With the need for edge computing growing exponentially, more and more edge applications popping up all the time, and businesses of all types needing to run applications locally to reduce latency and support instantaneous computing, the micro data center concept provides an affordable, reliable, space-saving IT solution that is ideal for anywhere critical, small-footprint compute resources are needed.
What are the components of a micro data center?
Micro data centers are solutions that incorporate all of the essential components you find in a typical data center, but in a scaled down deployment. All components are enclosed within one standard IT rack with plenty of room to house your sensitive IT equipment, servers, and the rack accessories of your choice. Typically, micro data centers support critical loads of no more than 100-150 kilowatts (kW). Components within the rack usually include:
- Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)
- Rack power distribution unit (rPDU)
- Rack cooling unit and climatic controls with integrated heat rejection
- Remote monitoring sensors and software
Some micro data centers also include backup fan systems, physical security, fire suppression systems, shock absorption, and power conditioning. Optional accessories can often be added to tailor the solution to your unique needs. For example, you may be able to include cable management tools, blanking panels, or airflow management solutions.
All of the equipment is pre-integrated in the factory and tested to seamlessly work together to meet your requirements, offering the convenience of a plug and play solution that can be rapidly deployed on site, sometimes in a matter of hours and often without outside contractor support.
How are micro data centers different from other types of prefabricated and modular data center systems available today?
The micro data center is one category within the larger family of pre-built data center systems. These systems are becoming increasingly popular as IT managers need ways to deploy additional capacity quickly and closer to end users. Some other popular types of prefabricated data centers include:
- Mini data center. Like micro data centers, mini data centers are scaled-down, miniaturized versions of their much larger data center counterparts. Mini data centers are prefabricated and purpose-built for edge computing. While the terms micro data center and mini data center are sometimes used interchangeably, a micro data center offers just one rack of equipment and mini data centers typically host five to 20 racks of IT gear compared to the thousands that may be found in their full-scale data center cousins.
- Micro-modular data center: Micro-modular data centers are also very similar to micro data centers, offering self-contained, stand-alone infrastructure. IT cabinets are tightly encapsulated or packed in their own technical space. These systems often include multiple units that are deployed and integrated together in a modular fashion.
- Prefabricated modular data centers: Prefabricated modular data centers are typically larger, stand-alone installations deployed outside of main buildings or in remote locations. Units of capacity can be added in building blocks to meet demand.
What are the main advantages of a micro data center?
There are many reasons that prefabricated micro data centers are rapidly gaining popularity among busy data center managers, including:
- Speed and convenience. Micro data centers eliminate the complicated legwork involved in specifying the various components of an IT solution that can support smaller critical loads locally or at the edge. That specification is already done for you. The pre-built solution enables fast deployment, usually in a matter of days.
- Seamless integration. Micro data centers are pre-integrated in the factory and tested to ensure all components work together for a comprehensive, highly reliable and highly efficient solution. In many cases, micro data centers offer a true plug-and-play system that dramatically simplifies installation and immediately begins working to satisfy your IT requirements.
- Built-in monitoring. Many micro data centers come with pre-integrated sensors and included software that supports centralized monitoring and control. You gain visibility into the individual rack environment and can monitor at the outlet level. And you can remotely control all system components from a single IP address, making micro data centers especially valuable in remote sites where IT staff is limited.
- Customization options. While the beauty of a micro data center lies in the fact that the components are already pieced together for you, you usually do have some options, allowing you to customize a solution. For example, you can often choose between several standard sizes and voltage options. You can also add accessories to further tailor the solution to meet your needs.
- Standardization. Micro data centers support standardization across multiple deployments where you have smaller critical loads to support. Standardizing on a single style of rack simplifies the workload for your IT team and makes maintaining your distributed IT infrastructure much more efficient.
- Peace of mind. Often, micro data centers come with comprehensive warranties that cover the entire system. If something goes wrong with any single component, the warranty covers replacement, repair, and reintegration of the component so that the system is fully restored.
Where are micro data centers best deployed?
Micro data centers are ideal for edge applications, especially in distributed, remote, or unconditioned locations. Because the entire system is enclosed into the size of one standard IT rack, micro data centers can be used in existing network closets or small server rooms, as well as in open office spaces, retail stores, and clinics. The sealed and protected system is especially beneficial in light industrial applications where sensitive IT equipment can be harmed by the dust and other particulates that are common in these locations. Through the convenience of a micro data center system, industries including healthcare, retail, transportation, manufacturing, logistics and distribution, telecommunications, media, and financial services can easily put computing power and additional IT capacity closer to their customers, associates and devices.
Learn more about the edge of network revolution and how micro data centers will be the
key to finding your edge as organizations move toward more distributed networks.
Micro data center systems available from Vertiv
The Vertiv™ VRC-S is an edge-ready micro data center system offering a self-contained rack solution with integrated rPDU, self-contained rack cooling unit with up to 3.5 kW of cooling capacity, and monitoring software. The Vertiv™ VRC-S comes in eight pre-built standard sizes with two voltage options and can accommodate the UPS of your choice. Visit vertiv.com to learn more.