Modular data center

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A modular data center connected to the power grid at a utility substation
HP Performance Optimized Datacenter, model 240a.

A modular data center system is a portable method of deploying data center capacity. An alternative to the traditional data center, a modular data center can be placed anywhere data capacity is needed.

Modular data center systems consist of purpose-engineered modules and components to offer scalable data center capacity with multiple power and cooling options. Modules can be shipped anywhere in the world to be added, integrated or retrofitted into the customer’s existing data center footprint, or combined into a system of modules. Modular data centers typically consist of standardized components, making them easier and cheaper to build.[1]

Modular data centers are a form of the emerging infrastructure convergence (or converged infrastructure) approaches that allow for substantial economies of scale and have been designed with more efficient energy usage in mind, including considerations regarding the external environment. Plus, fabrication techniques can be used to reduce manufacturing costs. Training and parts stocking for field maintenance and field-servicing errors can be avoided. Furthermore, a module can be treated as a single unit for U.S. Federal Communications Commission-compliance certification rather than over a thousand discrete systems.

Modular data centers are often designed for rapid deployment, energy efficiency and high-density computing to deliver data center capacity at a lower cost than traditional construction methods, and significantly reduce the construction time from years to a matter of months.[2]

There are a wide variety of different solutions, that are often customised to specific need, several patents have been taken out on various Containerized Data Center solutions.[3][4]


Modular data centers typically come in two types of form factors. The more common type, referred to as containerized data centers or portable modular data centers, fits data center equipment (servers, storage and networking equipment) into a standard shipping container, which is then transported to a desired location.[5] Containerized data centers typically come outfitted with their own cooling systems. Cisco makes an example of this type of data center, called the Cisco Containerized Data Center.[6]

Another form of modular data center fits data center equipment into a facility composed of prefabricated components that can be quickly built on a site and added to as capacity is needed. For example, HP’s version of this type of modular data center, which it calls Flexible Data Center, is constructed of sheet metal components that are formed into four data center halls linked by a central operating building.[7]



  1. ^ Rath, John. “DCK Guide To Modular Data Centers: Why Modular?”, Oct. 20, 2011 [1]
  2. ^ Worthen, Ben. “Data Centers Boom,” The Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2011. [2]
  3. ^ Slessman, George (May 7, 2013), System and method of providing computer resources, retrieved 2016-02-24 
  4. ^ "Google Patent Search: Container Data Center". Google Patents. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  5. ^ Pitchaikani, Bala. “Strategies for the Containerized Data Center,”, Sept. 8, 2011. [3]
  6. ^ Henderson, Nicole. “Cisco Unveils New Containerized Data Center Product,” Web Host Industry Review, May 2, 2011. [4]
  7. ^ Niccolai, James. “HP says prefab data center cuts costs in half,” InfoWorld, July 27, 2010. [5]