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Would you buy a pair of shoes that were made in a factory or from a ‘cobbler’

Posted By Paul Russell, Vertiv, 13 February 2015
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUGKndg87m8

  Have You Ever Considered a Modular Data Center?

 

At a recent internal meeting I proposed the question: Would you buy a pair of shoes that were made in a factory or from a ‘cobbler’ (e.g. independent craftsman)? Needless to say, this caused some hilarity amongst my colleagues, but the question has been applied to all forms of consumer goods ever since the 1850’s from baked beans to cars. The answer is – it depends and it could go either way based on the need for customization or preference of hand-made goods. When goods are made by a group of experts carrying out repetitive tasks, in a controlled environment, they are usually less expensive to produce and the product quality is consistent. For hand-crafted goods, your shoes for example, you might have slight variations and they may be more expensive because of the time and personal attention needed to hand-craft them.  This analogy is reflective of the choices CIOs have when deciding whether to start from scratch in building a data center or to choose a modular solution.

In both cases learning, training and experience are always necessary.

Advantages of choosing modular

In fact, data centres have been made in a modular format for a number of years, from a number of vendors, as there are many attractive advantages. But let’s define modular first: “A manufacturing construction method to enable quick assembly of a complete structure, complete with all its services, in sections, within a controlled environment, that is then relocated to its permanent location”.

Normally the fabric for technical buildings is steel, but many fabrics can be used.

So why modular?

1. Build Speed – maybe this is the most attractive feature for clients. In fact, the modules can be designed, fabricated, assembled, fitted out and wired (both electrically and with communications cabling) while the foundations are being constructed on the client’s site. Air conditioning and electrical systems are all included and wired. Modules can even be fitted with toilets and just bolted together on site. Think about it!  – A project build that is no longer affected by weather or dependant on gangs of tradespeople all working together in a small space to achieve the end goal.

2. Quality – No longer is the quality of a project dependant on gangs of people who have never worked together before and who have never co-ordinated their functions before.

3. Fixed Price – Once the project is defined and agreed upon, the price can be agreed. The components are known, the build time is defined, transport costs are calculated and the client has a fixed price, a big advantage over a traditional build where many factors can affect the timeline of a build and therefore the final costs.

In fact there is another cost advantage with a modular build, if you are unsure of the size or capacity of your prospective data centre. With the ‘add-on’ approach, and the appropriate design, you can add modules to an existing build as your demand grows over time. So it is common for each module to be equipped with electrical distribution, that “plugs in” to the main system, independent standalone cooling systems, all with redundancy built in.

Each module can be equipped with the latest security features so that each module can be managed or staffed by independent organisations. Providing the cooling and electrical systems are identical, the site maintenance provider can service and “fault find” outside of the data space, if that is the design, on an individual module with ease.

Of course, vendors such as Emerson know their products and can incorporate all the latest technological techniques into a build and with one of the world’s largest teams of technical personnel, any client special requirements can be designed and delivered. So telephone exchanges, sub stations, combined UPS and generator enclosures, Solar Power transfer stations, cable distribution hubs, temporary data processing modules and even portable buildings are all possible.

Tier structures and PUe (or other metrics) can easily be designed into a modular system and it is much easier to modify or change parameters to amend PUe in a small module rather than a large hall. Using the modular build approach, almost anything is possible. So if you need a generator within the build, or a DC supply for your solar farm, or a telephone exchange and then want to combine this with a concrete render, or a terracotta tile exterior, flat roof, tiled roof, metal roof any combination is achievable. Even workshops and offices can be incorporated, complete with chairs desks and coffee machines!

But maybe the biggest benefit of a modular construction is the fact that it can be built at the factory, then tested and signed off by the client before his foundations are completed! Remember that this is with all the racks wired (in the case of a data centre) all the cooling or fresh air units working.  Offsite testing must be the biggest selling point you see what you get and prove it before it leaves the factory.

However it should be noted that modular cannot fit every situation. The main constraints are transport costs together with transport size and weight constraints. The cheapest form of transport (in the EU) is the standard 24 tonne three axle trailer forming the 40 tonne articulated truck. Within the EU directive 96/53/EC provides the relevant data for height and width constraints on the EU road network. As soon as you design a modular section that goes over these constraints the cost increases, as special trucks are required, with special teams to supervise movement. It is also important to obtain the best value for transport money by designing in the best weight and size ratio to a truck load. So if an area within the modular build is empty the best design might be to flat pack the walls, roof and floors, stack them on a truck and assemble them on site, rather than assemble them into four walls and a floor as a rigid construction.

Remember the shoes? Well just think – you try them on in the shop before taking them home! Just like an Emerson modular construction technical building!

Learn more about modular data centers by watching the video of the T-Systems project.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Datacentre  Date Centre  efficiency  Modular  planning  power 

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Reminder - Anti-Contamination Group Workshop

Posted By Kelly Edmond, 24 July 2014
Hi all, 

This is to remind you of the DCA Anti-Contamination Group Workshop which will be held next week Thursday 31st July. If you would like to find out more or attend this workshop all details can be found on the Event Calendar here

This is the annual review meeting for this specialist steering group. The group's aim is to discuss, advise and recommend practical solutions to the members of the Data Centre Alliance on the control of dust, dirt and contamination of the data centre. In particular, preventing damage to equipment; loss of data and conservation of energy. This workshop is to gain your views on what collaborative action(s) are required by the DCA. All members are welcome to contribute.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions

Best regards

Kelly Edmond
Membership Executive

kellye@datacentrealliance.org 
0845 8734587

Tags:  anti contamination  Date Centre  docklands  dust  planning  university of east london 

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Own or Out-source, Build or Buy?

Posted By Steve Hone, 01 August 2012

These are questions I am often asked, I came across this article the other day on the subject and wanted to share it with you, Posted originally by Nicholas Greene a year or so ago but still very relivent today……..

For one reason or another, your enterprise organization's got some big computing needs right over the horizon. Maybe you're setting up a new consumer payment or accounts management platform. Maybe you've just developed the next best online game, and you need servers to host it. Maybe you just need some additional storage. Whatever the reason, you're gonna need a Data Center. One question remains, though- should you outsource, or build?

Constructing a Data Center's no mean task, as you well know- it's a positively herculean undertaking which brings with it overwhelming costs and an exhaustive time commitment just to construct it- never mind maintaining it after the fact. If you're going to build a Data Facility, you'd better make damned sure your business can handle it. If you don't, you'll flounder- it's simply reality.

There are a lot of things you have to consider- cost and budget, employees, time constraints…you know the drill. Today, we're going to take a closer look at the first entry on the list-the reason for setting up a facility- and use it as a springboard in determining when you should outsource, and when the management of a facility should be placed solely in your organization's hands.

Ultimately, you have three choices- it comes down to whether or not you want to outsource to a multi-purpose data vendor, construct your own purpose-built facility, or hire a contractor to custom-tailor a facility for you. Before we even get started, I'm going to say right out the door that most businesses are better off going with the first or third option.

To determine what choice is right for you, there are a few things you should consider. What does your business do? What shall you be using the facility for, and how intensive will your needs be? How important are the tasks you require the facility for? Are they key components of your business strategy, or of one leg of your corporation?

What your business does can play a considerable role in determining whether or not you'll run your own servers. Is your organization solely based in the technology sector, or is your primary area of expertise in finance. Are you a hardware or software vendor, or do you primarily sell consumer products? How large is your IT department? How well-funded are they? All of these questions should be taken into account, as they can very well help determine right out the door if your business is even capable of managing its own facility without some significant restructuring, let alone building one.

Of course, that's only the first thing you need to consider- what your organization does by no means restricts it from constructing its own centers- Facebook's a prime example of this. Of course, in their case, they have their own reasons for building their own servers- they are, after all, the world's largest and best-known social network.

As I've already stated, what you need the facility for also plays a very important role. If you are, for example, a cloud-based SAAS vendor, it should go entirely without saying that you should be building and managing your own facility. As a general rule, if you expect to turn a significant profit from your facility, or the need met by the facility comprises a key aspect of your business model, you should look at running your own- or, at the very least, get yourself a custom-built data center.

Bandwidth goes hand in hand with purpose. How many gigabytes of data is your product or service going to use? How will the costs of development and management stack up against the fees you'd be paying if you outsourced? Will you turn enough of a profit to merit setting up your own facility?

Do you foresee yourself needing to expand your facility in the future? How will you do it? Scalability's an important concern, and if your business can't afford to expand- or virtualize- outsourcing might be the answer. Size matters, folks, and the smaller your business, the more likely you are to need to contract out, rather than run your own center.

Finally, there's your staff. Is it more economical to train and hire a whole team of new employees, or simply contract out to an organization to manage things for you?

Every business is different, and not all organizations are built equal. What I've listed here, all of the information; it's little more than a guideline. Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to outsource rests entirely with you.

Tags:  building  central  comms  cooling  Date Centre  efficiency  Location  planning  PUE 

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Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy !

Posted By Steve Hone, 01 August 2012

So your thinking about building a Data Centre are you,.... well how difficult can it be !!!, before you jump in feet first here are a few things to consider................

You dont have to scratch to far under the surface to realise there's a lot that goes into running a data centre- and the logistics can, quite frankly, be overwhelming. Paying attention to the metrics- to all the little details- can make or break a facility. If an Operator isn't careful, they can easily find themselves left in the dust by their competitors. Not surprisingly, there's also a lot that goes into establishing a data centre, as well. If you're thinking of having your business start one up, you need to ask yourselves a few questions first. If you don't, the results could be disastrous.

The Reason:

Why are you setting up a data centre? What do you have to gain from it? If you do set it up, what will you use it for? What sort of services will it provide? Is it going to primarily be used for consumer information, or for business data? What sort of a profit do you stand to make? You need to consider very, very carefully whether or not setting up a data centre is the right choice for you before you do it- and what purpose the facility will serve as it may well prove to be more cost effective to outsource to a Colocation, Hosting or MS/Cloud provider instead.

The Location:

Aside from the purpose of your facility, its location is probably the most important consideration. Will it be a domestic centre, or an international one? What sites are available? What sites best suit your needs? The planned purpose of the facility will have a marked impact on where you situate it.

Cost:

Another question you need to answer before setting up a facility is whether or not you've got the budget to do so. How much will your data centre cost? What sort of upkeep will be required to keep things running? What about power demands? You're going to need to budget everything very, very carefully before you set up your new facility- plan out how much money it'll make you, and compare that against how much it's slated to cost you.

While there are certain steps you can take to reduce the cost of running the facility- such as greener energy and hardware alternatives- you still need to be certain the new centre won't break the bank.

Employees and staffing:

What sort of outside help will you be bringing in to help set up the data centre? Are your employees properly trained to manage such a facility? Can your IT department handle the Cloud? Do you have the staff base to manage things now, or are you going to need to bring in new hires in order to handle the workload?

Space:

Space is another of your concerns- before you go about purchasing your hardware, figure out how much space you need- and then how much space you've got. If you've done your homework and found a good location, those two variables should be pretty much the same. Consider the options you have for reducing how much space your server takes up- new, compact modular server designs are just one of these options.

The Hardware and Equipment:

You're going to need to figure out where you're getting your hardware from, and what sort of hardware you'll need. Be sure to buy new- skimping on the servers is one of the worst possible things you can do. More than anything else, you'll need your hardware to be both durable and reliable. Go for those qualities first, and consider innovative solutions as secondary concerns.

Hardware's not the only thing you'll need to worry about, either. You'll need equipment aside from the servers- server racks and office supplies are one example, and if you're constructing the facility from the ground up, you'll need to consider the supplies you'll need to build it, as well.

Cooling:

How are you going to keep your servers running cool? While the traditional approach works just fine, it has a tendency to rack up a downright terrifying power bill- consider more innovative alternatives.

Network Connectivity:

This should really go without saying. What sort of network provider are you going to be making a deal with? How much bandwidth is your facility going to need? How much will it cost? Can the physical infrastructure of your facility and the surrounding area keep up? You need to make sure you've got the right provider and hardware for your network, or your clients are going to be experiencing a great deal of latency- which could ultimately cripple your centre.

The Software:

You're also going to need to iron out the details of your software. What sort of management platform are you going to use? Will you be dealing with a vendor, or developing your own in-house platform? If you're choosing a vendor, make sure you choose a good one-

Power:

Finally, how much energy will your data centre use? What will the power efficiency of the facility be? How can you improve on this efficiency? How much power should you provision for the facility? Make sure you've got this ironed out in advance- it'll cost you a very, very large sum if you end up having to reprovision.

 

 

 

 

Many thanks to Nicholas Greene

Tags:  budget  building  central  comms  cooling  data  Date Centre  Location  planning  power 

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