Modular Datacenter Units – The End of Traditional Enterprise Datacenters?

Traditional brick and mortar datacenters have been a mainstay of enterprise computing since the day of the mainframe.  IT systems were kept in isolation in windowless, highly secure facilities that provided a constant temperature and humidity environment on a 7×24 basis.  Although the cost of building new datacenters continues to increase substantially, until now relatively few options have been available.

However, with the development of the portable modular datacenter, the day of the traditional datacenter may be coming to an end.  While there are several variations on the market, the most promising appears to be the completely built out facility. New datacenter modules are built from ISO standard shipping containers. They incorporate chillers, power and communications buses, forced air cooling, equipment racks, and all other components necessary for a modern datacenter. These units can be trucked to any location, moved into position on a concrete pad, connected to external resources, and be ready for systems build-out on short notice.  They can be configured to operate as a singular unit, multiple units, and even as stacked arrays of modular datacenter units.

In addition to serving as a modular replacement for traditional brick-and-mortar datacenter s, there are other possibilities for Portable Modular Datacenter s:

RAPID DEPLOYMENT MODULES – For situations where rapid implementation is a key driver, or when companies simply can’t wait the 18-24 months for a new datacenter build-out.

COST CONTAINMENT – Situations where minimizing the cost for building a new datacenter facility is a primary objective

DISASTER RECOVERY – A highly flexible, cost-effective IT environment that can be deployed remotely for a Disaster Recovery solution

CAPACITY-ON-DEMAND –Modular, self-contained units that permit companies to add new datacenter capacity only-as-required (Capacity-as-a-Service?)

TEMPORARY FACILITIES – Allows companies to continue to support ongoing IT operations while a permanent datacenter facility is built

SEGREGATED SYSTEMS – Enables complete isolation of specific IT operation in an otherwise shared environment (Community Cloud?)

DYNAMIC MARKETS – A solution for highly volatile markets where future capacity requirements are difficult to predict

EMERGENCY CAPACITY – Available for relatively rapid deployment when an organization’s primary datacenter runs out of floor space

SYNCRONOUS REPLICATION – Allows the implementation of a small nearby replication site within 40KM of the primary datacenter to support replication while maintaining database consistency

MOBILE SYSTEMS – A portable IT solution that could be relocated to a different region in response to changing corporate needs or an impending disaster (such as a major hurricane).

PREFABRICATED SUB-SYSTEMS – A transportable platform for high growth companies who must buy integrated sub-systems from an external vendor, rather than building the equipment themselves.

REPURPOSING OF BUILDINGS – Modular units may be installed within existing building that are sitting idle, as long as adequate resources (power and communications) are available.

Anotherbig  benefit to portable mobile datacenter units is that they’re built in a factory to exact specification.  As such, they benefit from repetitive manufacturing processes and ongoing quality assurance reviews.  Each module features the same level of quality and reliability as its peers.  This is in sharp contrast to traditional brick-and-mortar datacenters, which are normally built as one-off custom configurations.

The concept of portable mobile datacenter units is pretty clever.   If there are any downsides to this technology they are not readily apparent. Although this represents a relatively new approach, it appears to be distinctly superior to what’s been done in the past.  Don’t be surprised to see a new modular datacenter unit being installed on a concrete pad near you in the foreseeable future.

About Big Data Challenges

Mr. Randy Cochran is a Senior Storage Architect at Data Center Enhancements Inc.. He has over 42-years of experience as an IT professional, with specific expertise in large and complex SAN/NAS/DAS storage architectures. He is recoginzed as a Subject Matter Expert in the enterprise storage field. For the past five years his primary focus has been on addressing the operational requirements and challenges presented by petabyte-level storage.

Posted on July 22, 2012, in Datacenter and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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