Digital Realty Trust Unveils Next-Generation Data Center Design and Construction Methodology
"When we introduced POD Architecture a few years ago, we were able to reduce the construction timeline from the traditional 24-month construction period to less than 26 weeks to deliver a data center. It was a milestone in the industry at the time because of the way we used standardization and incremental development as core design principles," said Jim Smith, chief technology officer of Digital Realty Trust. "Today we have taken everything we have learned from delivering dozens of projects over the years to develop the next generation of our POD Architecture. By utilizing our POD 2.0 design, we can often deliver the data center ahead of the time it takes customers to build rack and cable infrastructure or have networks delivered to the new facility."
The centerpiece of POD Architecture 2.0 is the pre-fabrication and inventorying of major electrical and mechanical systems that traditionally stand directly in the critical path of data center construction projects. Digital Realty Trust has begun manufacturing, cabling, and commissioning the mechanical/cooling systems and electrical systems of its Turn-Key Datacenters off-site. These prefabricated components are then delivered to datacenter facilities at the appropriate window in the construction timeline. This allows activities that previously needed to be done sequentially to be done concurrently, with on-site construction proceeding unabated while pre-fabrication of specific components occurs off-site.
POD Architecture 2.0 also includes a number of additional best practices, enhanced protocols and improved techniques that increase reliability, flexibility, and quality. Digital Realty Trust has been testing elements of the POD Architecture 2.0 methodology since January 2010 in a number of U.S. and European sites. Pre-fabricated components are manufactured in a factory environment and then warehoused for on-time delivery to project sites. The cooling and electrical systems are pre-commissioned in the factory and then re-commissioned along with the completed data center.
"This construction methodology is not about producing pre-fab datacenters or containerized solutions. Nor is this a prototype. Utilizing POD 2.0, we have already delivered 3375 kilowatts in 2010, expect to deliver 2250 kilowatts by early April, and have between 12 and 20 megawatts in our project pipeline in 2011. On a capital expenditure basis, this equates to $30 million of current investment and up to $100 million for 2011," said Smith. "By pre-assembling electrical and mechanical room components, while retaining the flexibility that customers require of a customized datacenter, our new POD 2.0 once again puts Digital Realty Trust customers at the forefront of data center development innovation."
POD Architecture 2.0 reduces the delivery time for Turn-Key Datacenters in the Company's Powered Base Buildings Plus (PBB+) facilities. The new methodology also reduces the construction costs of data center projects by an estimated 10 to 20 percent, a significant savings for these capital-intensive projects. POD Architecture 2.0 also produces superior datacenters that feature higher energy efficiency (including LEED- compliant design and PUE ratings of 1.5 or lower) and other enhancements.
"Over the past decade there has been a disruption in the way data centers are planned, architected and built. In the past, it was very common for these projects to be done in a one-off fashion by teams who only tackled these projects once every several years and were not versed in the latest best practices and most efficient design principles. As a result, it was very common for data center projects to face a multitude of problems-including, very lengthy development delays," said Michelle Bailey, research vice president for IDC's Datacenter Trends Programs. "New methodologies and blueprints have emerged that significantly shorten time to market for data center construction and result in greater levels of predictability and lower risk. Digital Realty Trust has been a leader in furthering the science of data center development, and POD Architecture 2.0 further integrates prefabrication and other best practices into the heart of the design and construction process."
"The data center industry is moving to modularity with the goal of shrinking build/delivery times while reducing costs, but nobody yet has deployed modularity at significant scale," said Jeff Paschke, senior data center analyst for Tier 1 Research. "The next generation of data centers is expected to become modular, pre-fabricated and industrialized consisting of off-the-shelf pieces rather than totally customized builds every time. We see modularity becoming a game changer that will dramatically reduce data center build times."