Modular data center installed base forecast to grow at 30 percent annually

Feb. 2, 2015
IHS analysis says the ‘measly’ 1-percent penetration rate for modular facilities still will equal $750M in 2015.

The new report “Containerized and Modular Data Centers – 2015” available from IHS estimates that nearly 200 Megawatts (MW) of IT load capacity is currently housed in containerized or modular data centers around the world. “With growth of new shipments estimated at roughly 20 percent for 2015, the installed base figure will grow to between 250 and 300 MW by the end of the year,” IHS said, “making containerized and modular data centers account for 1 percent of the total data center IT load estimated.”

Report author Liz Cruz commented, “While 1 percent may seem like a small number to some, it should be remembered that containerized data centers have only been commercially offered for a few years, and we’re looking at penetration of all data center IT load globally, which IHS currently estimates to be nearing 30,000 MW. So a measly 1 percent ends up being an annual market worth almost three-quarters of a billion dollars.”

The installed base of containerized and modular data centers—as measured in IT load capacity—is projected to grow at a nearly 30-percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years, according to IHS. “A wider swath of customers has become aware of the benefits of containerized and modular data centers,” the research firm said, “leading to increased adoption in recent years. The appeal of these units includes speed of deployment, outsourced data center design, mobility, offsite manufacturing, a single point of control for all systems, and potential tax and real estate cost reductions. In addition to the hyperscale customers who helped to popularize the idea of putting thousands of servers in one mobile enclosure, the market now includes an increasing number of innovative and niche uses for these products. One recent examples of a project by a Phoenix-area public utility which plans to deploy a containerized data center near one of its generation plants in order to provide power directly from a bulk transmission line, thereby negating the need for a backup generator.”

Cruz provided some perspective on the entire data center landscape, and modular data centers’ place in that landscape, with the observation: “It will likely be 2025 or later before containerized data centers will account for as much as 5 percent of the total IT load capacity, and it is not expected that penetration will ever move much beyond that mark. So while containerized data centers are currently growing at a much faster rate than traditional ones, they will always remain a comparatively small portion of the market. But a niche in a very large market can be significant all on its own and worth billions of dollars to data center infrastructure suppliers.”

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