Data centers are large energy consumers but are a necessity in today’s computer-oriented society, which is why companies such as Cyrus One, with data center facilities across the country in Phoenix, Cincinnati, Chicago, and several in Texas, work to improve efficiency in any way it can.
Cyrus One has what it calls its Massively Modular approach. The company has a set data center design that can be replicated across the country and on line in an average of just 16 weeks. “We aim to be the one-stop-shop for the most efficient options in any given market in which we do business,” says Kevin Timmons, chief technology officer at Cyrus One.
Flexible and efficient, the modular strategy provides customers with exactly the services they need, fast. “It is essentially modularity at every level but in a large-format facility,” Timmons says. “We have physical footprint flexibility and flexibility in terms of different redundancy levels, all on the same infrastructure.”
Along with being customizable to the needs of each customer, the modular approach offers a number of environmental benefits. Cyrus One can fine-tune the system to capitalize on the site specifics of each data center. “In Phoenix, we sat down with our design team and looked at the plot of land, the prevailing winds, temperatures, humidity, and so on,” Timmons says. Planning for the site also allows Cyrus One to use evaporative cooling and other energy-efficient systems. With the modular systems, the company focuses on the efficiency of the mechanical plant and the extensive use of plug-and-play cooling units to minimize the environmental impact of the manufacturing and transportation streams.
Recent data centers, such as one in Chandler, Arizona, built by JE Dunn Construction, showcase the sustainable features of the massively modular design. Timmons says that a noticeable feature of the new centers is the big boxes, which are actually the cooling units that plug into the side of the building. These external units allow Cyrus One to scale up or down to accommodate the needs of the customers using each facility.
“When we’re designing a center, we can’t predict what kind of customers are going to come into the facility, so we design it with tons of flexibility,” Timmons says. If higher-density customers demand more power, the site is scaled up. But when customer requirements call for fewer resources, the design is scaled down to eliminate waste. “Every one of those units that we don’t buy is real material that isn’t being manufactured, transported, and installed,” Timmons says.