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"Where will customers be in two years?" he said. "It's all about flexibility. Data centers are very cumbersome to build, get permits for, and operate. For us, once we're approved for one container, we're approved for them all."
Brian Canney, global business executive at IBM responsible for the vendor's Portable Modular Data Center, or PMDC, said the total cost of ownership message related to containerized data center modules is huge.
Using an IBM PMDC or similar module can result in a 50 percent cut in capital costs and up to a 70 percent cut in operational costs, Canney said.
"No one knows how much capacity they will need in the future," he said. "The PMDC allows customers to adjust accordingly. They don't need to build now for future capacity needs. They also save on the time needed to build a new data center. For a new data center, in most cases customers need 18 to 24 months to build it. But in the meantime, they need to move more equipment into a collocation facility or some unconditioned space."
With IBM's PMDC, however, a new module with all the required servers and storage can be delivered within 12 to 14 weeks, Canney said. Most of that time is spent on sourcing the needed components, including the chiller unit and generators.
In Pelio's case, however, the time to delivery is even faster, Canney said. "Pelio has its own mechanical (air conditioning) and electrical plant, so we just deliver the IT containers," he said. "So the lead time is about eight weeks, including the racks and internal power and cooling, fire detection and suppression, and remote monitoring and security."
Pelio, which built its first data center about 10 years ago after seeing a tenant in one of its buildings bringing huge amounts of power for its own data center, has done well in the data center business because of its close relationship with Silicon Valley Power, the local public utility for Santa Clara.
"Silicon Valley Power provides the cheapest and most reliable power in California," Pelio said.
The company builds all its data centers next to power substations because of the huge expense required to run new power lines, Pelio said.
"Being next to connectivity and power is the building block to a successful data center," he said. "We won't build outside our area. We're in a pretty golden spot with Silicon Valley Power."