Home » In Search of the Optimal Data Center Module
Modular data centers have been touted as more scalable, more reliable, and more energy efficient than any type of data center before them. But they really aren’t so new a concept.
Intel Corporation began rolling out high-density chip-simulation data centers nearly a decade ago based upon a prototypical design of constant size and power density and with the same IT, power and cooling systems everywhere. This approach made it easy for them to manage their operating efficiencies and to deploy their resources incrementally over time as demand increased. Several years later, HP got into the act on a larger scale by rolling out several 100,000-square-foot (sq ft) data centers to consolidate its global resources and prepare for escalating growth projections. Each center was designed to provide four 25,000-sq-ft pods with dynamic power and cooling controls ready to respond to IT demand in real time.
Since then, everyone has gotten into the act, with the likes of 365 Inc and Digital Realty Trust rolling out smaller data center pods. These developments have convinced most all of us that the future lies in smaller, more controllable environments that are more energy efficient, more operationally efficient, more flexible, more scalable, more reliable, and more maintainable than ever before. Not bad … so, what else could we ask for?
Facilities designers like to size each module to match a specific set of power delivery equipment so that standard UPS, generator, and switch-gear sizes can applied effectively and without over-sizing these components or cooling systems.
Over the last few years, module sizes have shrunk from 3.6 megawatts (MW) to 2.4 MW to 1.2 MW.
IT operators, on the other hand, make us want to believe that a single row or a single aisle of racks sized to the capacity of a single router is closer to the ideal size. That way each module is easy to contain and cool, easy to build out and operate, and easy to monitor and control.
That single row or aisle of racks just might happen to fit into a standard 40-foot (ft) shipping container or maybe a 20-ft container. And those containers offer more than just efficiencies. Containers are universally accepted boxes, ready to be shipped anywhere in the world by rail, ship, or truck. They come prefabricated, pre-tested, and ready for delivery and installation. They are easily removed and returned to duty for technology refreshes and easily removed altogether when a real estate lease comes to an end.
For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, take a look at Microsoft’s online video that demonstrates the ease of fabrication, deployment, and operation of what may be the most efficient data spaces in the world, at http://bit.ly/e8Vres.
These containers translate into speed to market! And, that is what the internet is all about. That Microsoft has embarked upon such a deployment strategy with containers may have global implications for the internet. Google and other internet companies are also in the act and are now operating some of the most scalable and efficient data centers ever.
Please check out this video on Microsoft’s web site that so clearly articulates Microsoft’s Global Strategy for Cloud Computing. It is a must see, at http://bit.ly/hA3vNu. And, take a closer look at their Chicago Data Center Cloud Operations at http://bit.ly/eIEMfs.
And, if you want to see container cloud operations from the inside out, look at Google’s video http://bit.ly/gauH1r.