Scalable Modular Data Centers and the Race to ROI – Data Center Frontier

To ensure your data center design is modular and scalable, it is essential to select scalable equipment. Switchgear, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), power distribution units (PDU), and remote power panels (RPP) are all examples of scalable equipment. (Source: ABB)

Last week, we continued our special report series on how physical infrastructure, the data center, and the cloud are keeping up with new modular solutions delivery, and streamlined operational support. In our final article in the series, wellexamine some solution architectures for scalable, modular data center designs.

With the modular market developing in the industry, some tremendous innovation and engineering design efforts have been put into solutions. The modular market is maturing, with even more large enterprises actively deploying the modular data center platform.

To that extent, there is already quite a bit of industry adoption as it relates to modular solutions:

With all of this in mind, there are still some hesitations related to modular adoption. These modular myths date back to the first generation of modular deployments. Lets examine some of these myths and where todays modular modernization and the race to data center ROI impact digital infrastructure.

MODULAR FACT

Modular solutions can be seen as intelligently applying capital to the data center in line with changing technology and IT requirements. Instead of a $50 million project on day one, ten $5 million modules can be built as they are needed. It enables the ability to add capacity to the data center incrementally.

MODULAR FACT

Heres another critical point: you dont have to worry about a lack of sub-contractors and trade professionals. Due to the nature of the design and standardized module architecture, you can have your equipment and facility up and running with minimal requirements for contractor support. The reason for this is that your equipment comes delivered as factory-built units. These modular units are pre-assembled, tested in a controlled factory environment, and delivered directly to the construction site. These efforts minimize the need for additional onsite construction and additional personnel.

As the modular data center market matures and new technologies are introduced, data center administrators will need a new way to manage their infrastructure. There will be an immediate need to transform complex data center operations into simplified plug & play delivery models. This means lights-out automation, rapid infrastructure assembly, and even further simplified management. The next iteration of DCIM aims to work more closely with modular ecosystems to remove the many challenges which face administrators when it comes to creating a road map and building around efficiencies. In working with the future of DCIM, expect the following:

MODULAR FACT

Another critical consideration is working with a modular partner that can support a healthy supply chain. When working with modular designs, make sure you have a partner that can think locally and deliver globally.

When working with modular designs, make sure you have a partner that can think locally and deliver globally.

Much like anything in the technology market, solutions continue to change and evolve. Many of the legacy perspectives on modular solutions revolve around an older generation of modular design. Today, modular data centers are more efficient, denser, and a lot easier to deploy. Lets examine some solution architectures for scalable, modular data center designs.

To ensure your data center design is modular and scalable, it is essential to select scalable equipment. Switchgear, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), power distribution units (PDU), and remote power panels (RPP) are all examples of scalable equipment. Get this right and specifying future expansions will be time and cost-efficient.

With this in mind, lets look at some emerging Gen 2 Modular Design considerations.

Digitalization within the modular industry is a significant design consideration for Gen 2 modular designs. Systems of this nature are much more scalable because changes to the configuration can be done remotely using software, as opposed to changing out hardware or reassembling wiring.

IEC 61850 is a well-established communications standard for substation automation. The high reliability, integrated diagnostics, fine selectivity, shorter fault reaction times, and better fault tolerance delivered by IEC 61850 make it ideal for data center power infrastructure.

IEC 61850 AND MODULAR DATA CENTERS

The world is experiencing a data explosion. Not only is the quantity of data increasing at a dizzying rate, but the extent to which society relies on that data is also growing by the day. These trends elevate the data center to the status of critical infrastructure in many countries. If a data center fails, chaos ensues, which makes a reliable power supply indispensable. Generally, data centers have well-thought-out power backup provisions such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs), diesel generators, etc. By employing IEC 61850-enabled devices and IEC 61850-based GOOSE (generic object-oriented substation event) communication to automate the data center power infrastructure, significant improvements can be made: better power supply reliability, greater operational control, and reduced cost, for example.

GEN 2 MODULAR CONCEPTS AND AUTOMATION

Working with the next iteration of modular data center design means eliminating wasteful processes and operations. In many cases, this means adopting new solutions around infrastructure automation.

IEC 61850 is eminently suited to data center power infrastructure automation. Using just one protocol can form the bedrock of a complete electrical design concept that includes the full protection, control and supervision system, and cybersecurity. By using optical fiber instead of copper wire, wiring costs are lowered, space requirements are substantially reduced, and safety is increased. IEC 61850 also delivers the capability to monitor and control IEDs remotely. The convenience is that devices supplied by different manufacturers can communicate with each other without custom-designed gateways or other engineering-intensive complications.

Taking a broader perspective, the IEC 61850 standard allows digitalization of the data center power system in a way that opens it to collaboration with other digital entities in the data center, such as a building management system (BMS), power management system (PMS), data center infrastructure management (DCIM) or ABB Ability Data Center Automation.

These are all essential parts of the final goal: the single plane of glass that orchestrates the entire data center. Decathlon for Data Centers, for instance, gives power and cooling visibility, and IEC 61850s open protocols allow integration of existing equipment and systems. With IEC 61850 peer-to-peer communication capabilities in components like ABBs Relion relays and Emax circuit breakers, one can go from the DCIM system controlling or supervising software to having real-time interaction with the subsystem (such as a UPS breaker) itself.

The IEC 61850 architecture is the ideal standard for data centers, as it delivers increased reliability, finer selectivity, shorter fault reaction times, and the possibility to implement fault tolerance and integrated diagnostics, as well as a host of other advantages.

Download the full report, Cloud and the Data Center: How Digital Modernization is Impacting Physical Modular Infrastructure, courtesy of ABB for two exclusive case studies and tips for getting started on the modular journey.

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Scalable Modular Data Centers and the Race to ROI - Data Center Frontier

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