Energy management specialist Schneider Electric has announced two new modular power and cooling products for use in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The modular units enable data centre power and cooling capacity to be added in 500kW increments, allowing physical infrastructure to be matched with the IT load and reducing inefficiency and wasted energy.

According to Schneider, the modular approach to data centre construction helps to remove unnecessary complexity as well as saving time and money spent on field construction and integration.

Speaking at the Datacenter Dynamics Converged conference in London, Tony Day, global director of data centre projects and professional services, said that modules have an advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar data centres because:

•    they are quicker to deploy,
•    they can be scaled up and down,
•    they are tuned for maximum energy efficiency,
•    they use manufactured components, limiting product defects and reducing overall design and installation time.

“The key thing about modularity is it allows standardisation,” said Day. “Eventually these systems will become inventory items off the shelf. Eventually, it should be possible to get the build time down to four weeks.

“Standardisation does not mean that one size fits all,” he added. “Our clients’ needs are very individual. However, the basic building blocks are becoming increasingly standardised.”

Schneider’s power modules offer a high-efficiency UPS, which is scalable and fault tolerant. They feature hot-swappable power modules to enable users to adopt a pay-as-you-grow approach to power protection, and minimise mean time to repair (MTTR).

Other features include a segregated battery room, primary and critical panels, separate cable chambers to simplify hook-up, and a fully-integrated cooling system with free-cooling capability. They can be stacked either vertically or side by side, and can be delivered by road.

Meanwhile, the cooling modules have integrated free-air cooling and can operate in a wide range of temperatures, from -25 to 50 degrees centigrade. They comprise six 100kW chiller units, and are fault tolerant in N+1 configuration.

Although the power and cooling boxes are currently only available in 500kW boxes, Schneider is also working on 750kW and 1MW versions. “When you have that range of building blocks you can really configure whatever kind of data centre you want,” Day told Techworld.

He said that while most customers as the moment will add modules to supplement their existing brick and mortar data centres, eventually the industry will move to a complete end-to-end modular model. Cloud providers are already showing signs of moving in this direction, because they require massive scalability.

“If you go back a few years and said to people I want you to put your IT in a container, most people would have said no way, but the cloud is an ideal way to do it,” said Day. “On a cloud farm, one box goes down, they just move on to the next box.”