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October 7, 2013

Modular data centres proven as cost effective alternative to traditional build

White paper finds cost comparison of modular versus traditional build of data centres.

By Claire Vanner

There has been a lack of clarity in recent years when it comes to the comparative cost of traditional and modular data centres, but the research from DCD Intelligence found that the greater density and more efficient use of space mean that modular facilities are able to achieve significantly better PUE compared to traditional Data Centres in many cases.

Research from DCD Intelligence, a division of DatacenterDynamics, has found that modular data centres may cost as much as 14% less to deploy than traditional ‘bricks and mortars’ data centres, further indicating that the industry could be wasting much-needed capital on data centre deployment.

Chris Drake, lead analyst at DCD Intelligence and Author of the white paper does point out that, in spite of the paper’s findings, the issue is far more complex than simply assuming that a modular approach will always offer significant cost savings.

"It is important to recognise that there are a vast number of modular products available; not all of which offer the same standards and certifications and levels of support to end users," commented Drake. "This paper offers the first real cost comparison of modular versus traditional build. But, as with any market, the potential savings will vary depending on the particular modular solution chosen."

The report identifies that there has been a significant growth in investment in modular data centres. Organisations have been attracted by the shorter timeframe required to plan and deploy a data centre, as well as the reduced complexity and enhanced performance.

"Participating in this project gave us the opportunity to get independent insight into the costs of the modular approach to building data centres and traditional methods," added Victor Smith, product director for Colt.

"We’ve known for some time that the benefits of a modular approach, in particular around costs and efficiency, are very compelling. This study however offers an impartial comparison and view. Colt is delighted that this paper can offer end-users actual cost comparisons and aid their own decision making."

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In the conversations that were had with modular data centre users while the research was being conducted, some operators appeared unclear and unconvinced about the absolute cost savings of modular data centres.

"Every new market or technology is misunderstood early in its life cycle, and modular data centres are no exception," said Troy Rutman, director of corporate communications for IO.

"IO was delighted to be involved in a project designed to quantify actual customer benefits rather than to market a particular product or service. The DCD Intelligence project offers real information on modular solutions and particularly the cost benefits versus traditional data centre builds. By collaborating with DCD Intelligence, we ensured that we can offer our customers neutral educational information that will play a substantial role in determining the future of the data centre industry."

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