Traditional data centers are those large facilities which are designed to create controlled, safe conditions for computing needs. Systems and Storage Devices in these facilities are kept at controlled temperatures and humidity levels that are ideal for the safe functioning of the systems.
But with the technology advancing, there is a proven record that industry standard system can work reliably at higher temperatures and humidity levels than systems belonging to earlier generations. Thus, companies like Google, Facebook and other web-scale companies are taking advantages of these advances in system design by putting data centers in new places that include shipping crates or trailers that can be transported and dropped to new site. Tagged as ‘Modular Data Centers’, these data center crates can be shipped to places as per requirement and when the necessity arises like in case of data continuity.
By using this approach, the following characteristics can be achieved by the companies depending on them.
- First, of all by placing data center crates in places where there is lowest cost real estate, companies can achieve some savings in investments. This may mean that a concrete pad is built out in a rural area or in a desert. In the recent past, there was widespread industry speculation that Google was building several floating data centers that would be tethered near large seaside cities as a way to lower real estate costs. This not only saves costs for the companies investing on data centers, but also works in an environmental friendly way, as it saves many farm lands and forests from being cut to make way for budding data centers.
- As the systems, storage and networking equipment is in an environment with minimal needs, limited cooling and heating equipment costs can be incurred.
- Since, data center sites are selected where power is available at low cost, the operating company can incur some savings with this approach. If in case, the power fails for some reason, the data center crate can be moved to another place or its workload can be migrated to a different facility. There is enough evidence available online that during the Hurricane Sandy of 2012, some companies from East Coast relied heavily on these modular data centers for their core operations.
So, with data centers becoming a disposable tool, built to be just good enough to get by, the future of them looks bright. When needed the shipping crate data centers are put together at a staging site, are smartly set-up and are easily managed. Moreover, they are highly scalable. Therefore the need for large facilities, security and administrative staff gets cut down. If something fails, work just routes around the failed systems or data centers and the end users won’t notice the difference.
After two to three years of use the old shipping crate and data center are picked up and new ones are placed on-site. The older ones are shipped back to the provisioning center so the systems, storage, networking and other equipment can be refurbished or replaced as needed.
Although, these data centers are not meant for all applications, they can surely be used as a part of disaster recovery and business continuity planning.