The Rise of the Modular Data Center

December 5, 2011 No Comments

The Green Grid has produced a useful guide to what it calls Containerized Modular Data Center Facilities, which recognizes the increasing interest in modular design and how it can help improve energy efficiency in data centers. I’ve tackled this subject in a previous blog but chairing the recent Green Data Center conference in London, I had the chance to hear in detail about two very different approaches to modularized design.

The first example was Verne Global’s new data center campus in Iceland. In a project we documented in our Green Data Center report (soon to be updated), Verne Global is taking advantage of Iceland’s climate and copious hydroelectric and geothermal energy resources to create a low-emission, energy efficient data center. The data center facilities are being supplied by Colt, which is providing pre-fabricated data center modules built in its factory in northeast England. It’s using standardized components and production line manufacturing techniques to deliver energy efficient and adaptable data centers in less than four months from contract signing to onsite commissioning. The modules are expected to work to a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of around 1.15 in the advantageous Icelandic environment.

While Colt’s modules are able to meet the variable demands of a co-location data center, a more specialized approach to modularization is being pioneered by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). The background to this project is the investment the Taiwanese government is making to prepare the country’s businesses for the impact of cloud computing. For example, a number of projects are looking at the cloud delivery of government services. It is also looking at how cloud computing can drive innovation in the Taiwanese IT and services sector, which brings us to the green data center project. ITRI has been tasked with developing an energy efficient modular data center that can support cloud computing.

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