Modular Data Centers Are Better for the Environment
Modular data centers are moldable and upgradable, unlike conventional data centers, which are fixed designs. Why are modular data centers more sustainable?
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Data centers are the secret behind robust, successful networks — and they use a lot of energy. With every day leading humans to a more developed and connected world, these data centers are becoming focal points of the sustainability conversation for the tech sector. One of the top solutions experts present is modular data centers. These centers seek to optimize operations and energy efficiency for a greener future, but is the effort to make the shift worth it?
How Different Are Modular Data Centers?
Data centers are responsible for 1% of the world’s electricity demand. Though this doesn’t seem like a large number, it will only increase as technological needs increase. That translates to around 200 TWh of electricity, most of which runs on fossil fuels and isn’t optimized for current internet activity.
Prefabricated modular data centers (PMDCs) combine the ideology behind sustainable architecture with sustainable networking. Data centers need to be placed in secure facilities to protect technology from environmental threats, and manufacturers prep the buildings and contents of the PMDC with this in mind.
They are moldable and upgradable, unlike conventional data centers, which are fixed designs that leave little room for manipulation or recycling. The greater the customization and scaling capabilities within these PMDCs, the more sustainable they can be.
The low malleability of traditional data centers means they use many resources to create, repair, and upgrade the parts. When processes are high maintenance like this, not only could data centers experience potential outages for a simple fix, but the entire supply chain and parts process could experience delays in attempting to accommodate niche needs.
Users need a lot of bandwidth to do anything online, from making a living to participating in the metaverse. Data centers in the modern age need to adapt quickly, especially for increased cloud usage and data storage.
However, old technologies will not be so accepting of a bandwidth increase. Overhauls need to happen, and the supply chain for traditional data centers is not only in short supply, but they can scale using sustainable technologies.
What Eco-Friendly Solutions Do PMDCs Provide?
To analyze how sustainable PMDCs are compared to their traditional counterparts, examining their impact on the environment is vital.
Data centers use a lot of power to meet demand. Because traditional data centers use so much energy, they emit a lot of heat, making expenses and resources for cooling these technologies expensive and wasteful. Most modular data centers use liquid cooling, allowing for the optimization of space and utility usage.
They are also better for the environment because of reduced assembly time. This provides a competitive advantage on top of a sustainable one because the faster a company can accommodate its clientele, the more it can acquire.
PMDCs also give companies more options for building locations. This has a ripple effect concerning its sustainability. PMDCs could fit into reclaimed facilities, reducing the need to build from scratch. It could allow centers to move closer to headquarters instead of preselecting from far away locations, requiring less labor and travel time for continued maintenance. They can also be in areas that optimize for renewable energy, such as where wind power is notably powerful.
This leaves more time for implementing monitoring and troubleshooting smart technologies, increasing the eco-friendly nature of the data center. The time and finances saved with these processes offer more financial freedom to find more ways to make the center greener, such as installing solar panels or finding ways to sustainably source materials.
Doing so is particularly helpful for individual PMDCs for specific organizations. Traditional data centers build to meet 100% capacity immediately. If they want to plan for the future, then additional tech has to be present — but it wastes energy and space and could become obsolete. PMDCs don’t have to worry about this and instead just build up from a solid foundation.
If one organization knows its data usage reaches a certain amount, it can configure its PMDC to fit that demand without paying to power wasted energy. Small outfits can tailor the technology to their needs, ensuring they aren’t overpaying for materials or energy they aren’t using either.
What Are the Benefits of PMDCs?
Because PMDC units are prebuilt, it eases manufacturing pressure and expedites assembly, reducing costs. This means a severe reduction in bottlenecks. Data centers can easily calculate the exact energy and resource expenditure since PMDCs are preselected designs, making it easier to find ways to enhance the process.
Improvements come more efficiently since one change will apply to the entire operation instead of specific places. Implementing a modular data center is the first in a long line of sustainability improvements, though, since workers could find small ways to make each part and every process more streamlined.
With this in mind, staffing data centers will also be less labor intensive, allowing more employees to continue working toward sustainable tech initiatives, such as incorporating or finding ways to innovate hyper-converged infrastructure models further. Those working in the data centers can monitor for efficiency and brainstorm enhancements, reporting, and replacing as needed.
Because it’s easy to add and remove outdated technologies, new and more eco-friendly products could easily be inserted in their place — such as more energy-efficient uninterruptible power supplies. Seamless implementation could save companies time, money, and resources. It also reduces e-waste, a growing problem worldwide as a byproduct of planned obsolescence.
This also coincides with how customizable modular data centers can be. Instead of having an entire center full of features a company may not use, modular structures allow data center investors to choose according to their specific needs.
Modular Data Centers Promote Sustainability
To accommodate an increase in bandwidth while reducing energy and resource consumption, modular data centers could offer a great solution. Switching to these highly customizable and resource-efficient networks will not only propel the internet into a new age of data usage capabilities, but it can be gentler on the environment with reduced e-waste and carbon emissions.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.
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