US government suggests data centres go modular


They didn’t quite say that, and certainly didn’t mention Lego, but the US State Department is urging data centres to develop a modular strategy because it believes it will help save on energy consumption and costs, as well as save the world. 

They didn’t quite say that either, but environmental concerns are certainly uppermost in the thinking of the US government when it comes to data centres.

One of the reasons for this is the growing public concern about the number of data centres popping up here and there, almost without warning, and the facilities’ tendency to use up huge amounts of electricity.

Apple, for example, had some opposition to its proposed data centre in Ireland, but has now been given the green light.

The US Department of Energy estimates that data centres use up about 3 per cent of the electricity supply of the US national grid – a hefty slice given we are talking about literally the world’s most powerful nation.

The US Department of Energy is asking data centres to become more energy efficient, suggesting power-saving methods, arguing that they could use “81 per cent less energy”.

The State Department is apparently leading by example in migrating its IT from leased data centre facilities to modular data centres on government-owned property.

As quoted on, Melonie Parker-Hill, division chief of the enterprise operations center at the State Department, says the move has been beneficial.

“We’ve been able to make many gains and leaps and bounds here,” she says. “I won’t say everything that was in the 11,000 square is going into the 800 square but just about.”

The market for modular data centres is growing, according to various sources, including Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, which is said to be the world’s leading supplier of data centre servers.

And one of the world’s leading suppliers of microprocessors to data centres, Intel, is increasing its investment in the sector.

The Intel Data Center business unit is said to deliver around half of the company’s profit margin and is expected to grow approximately 15 per cent through 2018.

Modular data centres tend to be mobile and more flexible. Combined with software-defined systems, and the changes brought about by the internet of things, modularity is likely to bring another significant change to the data centre operations of the digital business of today.

Among the advantages of modular data centres are said to be that they are environmentally less costly and they can be constructed and taken down much faster.

And as shown on, the structures look like any other other data centre.

As Richard Guinn, Project Frog CEO, says: “Rapid deployment is key to effectively serving the growing data center market.

“It is possible for speed, quality, and affordability to coexist and we are proving it on a large scale.”

Project Frog has partnered with Aecom to develop what the companies call the “Converge” data centre kit. The companies say their kit “results in an accelerated construction schedule which materially increases the speed to market of a revenue-producing data center anywhere in the world”.

Essentially, all the parts for the data centre are made in advance – or prefabricated – in a factory and then taken to the construction site, where they are assembled.