The Rise of the Micro Data Center.

data center defined

A data center is a physical location used to house computer systems and related components, such as servers, switches and storage. It includes backup power supplies, redundant connections, in-room environment control (e.g., air conditioning, fire suppression) and security. The largest data centers are industrial scale operations which consume as much electricity as a small town.

the birth of the data center

Data centers have their roots in the large-scale computer rooms that started to appear in the 1950’s when early computer systems were large, power hungry and needed a cold, dry and secure environment to operate. The requirement to connect many different devices meant that the construction of a data center was a complex and expensive affair. During the boom of the microcomputer industry in the 1980s, computers started to be used everywhere, with little concern about operating requirements. PCs soon started to find their way into the old computer rooms to be used for central storage or running company-wide programs. These computers were called ‘servers’.

the path to efficiency

Much has changed since the old mainframes of the 50’s and 60’s when the computers and their tape and disk drives filled entire rooms, and highly-skilled and expensive engineers were needed to schedule jobs, load tapes, switch disk packs, and ensure the data center environment remained cool and secure.

the containerized data center is born

As one direction for the data center is increasing size, efficiency and scale, the other route for companies has been to look for smaller, cheaper and more flexible containment. Containerized data centers were cheaper to build, run and maintain and gave some flexibility if they needed to be moved at a later date.

containerized data centers give way to modularity

Modular data centers imply a range of pre-fabricated data center modules which can be deployed in a standard configuration and assembled to quickly create a small / mid-size data centre

say hello to the micro data center

As equipment gets smaller, more companies need secure, climate controlled containment as well as a cloud-based backup solution – modular and containerized data centers become Micro Data Centers (MDCs). These units replicate all of the cooling, security and power capabilities of a traditional data center, but on a much smaller scale – the size of an average fridge – freezer. They’re self-contained, simple to manage and run and they are also portable. They’re used to house critical infrastructure either in-house or in infrastructure-poor remote locations, without having to build a traditional data center. Most also offer integrated remote management, monitoring and security, where customers can change/remove data center access to specific individuals, or monitor the data canter’s temperature, humidity, vibration, flooding and power remotely.

Client use cases include:

  • Companies with many remote offices / branches use MDCs to roll out a standardised unit to all locations and then manage them remotely. The MDC is secure enough to keep local staff from interfering with the IT equipment.
  • Companies and organisations who want to keep some data storage or processing power within their offices, not entirely in the cloud, e.g. location based processing for developers or sensitive personal data for hospitals.
  • SMEs who don’t need a full server room but need somewhere safe and controlled to house their IT.
  • Companies wanting/needing to implement a solution at the edge of the network due to the IoT and bandwidth and latency challenges.