Energy management multinational Schneider Electric thinks that the data center industry should set a standard for the use of pods, groups of integrated racks with predetermined IT equipment and individual power provision. 

Standardized IT equipment could simplify scaling and speed up integration according to a white paper from Schneiders’s Data Center Science Center, which advocates the use of pods to host different applications or varying technologies within the same data center. 

Schneider logo
Schneider logo

Mod pods 

Data centers are likely to include different technology standards, such as the Open Racks from the Open Compute Project (OCP) as well as the more recently founded Open19, both of which are supported by Schneider. These could be combined in the same data center hal, along with traditinal racks by using separate pods, according the paper, by written by Robert Bunger, director of data center industry alliances in Schneider’s IT division, and Patrick Donovan, a senior research analyst at the Center. 

Pods also allow data center operators to decide electrical redundancy on a individual cluster-by-cluster basis, in order to prioritize critical applications and save costs, the pair say. Dedicated electrical feeds to separate pods can help avoid complex distribution setups. 

Seeiung a lack of industry standard for pod configurations the paper suggests they could be defined based on physical space available (which will determine a number of racks, choice of electrical feed and average rack power densities).

A la modular 

It is however unclear whether the idea of such a standard would work in practice: although the use of standardized IT equipment is backed by hyperscale data center providers, advantages in terms of cost and efficiency are less for small and medium data centers. 

Open19 is based around an open chassis standard, which could be useful for smaller players, or in edge deployments, by allowing cheaper equipment and speeding up deployment. For now, there are few compliant vendors, so costs are not as low as they could be. 

Any pod standard would make demands on the space provided in data center. The standard could only succeed if new data centers are constructed to meet the pod standard, providing spaces to install pods.