CommScope Definitions: What is a Prefabricated Modular Data Center?

patrick_1_websmall(1) Patrick Yantz June 5, 2015

ModularDC1This blog post is part of a series called “CommScope Definitions” in which we will explain common terms in communications network infrastructure.

Whether it’s an enterprise or multi tenant (co-location) facility, the data center is fast becoming an organization’s most valuable strategic asset. Its ability to handle immense volumes of data, provide highly reliable IT services for users and quickly adapt to the increasing demands of a dynamic environment canmake or break a business. As a result, IT and facilities professionals are constantly looking to make their data centers more agile and efficient.

A typical data center is a traditional brick-and-mortar facility that can range from a few thousand to a million square feet or more. A data center of this type is often pre-designed to house all of the necessary racks, power distribution, cooling, cabling, fire suppression, and physical security systems needed to support IT services over the next 10 to 15 years. These facilities can come with a hefty price tag in the hundreds of millions of dollars and take two to three years to plan, design and build.

So, what’s the problem? As IT technologies rapidly evolve and virtualization and cloud computing complicates traditional capacity planning, a brick-and-mortar data center designed today could conceivably become obsolete before it is ever deployed. Its power, cooling and IT “white space” requirements might have been specified by the business at a certain point in time, but by the time the facility actually goes live, the needs of the business – and the data center technologies available to support the business ­– may have irrevocably changed. This constant demand for change results in stranded or inadequate space, power, or cooling, and leaves traditional data center owners trapped in a perpetual and expensive retrofit cycle while attempting to save their initial capital investment.

As a result, many data center owners and operators are exploring alternatives to traditional data center design-and-build.

ModularDC2Within the last several years, the market has warmed to the concept of the prefabricated modular data center. A modular data center is a concept that uses prefabricated modules – built and tested at a factory, disassembled, shipped to a site and then reassembled to deliver data center white space, power and cooling infrastructure. A modular data center can be set up and operational within 14 to 20 weeks instead of two to three years. Also, as business capacity needs or technologies change, new modules addressing the change can be quickly and cost-efficiently added or existing solutions pre-engineered for upgrading can be seamlessly modified.

This approach enables businesses to focus on meeting their current and very near term data center capacity needs, rather than attempting to project and build for their anticipated long-term demand. It creates a purpose-built data center infrastructure that’s built to fit from the start.

The benefits of a prefabricated modular data center include:

  • Significant capital expenditure savings in design, planning, construction and infrastructure
  • Lower power, cooling, and operational expenses due to infrastructure right sizing, engineering out complexity and the usage of hyper-efficient innovative cooling designs
  • The ability to future-proof the data center by easily upgrading whenever more capacity is needed

These benefits are why the prefabricated modular data center is an extremely agile and cost-efficient option for data center owners and operators looking beyond traditional approaches to address rapid changes in business and technology needs today and tomorrow.

Related Sources

Data Center on Demand™

Purpose-Built Data Center

Video: The University of Montana Benefits from CommScope’s Data Center on Demand

Video: CommScope’s Data Center on Demand

About the Author


Patrick Yantz

Patrick Yantz is the vice president of data center solutions at CommScope. Patrick has a passion for delivering the most efficient, cost effective, and holistic data center solutions to customers around the world, by leading in the development and implementation of innovations that change the way infrastructure is designed, manufactured, delivered, and supported. Previously he was Chief Innovation Officer at Saivertech Corp and Principal Member of the Saiver Modular Data Center program, where he designed and delivered the world's most efficient data centers around the globe. Prior to that, he was responsible for the Vision, Strategy, and Scaling of the SGI Container and Modular Data Center business. Past experience includes Enterprise level Data Center Architecture, Design Management, Data Center Research, Engineering, Systems Architecture, Global Operations, Hosting Services, Business, Program, People, and Project Management. He started as owner of a custom computer consulting service in the Pacific Northwest then developed a strong foundation in the Valley while participating in the data center evolution as a server system, network, and sales engineer in the hosting services space. Past roles include Architecting Microsoft’s Generation 4 Enterprise Modular Data Centers and coordinating with and managing Global, Regional, and local Architecture, Engineering, and Construction firms. In addition he led engineers to design and deliver low cost, low PUE, and operationally superior modular data centers. He was responsible for architecting and engineering individual globally deployable modular data center systems. He owned the delivery and piloted Microsoft's first outdoor Modular Server System (ITPAC) capable of being independently deployed globally, requiring no chilled water, with outside air as the primary means of cooling. He regularly speaks to industry leaders and Officers on the subjects of Enterprise Operational Management, Data Centers, Modular Data center Design, Infrastructure, and Paradigm shifting Technologies.