Data Center

Prefabricated Data Centers: Moving from Niche to Mainstream Applications

One of the trends in the data center market in recent years has been the diversity in size and focus of installations. Massive centralized data centers are being supplemented by smaller facilities at the Edge of the network which may be regional in focus or specific to particular applications at departmental or branch level in large organizations.

This trend is being encouraged by the emergence of prefabricated data centers that allow organizations to deploy quickly and cost effectively fully tested standards-compliant infrastructure constructed to scale for a particular purpose.

I asked Dave Johnson, Executive Vice President, IT Division at Schneider Electric, how trends in the prefabricated data center sector had developed over the 24 months since the DatacenterDynamics London event when the company had first announced a broader range of prefab solutions for a wider variety of applications. See our interview here.

“Back then prefab was really just coming on the scene,” he said. “It was a hot topic at DatacenterDynamics at the time. But what I’ve noticed at this show is that it has almost disappeared, but only because it has become mainstream. So I think in that short window we’ve seen a strong adoption of prefabricated modular data centers. I think it fits with what is going on in the data center world right now – the architecture has been readily accepted and the market has really taken off.”

“In the meantime, Schneider Electric acquired a company called AST based in Spain and that really jump-started our prefab business. There have of course been some challenges in bringing an acquisition into the company, as there always are, but despite those challenges I think we’ve seen growing momentum and AST has really added to our capabilities in this strong growth area.”

I asked Dave whether there were any good examples of applications emerging that are particular suitable for the prefabricated approach.

“Well if I look around the world generally the market really started out in these specialized niches like mining and remote military installations,” he said. “There are also hardened applications required in the oil and gas industries. Out in the actual drilling sites where there is a need to gather and analyse data, it is important to have data center functionality.

“These applications are a naturally fit for prefab but we’ve also seen the approach go mainstream. We’ve seen it go into healthcare and into a lot of colocation sites. In fact, we have a large project that we’re very proud of here in the UK, a project that we did with Capgemini, involving a beautiful deployment of a modular approach to data centres. That’s been one of the highlights of the business so far.”

To see a video of the installation of Schneider Electric prefabricated data center modules being installed at Capgemini’s UK facility, please visit https://youtube/WhZrbpqYZ5c

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