Arizona Study: Modular Data Center Most Efficient

The energy efficiency debate has long raged between proponents of modular data centers and advocates of the raised floor configuration. Few studies have established a clear victor, and it’s hard to entrust data center research to companies that obviously slant in favor of their product offerings. Power consumption and potential savings are high priorities for many businesses looking to invest in data center solutions. With measures like California’s recently passed greenhouse gas emissions bill, which will penalize inefficient energy consumers, energy efficiency is increasingly important to data center providers as well.

IO, uniquely positioned as a leading provider of both modular data centers and standard build-out facilities, recently tried to settle the debate by commissioning a third-party evaluation of modular and raised-floor data center models. The evaluation was conducted by Arizona Public Service (APS). For the entirety of 2012, APS evaluated the power usage effectiveness (PUE) of an IO.Anywhere® data center module and a traditional IO build-out model, both installed at IO’s Phoenix data center. The study found that the modular data center attained a 19 percent energy cost savings through better PUE ratings.

The traditional build-out environment, described as Data Center 1.0 by IO, posted a PUE of 1.73, bested by the Data Center 2.0 module’s 1.41 PUE rating. The difference would translate to $200,000 in annual savings per megawatt of IT power.

“Our calculations did show that the IO.Anywhere modular data center uses less energy than a traditional build-out, at least in the case of this IO data center,” stated Wayne Dobberpuhl, APS Energy Efficiency Program Manager. “Moving forward, we are working with IO to establish the right baseline for assessing the appropriate rebate for this efficiency work under our Solutions for Business program.”

In some respects, the results fall in line with general assumptions – smaller, compact data centers are easier to control. Behemoth infrastructure like cooling systems can only be so large in a modular environment, while in a raised-floor model they can continue to grow. However, the significant savings that modular data centers offer could entice companies into investing in several of these factory-ready facilities for their onsite needs instead of outsourcing them to a traditional facility.

WiredRE is commercializing its own rapid deployment modular data center, which is expected to reach the market nationally in Q1, 2014 and have a PUE of less than 1.25.

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