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Data Center

Bernard Geoghegan (UK) - Data Centre Innovation: What is Driving Modular Demand?

Today's data creation, processing and storage is growing at an unfathomable rate and is more critical to organisations than it has ever been before. Demand for data centre capacity is outstripping supply significantly due to the need for more storage, security, disaster recovery and application hosting. This, accompanied by the shift to cloud computing and increased project time constraints, is putting pressure on the provision of data centre facilities.

Capacity planning is one of the greatest challenges to IT staff. The life cycle of a data centre is at least 10 - 15 year and planning IT equipment needs months in advance can be difficult, never mind forecasting several years. The industry is clamouring to offer solutions that tackle this issue. A modular data centre solution redefines the economics and timescales of conventional data centre building projects. Complete data centre solutions with market-leading efficiencies can now be delivered, installed and fully commissioned within just 16 weeks. Even more importantly though, modularity brings with it smaller sized chunks of data centre space which can be increased or decreased as necessary - from 125m2 (175kW), 250m2 and 375m2 data halls or multiple combinations of each model, for instance, rather than just the usual 500m2. As a result, a CIO can efficiently plan for capacity and gain more control of capital expenditure.

Historically, changes in business direction or IT performance have led to CIOs lacking IT space or having to deploy additional capacity very quickly. Data centres housed in containers or outsourcing IT to supplier sites can be an effective stop gap when traditional data centre builds will simply take too long. However, modular data centres are bridging this gap. ‘Modules' are constructed off-site using efficient production techniques which slashes the total build time by more than a quarter and allows for delivery anywhere in the world. Modularity marries the look, feel, longevity and access of a traditional data centre with the contiguous space and shorter delivery schedule of a contained solution.

While corporate expansion is the main driver for modular data centre demand, a number of other factors loom. Factors include: the need to support constantly increasing storage for new applications and new ways of managing data centre facilities such as virtualisation as well as the move to cloud-based hosting - whether that's a locally hosted cloud or one provided by a third party. In addition, the change in power density demands for IT servers is driving significant requests for a refresh data centre innovation.

Additionally, with growing focus and importance placed on sustainability, companies will find it increasingly hard to justify the operating costs of older, inefficient data centres. Hundreds of thousands of pounds a year can be spent on power bills alone between legacy and newly built (or completely refurbished) data centres. Maintenance too can cost additional thousands not to mention add a greater risk of IT system downtime. The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) will load further costs onto organisations who don't commit to improving the environment. We see there is continued and even increased scrutiny on expenditure across organisations. CFOs are applying more and more pressure to cut costs and in our experience, are becoming more involved in the data centre decision-making process. It's a subtle shift and one that can be overstated in today's economic environment but various studies indicate that it's likely to become a greater concern over time.

The data centre industry is undoubtedly changing. With greater pressure to improve cost savings and to create a faster time-to-market, all under more scrutiny from shareholders, CEOs and CFOs, CIOs are faced with bigger challenges, which is resolved by becoming more innovative. Express delivery, higher efficiencies delivered in a cost effective way through the modular approach is revolutionising how decision-makers can plan and implement their data centres today. In an industry that has largely remained unchanged since its inception, many agree this is a welcome revolution.

By Bernard Geoghegan, executive vp at Colt Data Centre Services uk

 

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