Data centre builds will increasingly comprise standardised, modular building blocks configured to address special power and thermal requirements
Much like snowflakes, no two data centres are identical. Although they may be home to similar IT equipment, the business needs of the owners and operators of the equipment along with legal requirements, financial considerations and business risk will often drive, if not dictate, certain key elements and properties of a data centre build. Hence the end build may be radically different despite close physical proximity and similar total power requirements.
However, there is growing interest in some form of standardisation for obvious reasons. If handled properly, standardisation can reduce equipment costs, shorten delivery and deployment timelines and simplify service and maintenance.
But never forget, the key tenet of the data centre industry is availability. If standardised equipment and design choices work in service of increasing availability, they will be considered. If customised approaches do more to prevent downtime, they will be the choice. And make no mistake: there are several approaches that can help data centres achieve the desired level of availability.
Even designs that seem to offer some level of standardisation typically come with dozens, if not hundreds, of options. For example, the Uptime Institute Tier rating system and the building designs it represents offer various drawings that look similar. In reality the exact approach taken, and equipment deployed within the build can lead to millions of different combinations and permutations.
Despite the complexity of business requirements, we do see a continuing move to standardisation of build at various sub-assembly levels, such as skidded power, power rooms, power containers/pods/modules and similar approaches to cooling assemblies. Even the “white space” can be prefabricated in off-site manufacturing facilities with all fibre, power, fire detection/suppression, access control, etc., installed and fully tested in a factory environment.