Last week, HP announced its plans for a concept of prefabricated data centers called the “Butterfly” for its wing-like structure. According to Greener Computing in their report of the story, “The company’s Flexible Data Center allows a more cost-effective way to build compute centers that can grow quickly as needed, rather than build for future technology needs.”
HP is not the only one to take up this modular approach to designing data centers. Microsoft, eBay, and smaller companies such as i/o Data Centers are all looking for ways to standardize the process of building a data center. Data center modules, sometimes called containers, are a response to this need.
Assembled in a factory, these containers can be shipped by truck to on-site locations and attached to existing data centers with relative ease – they are designed for scalability and offer less headaches as a result of IT hardware expansion.
One of the interesting cultural observations that the article on containers by Data Center Knowledge observes is that, despite the economic advantages of modular designs for data centers, there is still a stigma attached to them that must be overcome. After all, IT is serious business, and automatizing a process currently undertaken by trained professionals, hauling in a trailer-looking box of prefabricated computer equipment instead of individual customized units, seems almost demeaning.
But necessity is not only the mother of invention but also accommodation. If modular data center designs make mass computing easier and more efficient, then they are a worthwhile development.