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The Case for Prefabricated Modular Datacentres has been Made


By Faith Waithaka, Cloud and Service Provider Segment Sales Lead: Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric

The prefabricated modular datacentre is not a new concept by any means, offering a fast and scalable alternative to brick-and-mortar. However, it is only the last five years that its adoption has enjoyed some major growth, with companies regarding it as a bona fide route to deploying datacentres.

In Africa, prefabricated modular datacentres are enjoying some exciting growth; the continent’s increasing demand for data storage, processing and connectivity is driving innovation in the sector. These modular structures offer a dynamic response to the need for rapid deployment, standardisation and sustainability.

Unpacking the benefits

Prefabricated datacentres, as the name suggest, consist of pre-built modules that house various components critical to datacentre functionality. The modules fall into categories such as power, cooling, and IT.

Due to its modular nature, organisations can then choose a combination of these modules to create a tailored solution that best meets their specific requirements.

One of the major advantages of prefabricated data centres is the efficiency and predictability it brings to the construction process. Unlike traditional datacentres, where one must contend with the variability of numerous contractors and handling material and availability, prefabricated datacentres are produced in a controlled factory environment.

This controlled setting ensures higher quality and consistency in construction, enabling precise timelines and outcomes.

When one considers the varied materials and standards across different regions in Africa, prefabricated solutions offer a viable path to standardisation and predictability. Organisations operating across the continent can expect the same level of quality and materials, whether in South Africa, the DRC, Nigeria, Ghana, or Kenya.

This consistency simplifies project management and allows engineers to work on a standard basis, facilitating smooth expansions and upgrades.

Sustainable expansion

Africa’s adoption of prefabricated modular datacentres is also rooted in lessons learnt from our global peers. In countries such as Germany, some brick-and-mortar hyperscale datacentres are reaching its end of life which creates a conundrum of sort, how do you shutdown these facilities in sustainable manner?

In fact, according to various research papers, datacentres are become obsolete fast due to the technologies incredibly fast paced advancements. With a lifespan of around 15 years, these massive facilities become technology graveyards reminiscent of an eerie Sci-fi movie.

Prefabricated data centres offer a more flexible solution, allowing these facilities to be quickly disassembled and relocated to other regions which will have use for some of the modules, thereby preserving infrastructure integrity and extending its lifespan.

At Schneider Electric, our prefabricated datacentres are built sustainably; we fabricate 90% of the parts to mitigate waste, optimise efficiency, and reduce the footprint of the datacentre. Furthermore, we drive sustainable practices throughout our supply chain to ensure that products are produced and transported in a responsible manner.

Lastly, where possible, our local partners are responsible for building the prefabricated datacentres, thus reducing transport costs whilst investing in the local marketplace.

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