Steve Shelley Issue: Asia-Pacific I 2015
Article no.: 8
Topic: Modular data centres: The future of data centre technology
Author: Steve Shelley
Title: Vice President, Modular Solutions, Asia Pacific
Organisation: Emerson Network Power
PDF size: 289KB

About author

Steve Shelley is an industry veteran whose career has spanned over two decades. With a variety of roles under his belt, his latest designation as vice president puts him in charge of Emerson Network Power’s modular solutions business, in response to evolving customer needs and significant market potential for integrated solutions of this nature.

Steve oversees the region-wide Modular Solutions team and develops multi-faceted capabilities to pursue, win and deliver large projects utilizing integrated modular solutions. Through close partnership with Emerson business leaders in the region, Steve leverages his industry expertise to seize growing opportunities for the rest of Asia Pacific.

Steve first joined Emerson through Liebert Australia in 1993 as finance director. He was later named director for Asia Pacific Finance before being promoted to Vice President in 2000. Most recently, Steve held a dual role as Vice President, Asia Finance and General Manager for the NBN project where he successfully built and led a project team to deliver the highest levels of reliability, cost-effectiveness and efficiency for the largest single infrastructure project in the history of Australia.

Steve holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business majoring in Accounting from the University of Western Sydney.

Article abstract

The increasing need to bridge the digital divide and empower consumers is forcing data centres to evolve to bring technology to even the remotest of locations. Consequently, as more and more people become connected, data is expected to grow exponentially. 

Full Article

TECHNOLOGY has become so permeated in our daily lives that we simply cannot imagine life without our mobile phones, tablets or personal computers. Every aspect of our lives is intertwined with technology, from seemingly routine tasks like sleeping (there’s an app to track sleep cycles), to more skilled tasks like driving (traffic and navigation apps are aplenty); so
much so that a day without your trusted smartphone makes you feel like you’ve lost a limb.

Despite of all this, there is still a huge digital divide across Asia Pacific where many people remain disconnected and are without Internet access. In Myanmar, for example, only ten percent of the population own mobile phones, while Internet penetration is just at one percent, according to On Device Research early this year. Further, according to the Association of Indonesian Internet Providers (APJII), internet penetration in Indonesia – a country that has a population of about 248 million – stands at just about 28 percent.

There are many reasons for this digital divide. It can either be socio-economic, political, or even geographical. Arguably, addressing the first two issues can be difficult and requires political will but worth noting is that there are new technologies emerging today that seek to remove the geographical barriers that limit digital reach.

Integrated modular solutions: The next big thing
The data centre – a core backbone of IT infrastructure and responsible for bringing technology to both people and businesses – is transforming. Our typical idea of a traditional computer room is a “brick-and-mortar” type of facility that is constructed on-site with fixed structures, integrating both innovative and non-innovative approaches to power, cooling, and other support systems, while taking a considerable time to construct and implement.

The increasing need to bridge the digital divide and empower consumers is forcing data centres to evolve to bring technology to even the remotest of locations. Consequently, as more and more people become connected, data is expected to grow exponentially. As a result, data centres are now required to become more efficient, reliable and agile to address these critical
needs and to support future business growth. The bottom line is this: scalability – the ability to scale up rapidly and efficiently to match with increasing demand – is now a critical consideration for the data centre and traditional data centres can only be expanded to a certain extent.

Integrated modular solutions, also known as modular data centres, prefabricated data centres or containerized data centres, are now emerging as a viable solution for the changing capacity demands of the data centre. As opposed to the traditional “brick-and-mortar” data centre, integrated modular solutions are like literal “building blocks” that are prefabricated
and assembled off-site or on-site depending on location. Scalable to meet varying IT needs, integrated modular solutions promise a significant reduction on building cost and deployment time. These standardized solutions can also be deployed virtually in any location in the world.

To illustrate this better, here’s an example: a more traditional approach would be drafting a blueprint, procuring construction materials, and then constructing a home. Meanwhile, the “prefabricated” approach would be procuring a pre-built home, finding the right spot for it, and using it that same day. Between the two, obviously the prefabricated approach is more
convenient and less time-consuming.

Aside from the structure that houses all the equipment, Integrated modular solutions also contain the full suite of data centre solutions including best-in-class AC and DC power, cooling, data centre monitoring. The entire solution is constructed in a secure facility by well-trained engineers and shipped to the site, ready to use.

Modular data centres can be used in a variety of industries such as telecommunications, oil & gas, healthcare, mining, military, signaling, and data networks and are designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions, providing business-critical continuity when and where needed. Moreover, modularity enables “grow as you grow,” allowing power and cooling solutions to be sized accordingly to meet specific requirements and expanded as client needs increase.

Integrated modular solutions: Benefits and advantages
From a business standpoint, an integrated modular solution has a lot of advantages compared to traditional data centres. First, it allows for enterprises to incrementally build capacity to match demand, as opposed to traditional data centres where there is a limit to scalability. Rapid deployment also enables quicker response to unforeseen demand, resulting in faster time to
revenue. Studies have shown that integrated modular solutions cut deployment time by nearly 30% compared to the traditional build approach.

Enterprises can also deploy modular data centres as part of redundancy measures to support the traditional data centre. This is ideal particularly in disaster recovery efforts. If a storm cripples the computing infrastructure of a critical facility such as a hospital, deploying modular data centres may be the solution to ensure that delivery of healthcare services remains
unhampered.

Integrated modular solutions are typically categorized into the following deployment configurations:
• Flat Pack – the Flat Pack model provides for faster deployment to remote areas, significantly cutting down build time and cost.
• Factory Build – solutions are pre-installed and factory tested before deployment, ensuring maximum efficiency of all products upon delivery.
• ISO Containers – solutions are based on standard shipping container sizes, completed to high spec enclosures that provide for secure storage and faster transport of materials for installation on-site. These solutions can also be fire-proof, ensuring maximum protection of critical equipment.
Asia Pacific a growing market for integrated modular solutions
The advantages provided by integrated modular solutions make it attractive here in Asia Pacific. According to research conducted by DCD Intelligence, modular data centres are fast gaining adoption as a growing number of organizations are acknowledging the potential of integrated modular solutions in providing them with increased efficiency, scalability and agility. In fact, many enterprises have already carried out modular deployments, while a lot more are seriously considering them as an option.

In Myanmar, for example, a leading telecommunications company opted for the modular approach in its goal to provide fast, 3G connection to the Burmese population. The same goes for the Philippines, where a local telecommunications firm is on its way to build a state-of-the-art modular data centre for its network expansion. This new data centre is designed to withstand
disasters such as earthquakes and flooding, and is also cost efficient.

In Australia, the government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) project is building modular data centres for its goal of providing high-speed Internet access to 93 percent of homes, schools and workplaces across the country with superfast broadband download speeds of up to 100 Megabits per second (Mbps).

Change is a constant
We have seen the potential of integrated modular solutions in bridging the digital divide and bringing technology closer to people. The value of integrated modular solutions is greatly enhanced in a datacentre environment where IT demand fluctuates. Data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) technology in Modular Datacentres optimizes its performance

Data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) technology, which goes hand-in-hand with monitoring and maintaining a modular infrastructure, is a critical component to ensure efficiency and availability amid growing capacity demands. Monitoring alone is no longer enough to adequately ensure the availability of data centre infrastructure. A more holistic approach to data centre infrastructure management is required, encompassing all power, cooling, IT and support equipment to optimize capacity planning, resource allocation and equipment management.

Gaining control of the infrastructure environment leads to an optimized data centre that improves availability and energy efficiency, extends equipment life, proactively manages the inventory and capacity of the IT operation, increases the effectiveness of staff and decreases the consumption of resources.

DCIM technologies are evolving rapidly. Next-generation systems will begin to provide a true unified view of data centre operations that integrates data from IT and infrastructure systems. As this is accomplished, a true holistic data centre can be achieved.

Conclusion
Connecting people from all over the globe can be a daunting task. But today’s technologies are already making this possible. Integrated modular solutions are one option enterprises can utilize to bridge this gap, while improving efficiency and cutting on costs. As more businesses keep pace with the rapid growth of data and service demand, integrated modular solutions will play a key role in ensuring enterprises are able to roll out projects that are optimized to run efficiently, designed for maximum scalability, and planned around minimal CAPEX.