A modular data center is a portable collection of all the components needed to supply data center capacity, such as servers, storage, and networking equipment. The most common type is also known as a containerized data center or portable modular data center, because it fits all the equipment into a standard shipping container that can be transported to a desired location. These 20- to 40-foot shipping containers can be shipped and used anywhere in the world that has reliable supplies of water and power, an internet connection, and some kind of chiller that can remove the heat that is generated by servers operating in close proximity.
An alternative to fitting it all into a shipping container is to fit it into a facility built of pre-fabricated pieces that can be built quickly on a site and expanded as necessary. For example, HP’s version is made of sheet metal components that are used to construct four halls that are linked by a central operating building.
Modular data centers are useful for datacenter owners whose current facilities are overcrowded. They are also used by organizations who need to be able to quickly move computing power where they need it on a large scale. Disaster recovery providers, emergency relief organizations, military units, financial institutions, and government entities take advantage of them. Modular data centers are available from several vendors, including HP Performance Optimized Datacenter, Google Modular Data Center, IBM Portable Modular Data Center, and Sun Modular Data Center.