Stick-Build or Prefab Data Center: IT and Telecom Leaders Evaluate Their Options

Emerson Network Power explores the options for prefabricated data centers in an executive brief and playbook. The pieces delve into the emerging approach to data center deployment and are designed to help IT and telecom leaders better understand the landscape when considering new data center investments.

Prefabricated data centers transform traditional data center construction practices by manufacturing and testing an entire facility off-site in modules before shipping and assembling those modules on-site. The result is a state-of-the-art, tightly integrated facility that can be deployed faster and at a lower cost than a similar facility using traditional construction practices.

“Prefabricated data centers are one natural evolution of what we’ve seen happening in the area of unified infrastructure,” said Steve McKinney, vice president and general manager, Integrated Modular Solutions and Outside Plant, for the Energy Systems business of Emerson Network Power. “Available for years in limited sizes and configurations, we’re now seeing the benefits of unified infrastructure (most notably cost control, scalability and speed of deployment) applied to these facility-scale, fully customizable data centers and similar deployments in the area of telecommunications.”

The business case for prefabricated data centers is explained in the Executive Brief, “Prefabricated Data Centers: Are They Right for You?” In the Playbook for Change, “Evaluating and Deploying Prefabricated Data Centers,” Emerson Network Power takes a closer look at executional considerations. Some potential advantages to the approach, examined more closely in the two pieces, include:

1. Speed of Deployment: Prefabricated data centers cut months off the time to deploy and should appeal to any organization seeking to accelerate data center deployment.

2. Scalability: Because prefabricated data centers take a modular approach to design and fabrication, they are inherently scalable, allowing streamlined, on-demand capacity expansion.

3. Cost Control: Prefabricated data centers leverage economies of scale and streamlined processes made possible by off-site assembly to enable lower total cost of ownership.

4. Design Flexibility: Prefabricated data centers are custom designed to a site and have no inherent limitations in terms of functionality or aesthetics.

5. Performance: Assembly in a factory-controlled environment enables more control over fit, finish, and quality of workmanship, plus thorough testing and optimization prior to delivery.

6. Intelligence: Integrated components, managed together, enable higher IT productivity and more dynamic capacity adjustments.

7. Project Management and Service: Preassembled, integrated systems—featuring components from a single vendor or chosen for their compatibility—simplify project specification and execution and ensure more efficient service and maintenance over the life of the deployment.

“Under the right circumstances, the economics of a prefabricated data center are so attractive they may even change the cost-benefit analysis regarding expanding an existing facility versus a new build,” said Eric Wilcox, vice president of engineering and operations, Hyperscale Solutions, Emerson Network Power. “Unified infrastructure is an emerging category, and these pieces are designed to be tools CIOs and other decision-makers can use when considering building a new data center. The reality is there are options available that did not exist just five years ago.”

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