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Modular Magic: How a non-traditional modular data centre can bring you significant savings

Adil Attlassy, Chief Development Officer, IO | May 17, 2016
Data centres have been quite misunderstood. Most people think they’re just ‘server boxes’ and while that definition may be true on a very basic level, it’s these ‘boxes’ that drive the modern economy.

After a year of testing and monitoring, it was found that a customer with 1 megawatt (MW) of IT load will require 1.73MW of facility power in a traditional raised floor environment versus 1.41MW in a modular environment. The difference might seem small but a .32MW savings over the course of 8,760 hours in a year has a direct impact on energy cost, the amount of water used, and overall carbon emission levels.

The figure below shows the total amount of savings incurred through using a modular design.


Value per kWh

Estimated Savings for a Modular Data Centre


SGD 0.20

SGD 560,000

Carbon Emissions

0.443 kgCO2e

1,240,400 kgCO2eW

Water Usage

3.15 L

8,830,080 L




Total cost, carbon emission, and water savings incurred when using a modular data centre design (right-hand column)

The results say 'Go modular'

The comparative study demonstrated that IO's modular data centre deployment resulted in 19% energy cost savings and 44% energy waste reduction compared to the traditional raised-floor data centre environment.

In a modular design, each module houses a much smaller volume of air per server than an open floor. Furthermore, high density modules can sit next to low density modules and the cooling system can cater to the requirements of each. IO's modules are cooled via a bi-directional chilled water loop that runs around the bottom of the units. This approach allows for large amounts of savings just on cooling alone.

With a modular approach, data centre capacity can also be deployed in smaller units and on-demand, just as storage compute and networking are delivered. This eliminates the wasteful over-provisioning of capacity found in traditional environments, thus reducing an organisation's energy costs and carbon footprint.

From a business standpoint, the modular data centre concept also lowers business risk. Companies don't have to build entire sites based on an anticipated three to five year forecast. Instead they can build their data centres for the twelve to 18 months and add capacity as needed, as additional units can be added to the modular sites to increase capacity quickly as needs change. This allows organisations to manage their cash flow better and invest in other business segments as needed.

Overall, the case to go modular is strong - your data centre should be an asset that grows and adapts to internal business changes or the greater IT world versus being an underutilized, over- provisioned, and expensive investment.


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