From Modernization to Modular: Adapting to New Industry Norms

July 6, 2023
Understanding key considerations for modular data center design.

Last week we launched our article series on how modular design and sustainability both play a significant role in data center modernization efforts. This week we'll explore key considerations for modular data centers.

In the past, data center leaders would build extensive facilities and wait for them to be filled up.

Welcome to the future. We don’t build data centers like that any longer. 

The key to sustainable and profitable growth for colocation providers is to open and lease each phase of the data center as quickly as possible to start leveraging their investment and generating revenue.

For that reason, many colocation providers are building their data centers in smaller blocks to open one section while they begin building the next. This limits the upfront investment and the time before revenue generation begins. It also allows providers to secure tenants earlier, essential in competitive, fast- paced environments.

On that note, keeping pace with a digital market is not always easy. Two of the biggest reasons typically listed for the problem with data centers are capital and speed of deployment. The traditional brick-and- mortar data center takes a lot of money and time to build. Furthermore, the quick evolution of supporting technologies further entices organizations to work with fast and scalable modular designs.

Outside of those two primary drivers, there are many benefits and reasons listed for why a modular data center approach is selected.

Modular Data Center Key Considerations

In a world driven by digital solutions, ensuring you can meet the market’s demands has become more complicated. Leaders in the edge, cloud, and data center space have looked to modular designs to ensure they can meet emerging requirements. Let’s examine some key benefits and considerations related to modular architecture.

Modular as a Concept, Not a Construct

Working with next-generation modular design requires a different approach to constructing critical infrastructure. First, modular ecosystems are a true concept because there is so much flexibility in how it’s designed and deployed. You have the freedom to ensure that your design meets business requirements.

With that in mind, let’s explore key concepts surrounding modular infrastructure.

In a study conducted during the recent DCD>Building at Scale conference, 39 percent of professionals working in the data center industry said that projects are being deployed in under a year and 66 percent in under 18 months. Data center designers must select more scalable solutions to keep up with this demand.

These lead times are significantly shorter than a decade ago, when data center projects stretched well over two years, a build strategy that simply would not meet the data demand of today’s rapidly growing market.

This means organizations can forecast technological changes very few months in advance. So, a cloud data center solution doesn’t have to take years to plan out.

The good news is that data center leaders are already pushing that PUE as low as it can go. For example, Nautilus water-cooled data center design has the lowest validated Power Utilization Effectiveness (PUE) of any commercial data center, reducing carbon emissions and energy usage by up to 30%. Their patented cooling technology utilizes a heat sink with an open and closed water loop. As a result, Nautilus data centers have a guaranteed PUE of 1.15 or better globally in most locations.

Finally, in terms of density, much of the industry still hovers between 10-20 kw/rack. New designs are taking power and density to entirely new levels. Working with partners like Nautilus will allow you to deliver high-density power up to 55kW a rack with rear door cooling or 100kW per rack when paired with liquid cooling technologies, with diverse primary and reserve distribution to each hall.

Download the entire report, Modernizing Efficiency and Time-to-Market: A New Approach to Data Center Design, featuring Nautilus Data Technologies, to learn more. In our next article, we'll dive into how new and innovative modular designs now support zero water consumption, zero refrigerants, and zero chemicals and cause no harm to the water or wildlife.

About the Author

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. Bill is currently a freelance analyst, speaker, and author for some of our industry's leading publications.

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