According to industry analysts, 451 Research, prefabricated modular data centers are evolving rapidly and beginning to win mainstream support. In fact the analyst states that “prefabrication is ready to transform the data center world.” Factors which underpin this shift towards prefab include “credible products and suppliers” for most applications, as well as some high profile case studies. But prefab, in the widest sense of the term, has been available to the data center community for a while now (451 Research says it’s had a prolonged infancy), and some of the solutions providers are household names. So I asked Scott Neal, product marketing director for Prefabricated Solutions, whether Schneider Electric was the right company for customers to back.
Scott told me, “We’ve got the capability to deliver on five things: Number one, We’ve got proven experience – we have a broad range of product offer from a prefab stand point, the modules themselves, the detailed designs for those modules. Number two, we’ve got global capabilities from an engineering perspective. Three, we’ve got management perspective. Number four, we’ve got market leading DCIM software – StruxureWare for Data Centers – pre-integrated into the modules, so the modules are instrumented and ready to go with any building management system (BMS). And the fifth one would be the library of Data Center Reference Designs, pulling everything together. Schneider Electric has got prefabricated reference designs in different forms and in different sizes and ranges to bring together a whole prefab solution and to provide a complete data center operation for the customer and therefore simplifying the data center overall from the full life-cycle, from the design to operations”.
I asked Scott whether he believed that a company of the size and scale of Schneider Electric is important to give customers confidence in what, after all, is quite a conservative industry?
Scott replied, “Yeah, the key thing is that we are not going anywhere, we’re a big company, we’re comfortable in the market place and we continue to bring new solutions and new value to the customer. This is still a pretty immature market in general, it’s still growing so there are a lot of players that are new to the business as a whole and although the capabilities may be there, the comfort level for a lot of customers is that this is a new product, a new concept, and when you see a lot of players in it, it doesn’t give them a lot of confidence that this is growing or that this is a real solution. With Schneider Electric coming in and bringing global capability it really gives our customers that comfort level that allows prefab to be able to grow and become a real solution for the customer.”
Recently, Schneider Electric has made two important announcements regarding prefabricated modular data centers: Just prior to DatacenterDynamics London 2013, the company set a new standard with the introduction of 15 prefabricated data center modules and 14 new prefabricated Data Center Reference Designs. The reference designs detail complete data centers scalable in 250kW to 2MW increments and meet Uptime Tier II and Tier III standards. The new prefabricated modules deliver IT, power, and/or cooling integrated with best-in-class data center infrastructure components and StruxureWare™ Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software for an easy-to-deploy, predictable data center. Prefabricated modules range in capacities from 90kW to 1.2MW and are customizable to meet end user requirements.
Early in 2014, Schneider Electric announced the acquisition of AST Modular, a Barcelona-based maker of prefabricated modular data centers and data center infrastructure components. Set up in 1999, AST was one of the first entrants into the prefab marketplace and is considered a pioneer in containerized solutions. You can read more about the important addition of AST Modular to the Schneider Electric family elsewhere on this blog.