factory approach to building that facility, it has a very accurate picture of how much it will cost. What they see is what they get. It’s already designed. All the material costs and labor costs are known entities, thereby mitigating unplanned soft costs that are commonplace in field construction. The enterprise, university, and colocation sectors can breathe easier knowing their allocation of funds to build additional data center capacity has been fulfilled, without surprise cost impacts. By building off-site, owners and operators gain an advantage by saving money and freeing up capital to build other projects.
Risk management is a recurrent theme among data center owners and operators. Let’s face it, construction sites require a lot of manual labor and labor creates risk. Off-site construction mitigates that risk by moving labor to a factory where the manufacturer owns all the risk in a controlled environment, with highly focused and proven safety processes. A secondary benefit to the data center owner, factory-building is a cost-saving strategy, especially with regard to rising insurance premiums.
Speed of Deployment
Building off-site means your data center is up and running sooner, period. The mere fact that everything is factory-fit and tested prior to shipping saves expensive time in the field. Also, as installation construction teams become more familiar with modular deployments, their speed of onsite installation increases as well. There are several documented instances that show multiple installations by the same onsite crews resulted in a more harmonious sync of the modular deployment. The impact? The business’ data goes online faster, and additional revenue is created for the owner/operator.
Often overlooked are the gains a repetitive fabrication process can make in custom modular deployment. Because labor changes from job to job in on-site construction, this standardization effect and resulting quality control isn’t achieved onsite like it is in the factory. Organizations that concentrate on long-term data center strategy maintain design standards to gain efficiencies that cannot be duplicated in a multiple-deployment field build. Repetitive factory processes allow owners and operators to reap the benefits of scale and quality control and consistency when deploying a custom-designed modular installment in several locations or at the same location as they grow. Repetition also produces cost advantages as the manufacturer finds construction efficiencies within their own factory.
So, after considering the four reasons mentioned above, should your business build a data center off-site? Only you can answer that question, but before you say no, remember off-site construction will cost less, mitigate risk, reduce time, and create profit-enhancing repetitive customization advantages when done correctly.
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.