Modular Data Centers: Strategy Over Building Blocks
Taking a modular approach to data center development is gaining more attention among data center operators, and it’s easy to see why. In an industry where even a highly accelerated schedule isn’t always fast enough, any strategy that increases speed to market is valuable.
Why Modular Makes Sense
A modular system deploys infrastructure one a block at a time, providing a responsive way for data centers to scale in phases from 5 megawatts (MW) to 20 MW to 100 MW and beyond. These systems can provide owners and operators an edge in the market; however, for the approach to make sense, utilization should be uniform with consistent computing densities.
Additionally, because these blocks are self-contained, they can be built off site. This takes advantage of efficiencies of scale and eliminates weather-related delays.
When Deployment Is the Difference
The biggest advantage to a modular approach lies in how these building blocks are deployed. Companies who rely on data centers to support their core business are searching for a sweet spot: growing enough to meet increasing needs while staying efficient, despite the multitude of variables.
A consultant’s job is to match that business strategy with an actionable development plan that provides reality checks regarding budget, schedule and operational efficiency. This plan should look to other markets that employ a modular approach — including industrial, energy and processing — for best practices.
The Basic Best Practices
- Standardizing for Speed: Modular solutions are often treated as prefab buildings by permitting agencies, and requirements vary by state or city. Providing a standard model that meets these permitting demands provides faster deployment to clients nationwide.
- Forecasting for Flexibility: Smart scheduling and strong vendor relationships support strategic forecasting, giving clients the resources to expand their data center quickly while avoiding excess stock — a necessity when technology evolves so quickly.
- Project Managing for Responsiveness: Clients walk a tightrope of building the right capacity in a world that is changing daily. With little room for error, a responsive, problem-solving approach to project management is a necessity.
It’s not about the modules; it’s about the strategy and helping data center clients build a better facility — and making sure that facility meets their business model. In this rapidly-expanding digital world, data center clients are constantly developing new strategies to keep up with customer expectations. It’s your project manager’s job to keep up with (and stay ahead of) those strategies.