Modular Data Centres – Transcending Traditional Data Centres


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The evolution of modular data centre from the traditional data centres is a huge step forward in the history
of the data centre market. It has the potential to completely overshadow the traditional data
centres in the next five to seven years.

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Modular Data Centres – Transcending Traditional Data Centres

  1. 1. March 2013Modular Data Centres – Transcending Traditional Data Centres Gautham Gnanajothi, Industry Analyst - Energy & Power Systems “50 Years of Growth, Innovation & Leadership”
  2. 2. Modular Data Centres – Transcending Traditional Data Centres Market InsightThe ever-increasing need for data processing has led the data centre market to boom. Thishigh growth in data centres has led modern business organisations to be equipped withcutting-edge technology, innovation and cost-effectiveness in order to sustain the competitiveenvironment. One of the radical developments in the data centre market is the “ModularData Centre” (MDC). It came to prominence in 2007 and has been on the growth trajectoryever since. The traditional data centres, usually known as the brick-and-mortar facilities, facecertain basic challenges, like long construction period, capacity management, scalability andhigh OPEX and CAPEX. The evolution of modular data centres promises to address thesechallenges and provide additional benefits. Europe has proven to be one of the mostimportant markets for data centres. In Europe, countries with the highest number of datacentres are the UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy. These sevencountries house nearly 80 per cent of the data centres in Europe.Figure 1: Data Centres Concentration in Europe Sweden Denmark 3.4% 3.2% Belgium 3.6% Italy United Kingdom 4.6% 21.9% Spain 4.8% Switzerland 6.0% Germany 17.1% Netherlands 9.0% France 14.6% Source: Frost & Sullivan analysisModularity is a technique used in many different industries and the concept allows businessesto expand or downsize, based on their growth in the future. A modular data centre is builtin a factory in a controlled environment. It is a fully tested, complete system that is deliveredto the customer site and includes generators, switch gears, cooling systems, racks andeverything else needed to run a data centre. The time taken to build and deploy a MDC isusually four to six months, whereas the traditional data centres are built in 18 to 24 months.The evolutionary process of the MDC was inevitable. The current business environmentrequires products that are scalable, standardised and specialised. They are more inclinedtowards solutions that allow them to expand as they grow and provide financial benefits. Thedata centre industry is no different in this respect.© 2013 Frost & Sullivan Page 2
  3. 3. Modular Data Centres – Transcending Traditional Data Centres Market InsightThe traditional data centres still continue to dominate the market. However, the challengesthey pose are increasing. Moreover, the current IT environment is constantly evolving andchanging. cloud-based applications, virtualisation and other such trends are changing theoutlook of a traditional data centre. In such conditions, it becomes mandatory to look at datacentre capacity planning from a different angle. The dawn of modular data centres has provedto be the much-awaited solution for all these challenges. The MDC is still in a nascent stage,and the design and technology is yet to be accepted on a full scale. There are some earlyadopters; however, the market is still sceptical about its benefits and advantages overtraditional data centres. The evolutionary process of the MDC from a traditional brick-and-Mortar building involves an intermediary product, which is the “Containerised Data Centre”(CDC). The idea of a data centre in a container was ground breaking. It is a self-containedmodule comprised of computing, networking and storage resources.Modular Data Centre Facility Source: modules are designed to fit in an ISO-approved container. The external size of thecontainer is ISO restricted; however, the internal configuration can be changed in any fashion.It can be either one container housing all the components or separate containers for eachcomponent, like power, cooling, server racks, etc. The CDC solution offers excellent benefits,like higher efficiency, high reliability, mobility, easy maintenance, and lower build time. In spiteof these benefits, there were a few issues that did not make them the perfect solution for anenterprise. High rigidity of the containers, lack of ability to customise, and size restrictionsthat led to less space for set up and maintenance were some of the key issues. This led tothe next step in the evolutionary process, which was the MDC. It offered all the benefits ofa CDC and effectively addressed the disadvantages.It redefined the concept of data centres. They were no longer required to be built on site,reducing the construction time significantly. Additionally, each module can be customised tomeet the power, cooling and rack requirement of the customer.© 2013 Frost & Sullivan Page 3
  4. 4. Modular Data Centres – Transcending Traditional Data Centres Market InsightThe modules are tested and commissioned before deployment, and modules can be added orremoved based on the customer’s business growth.The global MDC market size estimated to be about $400 million to $500 million in 2011.Since it is a relatively new technology, the market participants are sceptical in adopting it.Frost & Sullivan predicts that it will take at least two years for the momentum to pick up.The MDC market is expected to grow at a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) from2011 – 2015 of 35 per cent to 45 per cent. It can be expected that the MDC willrevolutionise the data centre market, around half of the large data operators will go modularin the next five years. This trend has been clearly identified by the server vendors/OEMs, suchas HP, IBM, SGI, Dell, Cisco, Cirrascale, Bull, AST, Schneider Electric, Emerson Network Power,Silver Linings, and Telenetix. They have included modular and containerised data centres intheir portfolio. Apart from these, there are specialised MDC providers, which include IO,NxGen Modular, COLT, Cannon, Pacific Voice and Data, BladeRoom, Pelio & Associates, DockIT, Lee Technologies (acquired by Schneider Electric), Datapod and Turbine Air Systems(TAS)/Celestica (CLS).The evolution of MDC from the traditional data centres is a huge step forward in the historyof the data centre market. It has the potential to completely overshadow the traditional datacentres in the next five to seven years. The current IT environment is becoming highly fastpaced and the associated costs are also on the rise. This trend has forced IT executives torethink the traditional data centre approach, which no longer provides optimum solution. Theemergence of MDC has provided the much-awaited solution for data centre flexibility, andthis is complimented by significantly reduced build time and lower OPEX and CAPEX. MDCsare not far from becoming the most viable and sought-after solutions available in the market.About Frost & SullivanFrost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients toleverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growthopportunities that will make or break today’s market participants. For more than 50 years,we have been developing growth strategies for the Global 1000, emerging businesses, thepublic sector and the investment community. Is your organisation prepared for the nextprofound wave of industry convergence, disruptive technologies, increasing competitiveintensity, Mega Trends, breakthrough best practices, changing customer dynamics andemerging economies?Contact Us: Start the discussionCONTACT US +44 (0) 20 7343 8383 • •