Why Modular is STILL Not There…

I just saw a video posted by Schneider Electric about their modular data center – you can watch it here.

Having followed and been part of the modular data center movement since its inception, and still the only person (that I know of) who has NOT worked for a modular manufacturer and has sold a modular data center (I sold a Cirrascale FOREST container to NASA) I am still blown away by the fact that modular data centers are STILL not solutions. They are products. I don’t care what Gartner says. Especially for multi tenant applications.

Blunt Hammer worked over the past year to build a business that was the first of its kind – a standardized multi tenant data center platform that was modular. The venture ran out of money and the initial funding source opted out of the A Round, however when I see videos like the Schneider one I still shake my head. Why? Because the elephant in the room and the very obvious and totally crucial piece of the solution is overlooked or assumed to be in place – a site where the modular data center will go or can go. Every video, whitepaper, or presentation makes a colossal assumption that a customer has the perfect site so the modular products can just snap into place. It doesn’t work that way. I’d be happy to prove it, call me.

IO is probably the closest option to a holistic offering, if you want your outsourced data center to be in NJ or AZ or Singapore. The limiting factor for their expansion (and Dell, and HP, and Cirrascale, and Colt, and BladeRoom) is that NONE of these guys bring site selection to the ‘solution’. Thinking that a customer wants to fool around with site selection, due diligence, purchase & sale agreements, zoning, CCR’s, and the rest of it.   I can tell you from experience, they don’t. If there is no place to put a modular or prefab data center then you don’t have a solution, you have a product that will be part of a solution. If you don’t have a methodology to drive how you find the right site, it’s the wrong site. There are very few real estate people who understand site selection, and even fewer with a methodology they can produce, let alone follow.

When we started down the path of modeling a company to deliver a modular platform, we started with what you need to start with – site selection. Once we determined the area of the United States where our site selection criteria was met, we focused on counties and regions where the methodology held up. Once we figured out the county, then we looked in 3 different towns. Then we looked at 7 different sites in the town we wanted to be in. We met with Economic Development people, we met with State Senators, State Representatives, even the Governor to make sure that the social aspects of a project were ok and wouldn’t create headaches initially or over time.  Once we had the site, we looked at the technology, not the other way around. Why? Because the technology and the products BY THEIR VERY NATURE can go anywhere. So we picked the spot where we would put the technology and made sure it was the best place to put it.

The other piece of the puzzle was we needed to do this at scale. Why? Because our belief is that a single facility is not a data center company, two is the lowest level of suitable, and that to have at least 5, preferably 10 is the way to go. So we found 5 cities to expand into that had similar attributes for low levels of risk and the right components of critical infrastructure.

So we understand this modular/prefab world as well as anyone. We know what goes into a project, into site selection, into design, into the business of a data center. If you want to deliver a successful project using modular technology, contact us. We know what we’re doing, and would be happy to prove it.

mark@blunthammer.com

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