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Pre-Fab Data Centers

hp butterlfy topLast summer, HP announced a new initiative that’s likely to have a significant impact on the data center over the long term. The “Flexible Data Center” is a prefabricated data center that can be built in a modular fashion, increasing the floor space of the data center as the organization needs. This represents a significant move, and could open up new possibilities for organizations across the spectrum.

A pre-fab data center is a far cry from a traditional stick-built data center. Data centers, traditionally, are built on a custom basis. They can take usually at least a year to build, and often much more than that when you add in planning time. A pre-fab data center can go up much more quickly because it uses standard designs and components that are built in a factory, rather than on site by contractors.

The HP pre-fab data center model is built around four main components or “quadrants.” Each quadrant is around 6,000 square feet. They can be added to a data center one at a time, allowing the data center to grow in capacity as its needs change. It’s made from pre-fab sheet metal parts.

In addition, these data centers are designed to be highly energy efficient, recognizing the specialized environmental needs that go along with a data center. The Flexible Data Center’s PUE is 1.2. (PUE is a measurement known as “power usage effectiveness.” Anything under 1.5 is usually considered to be very efficient, while most current data centers have a PUE that’s somewhere around 2.0.) Both power and cooling are integrated and require no heavy installation costs. The centers don’t require a raised floor, instead using a hot aisle model.

One of the biggest benefits to the concept is that modular quadrant design. Many organizations, especially larger ones, have a hard time knowing exactly when to build a new facility or what to include. Because they don’t want to add new data centers on a regular basis, they have to make some predictions about what their future capacity needs might be, leading to a lot of guesswork. Even the best data center managers are going to have a hard time imagining what capacity will be needed for their organization in a decade. This model lets the company start out relatively small and then add modules as time goes on.

It will be interesting to see whether the pre-fab data center catches on, but what is certain is that many organizations can benefit from this kind of modular design.


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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.