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Modular or Traditional Data Center Builds – Which is Better?

Modular or Traditional Data Center Build - Which is Better? Cable Management Blog

“The future of data centers is modular,” one popular website states. “The traditional data center is not dead,” says another. Who is right? What is the future of data centers? Is one better than the other, and if so, why?

Here are some pros and cons, and some potential answers data center managers might want to consider. 

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Modular and Traditional Data Center

Modular vs. Traditional Data Center PUE

One of the first things we talk about with modular or traditional data centers is PUE, or Power Usage Efficiency. Most of the time, modular data centers have a lower PUE. However, there is a cost associated with that number.

Traditional data center builds often have a higher PUE initially because there is space for expansion and adding additional equipment. This can sometimes come with higher HVAC and other costs until the data center is at capacity and running at maximum efficiency. We’ll talk about that factor more in a moment. 

For modular data centers, because they are constructed with tight specifications and already at an efficient capacity per module, the PUE is lower from the start. All components are easily matched, and compact spaces are easier to control when it comes to cooling, humidity, and other factors.

What is the downside? When a brick and mortar data center is up and running at capacity and the design has been well executed, PUE levels can be similar, and it can be much simpler to make moves and changes without additional modules and construction. 

Security

As with PUE, there are two sides to this coin. The modular data center can be easier to secure, as they are more compact and self-contained. When installed behind a secure barrier with video and other surveillance measures, the physical security of a modular data center can be assured.

The flip side? Modular data centers may evolve and require additions over time, meaning the physical space will also have to be modified. Proper planning can mitigate this issue, but a traditional data center build can be easier to manage from this perspective, with security built into the construction itself, along with remote monitoring and other security features that must be handled differently with modular data centers. 

The argument over which is better can go either way, but the permanence of a traditional data center build often wins out when it comes to security discussions.

Modular vs. Traditional Real Estate

When locating a data center, we have talked about things like accessibility to a green power grid, the ability to construct your own green energy backups, and more. Real Estate that satisfies all of those requirements can be hard to find, and prices reflect that premium. 

So in this case, the more compact modular data center build has some distinct advantages. The less real estate you need, the less initial costs will be to purchase (or lease) space for the data center. This also has an impact on another factor: the cost of the build. 

Building Costs

Constructing a modular data center is much cheaper than constructing a traditional one, effectively 30% less. That is a huge number when you talk about initial costs. Combined with the lower cost of real estate, deploying a modular data center is much more efficient for those looking towards hyperscaling and co-location. 

This has been shown to be especially true as more “work from anywhere” options become available, and the need for high-speed data center capacity shifts from city centers and similar areas to residential and suburban ones.  

This leads us to our next advantage:

Deployment Speed

The time needed to construct a traditional data center is much greater than that needed to deploy a modular data center. The average data center takes 18-24 months from start to finish, but you can save around 30% of that time by going the modular data center route.

In part, this is because you avoid traditional construction delays due to bad weather, seasonal construction, and more.  

This is not to say modular deployment is better – it is simply faster. It could be argued that a traditional build will last longer and the overall construction will be of higher quality, but that is not always the case. Many modular data centers are created with a similar lifespan in mind and can last just as long as a traditional build.

So which one is better?

The bottom line when it comes to which one is better, a modular or traditional data center build, the answer is, it depends. Ask these questions:

  • How urgent is the need for this data center? 
  • Where will the data center be located? What is the costs associated with a greater holding of real estate?
  • What is the purpose of this data center? Is the need for moves and changes anticipated?
  • What kind of security is needed, and what is possible in the data center location?
  • What is the long-term plan for this data center?

The answers in your situation may vary, but as much as the traditional data center is not dead, the modular data center is on the rise, and for many situations, it’s the best option. 

No matter whether you are creating a modular data center or doing a traditional build, your rack and cable management matter, as does your labeling system and your physical layer security. At AnD Cable Products, we can help with all of these things. Give us a call today, tell us about your situation, and we’d be happy to have a conversation about how we can help

We’re here for all of your data center needs. 

Physical Layer Environment Network Security Monitoring and Control

A150 Physical Layer Environment Network Security Monitoring and Control System Brochure

Full visibility, network security and control of your physical layer environment. Monitor your entire hybrid cloud and IT infrastructure from a cloud-based, integrated dashboard:

  • Introducing the A150 System
  • A150 System Architecture – High-Level Overview
  • A150 System Features
  • System Controller Hardware and Specifications
  • Monitoring Controllers, Probes and Sensors

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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4 Steps to Prepare Your Data Center for Net Zero Carbon Emissions

4 Steps to Prepare Your Data Center for Net Zero Carbon Emissions - AnD Cable Management Blog

The race to net zero carbon emissions is on – our economy and our world depend on it. The data center industry, one that tends to gobble up lots of power is at the forefront of a number of initiatives being implemented around the world. How will you prepare your data center for net zero carbon emissions? Here’s 4 steps that will get you started.

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4 Steps to Prepare Your Data Center for Net Zero Carbon Emissions - AnD Cable Management Blog

The Situation Now

Data centers first became the focus of Greenpeace and other groups back in the mid-to-early 2010 boom. The focus at that time was on enterprise-level data centers – the big guys, in other words. The fact that data centers used lots of power became evident and so the move toward minimizing that impact grew in both urgency and popularity.

So much so that the position of Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) grew to overtake the emerging position of Chief Security Officers. Those in charge of cybersecurity ended up having to change their title to CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) because CSO had already been widely recognized.

Since then, smaller edge computing data centers have become the new focus. With COVID hastening the transition, today, cloud computing, AI, remote monitoring and other data center management trends have now established a level of control and sustainability not previously thought possible.

Thanks in part to these technological developments, net zero carbon emissions now feels more achievable and less like the plot-line in a futuristic sci-fi flick. So, in what areas of the data center can emissions be reduced?

Step One – Make a Commitment

There are several individual measures that promote sustainability. The key is to take all of those individual components and standards and work them into an ecosystem that supports your emissions goal.

Companies and countries alike are making a commitment to reducing carbon emissions as a part of their brand. However, words are not enough, and these companies – including the largest hyperscaling data center companies in the world – are taking action. Advances are happening quickly in the area of artificial intelligence (AI), remote management and data center design. Being on the leading edge of these developments shows that your data center is part of this commitment to a “greener cloud infrastructure.”

Like most strategies, it’s only once a firm commitment at the top of the organization has been made that the necessary actions can be taken, including providing leaders with the authority to make decisions that align with the goal and that resources, responsibilities and accountabilities are allocated.

Step Two – Use Sustainable Energy Sources

Solar, wind and even hydroelectric power are all sustainable sources of power that can make dependence on coal and other carbon-intense fuels a thing of the past. Companies like Tesla and Microsoft are testing and deploying battery technology that can run data centers longer than ever before, even with no sun or wind available.

This means only using the local grid as your primary power source if sustainable energy is available 24+7. Otherwise, the data center will need to provide at least some sustainable sources of its own, like a solar or wind farm designed to directly support a data center.

Because this is expensive, only the largest, hyperscale companies with large data centers can be 100% self-sufficient. Hybrid solutions could help to bridge the gap, such as supplementing local power supplies with solar and wind on site. Selecting a site that’s close to a local, sustainable power grid should be a factor in choosing where to locate your data center and will support the goal of net zero carbon emissions.

Step Three – Operate at Peak Efficiency

For data centers, not only should your power be sourced responsibly, but your data center needs to operate efficiently. One way to reduce carbon dependency is to simply use less power. Strategies can include initiatives such as pro-active device monitoring to identify ‘Zombie Servers’ – stacks that contribute little to performance, but still use significant resources to maintain.

The efficient and responsible use of power, as covered by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12, is about Responsible Production and Consumption. Some other standards include:

  • PUE (Power Use Effectiveness) – Determined by dividing the power coming into the data center by the power used by the computer infrastructure.
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) – A green building certification program that rates building design
  • PAR4 – A new form of power measurement that accurately measures IT equipment power usage to help optimally plan for capacity.
  • ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) – Standards for the temperature and humidity operating ranges for IT equipment and data centers.
  • CCF (Cooling Capacity Factor) – CCF is a metric used to evaluate rated cooling capacity against how that capacity is actually used.

These standards are just a few of those used to rate the efficiency of a data center and are designed to help data centers move toward net zero through more effective use of the power they have available.

Step Four – Build-in Resilience and Agility

The real job of a data center is uptime. Yes, customers want a green data center that is moving toward, if not already achieving, net zero emissions. However, at the same time, they expect that there will be no reduction in service. They expect full uptime, speed, and data protection.

This means that systems must not only be green, but must be reliable and include redundancies, power backups, and other protections, including cybersecurity and physical layer security to protect both customer assets and their data.

The good news is that not only is clean energy better for the environment, but it is also more reliable in many cases, allowing data centers to keep uptime near 99.999% standards. This is a balance that sustainable data centers must constantly monitor, adjust to and plan for.

Net zero carbon emissions is the standard of the future. Your data center can prepare now. Use clean energy, and plan to scale with that energy use in mind. Use the energy you have efficiently and plan for resiliency as part of your transition strategy. It’s what clients and customers and the world deserves.

Have questions about optimizing your physical layer, monitoring and remote control or ways to use your floor space efficiently? Contact Us at AnD Cable Products. We’re here to help.

Physical Layer Environment Network Security Monitoring and Control

A150 Physical Layer Environment Network Security Monitoring and Control System Brochure

Full visibility, network security and control of your physical layer environment. Monitor your entire hybrid cloud and IT infrastructure from a cloud-based, integrated dashboard:

  • Introducing the A150 System
  • A150 System Architecture – High-Level Overview
  • A150 System Features
  • System Controller Hardware and Specifications
  • Monitoring Controllers, Probes and Sensors

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/