In our latest DCD>Talk, we sat down with Kresimir Krpan to discuss modularization and the concept of prefabricated data centers.
As in any industry, as demand grows, innovation tends to follow.
The data center industry continues to snowball, and as a result, widespread discussion attempts to answer the question: how can we build quickly, and reliably?
Prefabrication and modular design data centers are being put forward as one of the solutions, and Kresimir Krpan as the Sales Director for Vertiv, understands why.
“It's good to occasionally step into the time machine, and jump back 10, 15 years into the past. Prefab data centers didn't really exist, and prefabrication was perceived more as something to deploy in third world countries, somewhere where we can't build quickly, or there's the lack of qualified workforce, and safety is an issue.
“When you talk about prefabrication and modular solutions, you first need to consider that it is not something new in the construction industry. It's fairly new in the data center industry, but it has still been applied for more than a decade.”
So prefabrication has been around for a while. But what does it look like in data center design?
“Going back to basics, it is the process of integrating the equipment or building blocks off-site, in order to speed up and improve the site construction process. Considering the current scale of growth in the data center industry, I would hardly call it a surprise that the big players are looking at using more and more prefabricated elements in their deployment and build strategies.
“If you look at what is happening in the market, there's the obvious need for speed. Be that to build quicker than the competition, conquer new territories or expand faster at a scale that has not been seen before, and that further drives the quest for answers. How do we meet that demand? Prefabrication definitely provides a very solid answer to that.”
In order to put this into practice, considerations must be made prior to implementation.
“The first question is how to meet the local building code. Of course, you need to meet the electrical, mechanical, and thermal design codes, but what is a modular data center? How is it qualified?
“It is big enough to be a building, so we need to address the localization code, the building code, and so on.
“Especially in Europe, we can see that that market and industry have matured and these questions that were not asked before, because of the destinations where these buildings were deployed, now have become something standard and form part of the design and construction process for each of these facilities.”
When it comes to the future of modular design, Krpan sees the death of customization as the likely outcome.
“Standardization is something that, as an idea, exists when you get down and dirty and into the specific case. There's a lot of customization still existing in every data center. We would struggle to find two identical data centers, even if you're talking about the same company and the same customer. What we've definitely identified, is that for the smaller end solutions, at least from the perspective of corporations, I would say that that era of customization is behind us.
“Customizing smaller solutions is not economically feasible, and ultimately we are also seeing the medium and larger data center designs gravitating towards the same end: standardizing the electrical design and standardizing the cooling designs to the fullest extent possible,”
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