Support Web-Scale IT Architecture with Modular Structures

Web-scale infrastructure brings the scalability and flexibility users are demanding as many have transitioned to virtual school, work and consumer environments. The benefits from web-scale IT are coupled with demands for massive compute and storage capacity coupled with lightning-fast speed and agility.

Web-scale IT has typically been associated companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook. The web-scale model has fundamentally altered the way IT services are delivered, and organizations are under increasing pressure to keep pace.

According to Gartner, "Web-scale IT looks to change the IT value chain in a systemic fashion, […] Data centers are designed with an industrial engineering perspective that looks for every opportunity to reduce cost and waste. This goes beyond redesigning facilities to be more energy efficient to also include in-house design of key hardware components such as servers, storage and networks. Web-oriented architectures allow developers to build very flexible and resilient systems that recover from failure more quickly." This means data center facilities must be designed to optimize environmental conditions while enabling rapid deployment.

Changing Data Center Design

Traditional data center designs are giving way to a flexible approach based upon self-contained, modular structures. A recent report by Global Market Insights points out that key market players are increasingly relying on modular structures. “[They] are constantly seeking new ways to manage their rising data, triggering the market adoption of modular data centers for edge computing applications. For instance, in March 2020, Google and AT&T announced a partnership to deploy modular data centers for edge computing and 5G enablement across the U.S.”

Why are we seeing this shift? Modular structures incorporate all the components of a modern aisle containment design in freestanding units that can be rapidly assembled onsite and can streamline and support web-scale architecture initiatives. See how modular structures compare to a traditional data center deployment for web-scale IT.

Traditional Data Center Deployment Vs. Modular Structures for Web-Scale IT

The best way to look at the benefits of supporting web-scale IT with prefabricated structures is to compare them with traditional data center deployments.

Prefabricated systems enable organizations to reduce the time and cost associated with data center deployment and create a more consistent environment that responds to changing requirements. Modular structures further increase cooling efficiencies, which enables organizations to maintain optimum temperatures at a lower cost. With a modular structure, all components are incorporated into a prefabricated system. To minimize waste, materials are cut and assembled to exact specifications. A single vendor handles the entire process, and all phases are completed at once.

Traditional data center facilities are built from the ground up by anchoring server cabinets and racks to the floor then adding aisle containment, cable routing and overhead power distribution. The process is labor-intensive, and waste occurs when materials are cut to fit onsite. Of course, the greatest waste is in time — each component is typically handled by a different contractor, and each phase must be completed before the next phase can begin. This process is counterintuitive to the requirements from a web-scale architecture.

Use the chart below to compare the two deployment methods

Traditional Data Center Deployment Modular Structures
Server cabinets and racks are mounted to the floor. A contractor must be engaged to drill holes in the data center floor and anchor the cabinets. Server cabinets and racks are bolted to the freestanding structure.
Once the cabinets and racks are in place, a contractor must be engaged to install the hot or cold aisle containment system. Aisle containment is integrated into the structure.
A cabling contractor is then engaged to install basket tray, ladder rack or fiber runner duct systems within, across and along the aisles to route data and fiber cables to each cabinet and rack, and back to the main distribution frame. The structure includes a cable routing system that is laid out, cut and color coded according to the customer's requirements.
An electrical contractor must be engaged to install an overhead busway power distribution system. The busway system is already mounted onto the modular structure.

By comparing the two side by side, it is clear how a structure can get an organization on the fast track to a web-scale architecture model. Learn more about the advantages of a modular structure.

The Modular Structure Advantage Modular structures enable organizations to develop a corporate standard for their data center infrastructure. With a prefabricated system, the design can be replicated — not only within the same facility but across multiple data center facilities. By creating consistency throughout the enterprise, modular structures streamline data center management processes and facilitate moves, adds and changes.

Because a modular structure supports the overhead busway, cable routing and aisle containment components, the building’s ceiling system does not have to handle the load. This eliminates the need to build or retrofit the roof with ceiling support grids. The only modifications to the building involve anchoring the structure to the floor.

Modular structures reduce the number of connections required for the data center infrastructure. The structure requires just one power connection, one data in-feed and one cooling inlet. A prefabricated structure also enables an organization to improve a facility’s power usage effectiveness (PUE), the measure of how much energy is consumed by computing equipment versus cooling and other overhead.

What’s more, modular structures have a defined footprint, enabling organizations to accurately calculate how much cooling is needed for the equipment installed within the structure. There is no need to overbuild power and cooling systems to support the entire facility.

Summing it Up

As more enterprises seek to gain the benefits of an agile, cost-optimized data center environment, the web-scale IT model will continue to increase in popularity. Web-scale IT is a set of architectures and best practices that are designed to reduce cost and waste while accelerating technology deployments. Web-scale IT focuses on tightly integrated systems and optimized processes.

Modular structures have become a core component of the web-scale IT environment. Because they eliminate the need for complex, multi-phase buildouts, these prefabricated systems reduce the time needed to construct the data center infrastructure. They also help optimize cooling, cabling, power distribution and more, while reducing costs and enhancing efficiency.

DAMAC has leveraged its expertise in web-scale data center infrastructure to develop a state-of-the-art modular structure system. With its durable tubular steel construction, this proven, turnkey solution provides a flexible, scalable platform for web-scale IT deployments. Contact our team to discuss your data center’s needs.


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