Tomorrow’s Facilities Management: Modular Data Centres And Edge Computing

With edge computing on the rise, we explain why modular data centres are set to become a facilities manager’s best friend.

Nearly 7-in-10 (69%) organisations in the UK have more than 1,000 ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) devices on their network. For nearly a fifth (19%), that figure’s actually 10,000-plus.

Sensor-based machinery and equipment are transforming our personal and professional lives. From the factory floor or office block, through to shopping centres and sports stadia, we’re experiencing an IoT revolution.

For facilities managers, this has led to massive improvements in building energy efficiency, productivity, and maintenance. The upcoming era of superfast 5G promises even greater things.

But as we explain to Tomorrow’s Facilities Management (FM) magazine, this ongoing trend means huge changes to data centre design.

Moves To Modular Data Centres

A data-driven world depends on instantaneous computer processing. So sending data all the way to a cloud or enterprise data centre and back doesn’t cut the mustard.

It requires huge volumes of expensive bandwidth. It opens up cybersecurity risks. And most importantly, in an era where every millisecond counts, it’s simply too slow.

These reasons are why edge computing is on the rise. Edge brings the processing near to the origin of the data through smaller data centres close to the building.

As a result, low latency processing is the norm. Demand for bandwidth is reduced. And more information can be stored locally, lowering the risk of data loss or corruption.

However, for facilities managers this poses obvious problems. How do you install a data centre in places not originally designed for that specific purpose?

BIRD’S EYE VIEW: A model of how a containerised modular data centre cluster can look

We explain why more and more estates management professionals are turning to modular data centres. Also known as micro data centres, these are basically prefabricated server rooms ‘shrunk’ into a compact footprint.

They’re often housed inside a secure fire and weather-proof steel container. While they look like an upcycled shipping container, they function exactly like any hyperscale or colocation data centre.

Modular data centres include all the standard technologies and elements such as UPS systems, cooling, PDUs, and communications software. But obviously in a vastly smaller floor space.

That’s why modular data centres are suitable for confined spaces such as empty offices or corners of warehouses. They can even be installed outside in a car park or on a building’s roof.

Our article goes on to explain why modular uninterruptible power supplies are the natural partner for micro data centres. That’s because modular UPS offers the same compactness, scalability, and versatility.

Read the full article from page 46 in May’s edition of Tomorrow’s FM