CommScope Unveils Modular Data Center Solution

The company says its Data Center on Demand offering will give organizations the capacity they need quickly and efficiently.

CommScope is unveiling a modular data center program that officials say will enable businesses to build or expand their computing facilities without the high up-front costs and time lags associated with traditional data centers.

Data center solutions providers and systems makers, from Hewlett-Packard and Dell to SGI and Cisco Systems, over the past several years have offered modular or portable facilities that are designed to enable organizations to more quickly and efficiently build new data centers or complement the ones they already have.

However, CommScope officials said the new Data Center on Demand solution, which the company announced March 10, goes beyond what other vendors offer.

"This is more than just a traditional modular data center offering," Kevin St Cyr, senior vice president of enterprise solutions at CommScope, said in a statement. "It is not just a shipping container with servers. It is designed specifically with the same usability and ease of access to IT equipment as a traditional data center, but with lower up-front and operating costs."

The results are facilities that are flexible, less expensive and more energy-efficient than traditional facilities, and can be added onto as business demands dictate without interrupting service, according to CommScope officials.

The company's modular data center solution comes at a time when enterprises—dealing with such trends as big data, cloud computing, virtualization, greater IT mobility and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) practices—are seeing the demand for more computing grow rapidly. Pay-as-you-grow modular data center designs are an option for these companies, many of which can't afford the high capital expenditure costs it takes to build a new data center over two or three years, CommScope officials said. At the same time, it's difficult for companies, given the increasingly dynamic nature of the technology space, to accurately forecast their IT needs 10 years down the road, forcing them to overestimate their capacity needs.

CommScope officials pointed to numbers from research firm Markets and Markets, which predicts that, by 2018, the market for modular data centers will hit $40 billion, growing 37 percent annually.

"The modular data center can be deployed in a much shorter time interval than traditional data centers, and the time to revenue for new data center services is much earlier," Ciaran Forde, vice president of global data center business for CommScope, said in post on the company blog. "Operational inefficiency in the data center makes it more difficult for organizations to stay competitive and diverts money that can be spent on more strategic investments to help drive more revenue. … The short deployment interval of the modular data center is a viable option when extra capacity is needed."

With the Data Center on Demand solution, organizations can choose from one-, four-, 10- or 20-rack building blocks, and when more capacity is needed, more building blocks can be added, with no interruption to the facility's operations, the company said. The solution can scale from one to thousands of racks. The designs are standardized and repeatable, and the configurations can be customized.

The solution also comes with built-in data center infrastructure management capabilities via CommScope's iTRACS technology, which the company acquired last year. In addition, it's much more energy-efficient than traditional data centers, which typically have power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratings ranging from 1.8 to 2.9. PUEs track the energy efficiency of a facility by measure the amount of power that is used by the computing equipment, in contrast to cooling and other overhead. An ideal PUE is 1.0. According to CommScope, its modular data centers will have a PUE as low as 1.03 to 1.06.