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French electrical distribution and automation equipment giant Schneider Electric announced a new line of prefabricated data center modules and reference designs Tuesday. The 14 reference designs detail complete modular data centers scalable in 250kW increments up to 2MW.


The 15 prefabricated modules come with IT, power and cooling equipment and the vendor's StruxureWare Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software. These modules are customizable and range in capacity from 90kW to 1.2MW.


While vendors customarily remain tight-lipped about specific details on customers of refabricated data center modules, some have said that the product is generally used for overspill - when a primary data center runs out of capacity and a quick expansion is necessary, for example - or for temporary deployments in places like combat zones.


Companies with well-known prefabricated data center products include Dell, HP and SGI, among others. One of the few outspoken users of the approach is eBay, which has deployed both Dell adn HP modules at its data center sites in Phoenix, Arizona, and Salt Lake City, Utah.


Kevin Brown, global VP of Schneider's data center business, said the market demanded more flexible and scalable data centers and faster deployment speeds. “Prefabricated data centers enable data center managers to maximize the speed of business through rapid installation, easy expansion and improved cash management,” he said.


“This prefabricated approach inherently increases the predictability of the build process, since most of the construction occurs in a factory instead of in the field.”


The reference designs are “pre-engineered starting points” for data centers managers who want to optimize parameters like deployment speed, performance, reliability and cost for specific situations, according to Schneider.


The vendor promises to deliver already configured and tested modules to a customer site in 12-16 weeks, depending on project complexity. Deployment time can be minimized by doing site preparation and module production simultaneously, the company suggests.