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Modular Containment Checklist for Understanding Your Data Center Layout

Posted by QuoteColo on August 25, 2016 - Updated on August 24, 2016


When most people think of datacenters, the same general idea comes to mind. Usually, it’s a large area, almost like a warehouse, packed with servers and lots of blinking lights. However, in their very short history, a new version, called a modular containment data center has found a lot of popularity. If you’re curious about securing one, the following will help you better understand what it will take.

What Is a Modular Containment Data Center?

First, let’s agree upon what this type of data center entails. As popular as they have become, there are a number of different definitions out there. In this article, we’re going to be describing more of an approach to datacenter design than a strict architecture. However, the basic idea involves an ISO (International Standards Organization) shipping container with servers stored inside.

The Container

So let’s begin the checklist here. You’ll need a container of some sort; it doesn’t have to be an ISO unit, but this remains the most common choice. Obviously, the container should have enough space to meet your hardware needs. If you have the budget, though, you can always buy two or more.


This part of the term is worth referencing as well, though it’s not so much an item on your checklist. “Modular” here refers to the approach of this type of datacenter. It implies either a method of deployment for delivering the datacenter infrastructure or a prefabricated datacenter module.

The Server Racks

One drawback of a modular containment datacenter is that you’re limited in terms of space. This is why it’s so important that you plan out your datacenter as much as possible prior to building it. If you end up needing more room, you’ll need a whole other container. Still, with enough planning, you’ll still have plenty of space for vertical server racks.

Power Distribution and UPS

We’re not talking about a self-contained unit here, so there’s no need to waste space on a generator. The power will be coming from outside the unit. You’ll need a power distribution platform to disperse it, though.

You’ll also need a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). This apparatus is going to provide emergency power should the main power fail for whatever reason.

IP Camera

Your modular containment unit also needs an IP camera. The Internet Protocol camera is for security purposes, but can send and receive data through the Internet or computer network. Even if you keep your unit in a secure location, this is still wise in case you need to backtrack a series of events that led to a problem with the hardware.

Smoke/Heat Detector

For safety reasons, you need a smoke detector. A combination smoke/heat detector makes more sense, though, as it will also alert you if the unit is becoming too hot and your servers are in danger.

Cold Aisle Containment

This feature is made up of a physical barrier that allows a certain amount of air to pool inside the aisle. Usually, it’s made up of a roof system and aisle end doors that are able to contain this supply of air.

Air Conditioning

Finally, some type of air conditioning unit is going to be necessary. This is a standard piece of any datacenter. For this particular type of unit, though, you’re going to need one that can also handle uneven heat distribution. Some companies even use cool air from outside to keep their datacenter’s temperature in check.

Modular containment datacenters may not be the industry standard, but they sure have found a lot of fans in a short period of time. If you’re looking to make the most of limited space or you want to better control the environment inside your datacenter, the above checklist will help you create a modular containment datacenter of your own.

Categories: Data Center

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