Data center options come in all shapes and sizes. On the small end you have the micro data center. The micro data center offers a variety of solutions, designed to support up to a full rack of IT load equipment. These boxes can be entirely self-contained, including space for all the IT load equipment, cooling and backup power. Their small size and the minimal impact they have on the surrounding environment means that micro data centers can be deployed just about anywhere in your business.
The next step up is the containerized data center. This configuration has a complete data center built into a structure resembling a shipping container — 20 or even 40 feet tall. Depending on your needs, you may have a single container or multiple containers, with some dedicated to IT load and others dedicated to backup power and cooling. Containerized data centers are designed to sit in a dedicated building, a parking lot alongside your facility, or a similar location in the field. They can be used as your primary facility, a method of expanding an existing data center, a field expedient for a specific project, or simply as a secondary site for backup/disaster recovery/business continuity.
It’s important not to confuse a containerized data center with what is called a “modular” data center, though. The two terms are often used interchangeably in the industry, but — although both data center options can be placed in outdoor locations and are completely self-contained — they are not the same. A modular data center features a standardized configuration of racks, power and cooling that can be deployed as an individual unit within a greater data center facility or plan. Modular data centers are especially useful when you’re looking to upgrade an existing data center facility.