Pre-fabricated components make up today’s modular data centers. Not only is the equipment pre-installed and wired, but cabinets also can be pre-installed with or without IT equipment. The only things required at the project site are utilities connections and module cross-connection wiring and piping.
As simple as this sounds, there are six things facilities professionals should keep in mind when considering a modular approach to a data center.
- Design standards – Good architecture sense should come into play from the start, taking into consideration both efficiency and flexibility in terms of layouts. IT equipment still needs to be protected from elements not only during construction but also operations. Equipment must remain airtight and watertight. Other considerations include aesthetics, local code requirements, and the owner’s design wishlist, if any.
- Computer room size – The modular unit’s size should be flexible and scalable meet the owner’s needs and have the capacity to support racks, storage units, and mainframe computer equipment as needed. It also should offer enough height above for overhead power distribution.
- Third-party testing and certification – Two documents for modular data centers that facility managers should be aware of are UL Subject 2755 Outline of Investigation for Modular Data Centers and the NEC 2014 National Electrical Code Article 646, Modular Data Centers.
- Energy efficiency – The modular data center’s PUE calculation, as outlined by Green Grid and the U.S. Department of Energy, must be clearly stated if information about the total energy required to operate the data center from the utility to the IT equipment is not provided. Ask for complete documentation of the PUE calculation.
- Power distribution – Look for modular systems that offer flexible power distribution capabilities, including various kW equipment loads, types of load connections, ampacities and voltages. And 80/277V, 400/230V or 208/120V power to the IT equipment should be available, among other key factors.
- Temperature control – Install cooling systems that provide concurrent maintainability and fault tolerance, if necessary. Be sure to select ones that meet the latest energy codes and also have the flexibility to cool a wide range of installed equipment. Consider using hot/cold aisle containment systems for efficient cooling.