Micro-Modular Data Centres Roll Into Britain

While modular data centres based on shipping containers are appearing, self-contained rack-sized modules are rolling into the UK – some of them moving under their own power.

The Raser* and Spear*units from Elliptical Mobile Solutions are self-contained modules, each built around a single rack and containing its own cooling and power management, so it can replace the infrastructure of a data centre with a unit that can be parked in any warehouse building.

Tax-efficient upgrades

“If you build a traditional data centre, your first server costs you $40 million (£25m),” Don Kennedy, senior vice president of international sales at Elliptical, told eWEEK Europe at the Data Centre World event in London.

By contrast, the Raser unit (on the left in the picture) costs $49,500 (£30,317), which includes cooling, fire suppression and secure locking.

As well as offering a cheap start, because the module is classified as portable equipment, installing it does not alter the tax value of the building, according to Kennedy. The company is working with customers who are installing from tens to hundreds of these modules, he said.

The Raser has a 36U  rack, with a closed-loop air cooling system. It provides 12kW of IT power to the rack and 18kW including the cooling, giving it a PUE of 1.5, which can be improved to 1.2 by switching to water cooling. The unit has two power inputs and Elliptical says this means it can be part of a “true tier IV” data centre.

Tier IV only applies to complete dat centres, according to the Uptime Institute which issues those certificates, for instance to  Fujitsu’s Romford facility, according to Mark Acton, EMEA director of the Institute: “The Uptime rankings only apply to buildings, and must include generators.”

Changing the cooling system also alters the internals of the unit. When air-cooled it can hold six vertically mounted rack units beside the main rack, which can be used for networking, for instance.

In the water cooled version, the water system replaces those vertical racks, but an extra six units of space are created by the removal of air fans at the bottom of the rack, giving a single 42U rack, Kennedy explained.

Spear moves on its own

The Spear unit holds 22 standard rack units, and can be powered up to 6kW, and likewise includes its own cooling and fire suppression systems.

It also has wheels, and a motor driven system, which allows a person to maneuvre it under its own power, even up a six degree slope. This is intended for fast deployment in disaster recovery.

“We also have an off-road version,” said Kennedy.

The units are available in the UK through Daxten, which also showed its energy-saving containment systems for improving existing data centres’ performance

*We love a good acronym at eWEEK Europe. Raser is a Relocatable Adaptive Suspension Equipment Rack, and Spear is a Self-Propelled Electronic Armored Rack

Peter Judge

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

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