Speed-to-market has taken up residence alongside total cost of ownership (TCO) in the top echelon of data center owners’ wish lists these days. For many, having a quickly deployable data center is essential to having a flexible growth strategy. Increasingly, this speed-to-market has been driven by a fundamental change in the way companies think of data centers. For example, smaller, modular designs have replaced the data center “cathedrals” with a faster-deploying alternative. Modular data centers typically rely upon repetition of smaller units, eliminating the cost and convenience benefits of a single, larger data center. However, the resulting designs often yield a rigid framework. As a result, users can wind up with added costs if the available modular solutions don’t match up to their needs.

When a leading data center developer needed more than 4MW of 2N power quickly and efficiently installed at a new site, it needed a hybrid solution due to its unique setup. The white space and other occupied areas were built through a traditional construction process, but electrical rooms were separated out and fabricated using a modular approach. San Jose, Calif.-based NxGen Modular, a specialty manufacturer of modular mission-critical buildings and assemblies, answered the call for a customized approach, installing its first two NxPower electrical rooms at the beginning of March. The modular electrical system offers a power distribution system that includes uninterruptible power supplies and batteries, switchgear, transfer switches, and an integrated monitoring system.

Three weeks following the first phase of the installation, two more electrical rooms were delivered. Once the modular pieces arrived on-site, installation of each 2,000-sq-ft room took place in about 10 hours. This was followed by four to five days of work to reconnect cables that had been pulled back from the shipping splits. The entire process required a 14-foot-wide access point in the building, which was patched up shortly after the skids were in place.

The speedy installation was made possible because the modules were fully constructed, assembled, and tested offsite at the manufacturer's facility. The first few steps of commissioning the electrical modules also took place at the factory. Before shipping, the cables were pulled back and the modules were both split into three separate parts — each just under the limit of what can be shipped on the U.S. highway system.

In total, it took NxGen 14 weeks to deliver the modules to the client’s construction site from the day the client signed the contract. This included integrating the customer’s own switchgear, testing the solution, disassembling, packaging and shipping it across the country. While a fully modular solution could potentially be implemented faster, for many data center owners the combination of stick-built convenience and modular speed is hard to turn down.