The acquisition of AST Modular by Schneider Electric is important to the company’s stake in the market for modular prefabricated data center solutions. The announcement followed on from Schneider Electric’s own release of a range of 15 new prefabricated modules and 14 reference designs, and has “beefed up its position in the market” (to borrow a phrase from Rich Miller’s story on Data Center Knowledge).
AST Modular has been a recognised pioneer and innovator in the modular data center landscape for over a decade now. With over 450 data center projects successfully executed to date worldwide and with presence in over 30 countries, the company was one of the first to build and provide data centers inside ISO shipping containers, already recognizing the importance of minimizing deployment time back in 2001.
At Data Centre World, London ExCel, I got the opportunity to renew my old acquaintance with Davide Ortisi, marketing director at AST Modular. I wanted to try and understand the acquisition from AST’s point of view, as well as get a handle on some of the trends which AST had been experiencing themselves in the market place. Davide started by saying how pleased the AST team is to have become a part of the Schneider Electric family, especially in the light of the company’s major investments in modular data center technologies, products and solutions.
Davide went on to add that the AST team believed the market for modular data centers will have significantly grown by 2016. Up until now, he said, the modular or containerised data center market has often been considered to be a niche for specialized requirements. In other words, very suitable for certain specific applications, examples of which include harsh environments, remote locations and small disaster recovery sites.
However, within three years from now Davide said that AST believed that between 20 – 25% off all new data center builds will be utilising modular products and technologies – including, significantly, enterprise facilities. This has been borne put by recent MarketsandMarkets research which forecasts the global modular data center market to grow from $6.52 billion in 2014 to $26.02 billion by 2019, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 31.9%.
The new Schneider Electric business unit that’s been put in place for modular data center solutions as part of the AST acquisition is now ready and well positioned with sufficient scale and resources to be able to help customers exploit the many benefits of incorporating prefabricated infrastructure in their facility projects. Davide explained that there are also plenty of reference designs and delivery capacity on hand and that AST’s experience includes having already delivered many modular projects across four continents. All of this positions Schneider Electric very well for the coming wave of modular data centers.