HP Cuts Costs With Data Center Assembly Line

Tuesday Jul 27th 2010 by Kevin Komiega
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HP has taken a page from Henry Ford’s book by applying an assembly line approach towards manufacturing and selling data centers.

HP has taken a page from Henry Ford’s book by applying an assembly line approach towards manufacturing and selling data centers.

HP (NYSE: HPQ) today introduced HP FlexDC, a modular approach to building prefabricated data centers that the company claims cuts costs by as much as 50 percent, saves power and reduces the time it takes to get a new data center up and running.

Offered through HP’s Critical Facilities Services, FlexDC is essentially an a la carte menu for designing greenfield data centers. FlexDC is based on a “butterfly” design consisting of four prefabricated data center quadrants that center on an administrative section. Each quadrant measures roughly 6,000 square feet and additional sections can be added as power and space requirements grow.

Peter Gross, vice president and general manager, HP Critical Facilities Services, said FlexDC can cut the overall cost of constructing a data center in half.

“We construct these modules at the factory and ship them to the site for assembly. Much like Lego blocks, these components are pre-packaged and each quadrant is designed to support about 3.2 megawatts (MW) of critical power,” said Gross.

The main components of a FlexDC data center include a pre-fabricated metal building, a power module and a cooling module.

Customers select the type of cooling, electrical distribution and levels of redundancy and can populate the physical space with IT systems from any vendor, although HP wouldn’t mind selling you their own.

“Someone who wants to build a new data center will have the option to use storage [or other infrastructure components] from whichever vendor they choose, whether it’s HP storage or EMC storage, it doesn’t matter,” said Gross. “We will offer similar modular components on the technology side – cabinets, racks and IT systems – as we do on the data center side.”

Gross said HP can build data centers in months rather than years. “Today’s data centers are being built the same way they were 30 years ago. They are very customized and it is difficult to control costs and the overall process.”

Pricing for a FlexDC data center varies widely, but according to Gross, an average 3 MW data center – a median number for an enterprise data center – will cost approximately $21 million. Compare that to the average cost of about $51 million for a traditional data center and HP is betting the FlexDC prefab approach will resonate with customers.

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