The vast majority of today’s data centres have significantly underutilised power systems. Why? Because nobody wants to run short of power. So when power systems are specified it is often done on the assumption that the facility will ultimately have a full compliment of racks all running the power-hungriest equipment possible. And then of course some “contingency” power is added on top, just to be on the safe side.
The reality is often very different though, with large data centres typically not filling out their white space as fast as originally planned or finding that their average rack power loads are far below initial expectations (or both).
We ourselves have designed and deployed data centres for customers who anticipated a one-megawatt power load but that after a few years are still only operating at a few hundred kilowatts. We also often receive white space expansion requests from operators who have filled up their data centre with racks but still have significant spare power installed.
With power systems often contributing 30 per cent of data centre investment costs, along with losses in power systems tending to be to higher at low utilisation, initial over-dimensioning can clearly have a significant impact on pushing up both up-front capital expenses (CAPEX) and on-going energy-related operating expenses (OPEX).
So what is the solution?
The answer is “modular”. Deploying both a modular data centre building and a modular power system enables the operator to minimise its initial investment and at the same time maximise its flexibility to accommodate any evolution in their business needs – be it in terms of adding more racks or increasing power loads (or, again, both).
Fully modular data centres (such as Flexenclosure’s eCentre) provide complete flexibility for any future scenario, with no risk of running out of power and (unlike inflexible containerised solutions) unlimited expansion of open white space. And of course in addition to energy efficiency and easy expansion, modular facilities have other benefits too, such as clean-room factory construction, full pre-rollout testing, very fast deployment and far more effective future proofing than traditional brick and mortar buildings.
So to avoid the pitfalls of an expensive and under utilised power system, a modular strategy can enable a data centre to be right-sized for both power and white space – minimising cost without having to sacrifice future agility.
(Tomas Rahkonen is the CTO and VP at Flexenclosure).
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