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The Case for a Shipping Container Server Room

3 minute read
Oct 23, 2019
The Case for a Shipping Container Server Room

In today’s digital world, many businesses house their computing equipment in dedicated spaces such as data centers or server rooms. Server rooms, in particular, are smaller versions of data centers that store computing equipment, often within a larger facility or as their own separate enclosed space. These spaces are needed by businesses across many industries - each requiring specific customizations to create their ideal server room. But what many may not know is that server rooms can easily be created using repurposed shipping containers.

Not only is modifying a shipping container the eco-friendly choice – by repurposing an object that would otherwise pile up at ports – it is also realistic, practical, and has been a proven solution for many companies. Here are six reasons why a repurposed shipping container makes a good server room.

1. They’re built off-site

As modular building elements, modified shipping container server rooms are built off-site. Most often, the manufacturing that takes place off-site tends to be in a controlled setting, with a consistent crew, in a well-maintained facility. Under these ideal conditions, off-site construction helps streamline the production process and promotes consistent quality. Because the bulk of the project is removed from the destination site, the off-site construction and the on-site preparation can happen simultaneously, cutting the total construction schedule in half.

2. They’re portable

Once the container arrives at the desired site, it can be permanently or temporarily placed on a pre-poured foundation or it can be placed directly on flat, solid ground. Companies that expect to transport their server room in the future can easily pick up the container with a forklift or crane and load it on to a truck to send it to its new location. Because shipping containers are portable elements, they can easily be placed within a larger facility, building, or warehouse. Alternatively, they can be dropped into remote locations for unique operations such as on a rocket test and launch site. One of the key values of shipping container portability is the fact that server equipment can be installed in the container at the equipment manufacturer site. From there, the entire server room can be transported to its destination ready to go.

Shipping Container as a Server Room

3. They’re customizable

Shipping containers are available in a variety of sizes - most commonly 10-foot, 20-foot, and 40-foot lengths. And, because they are easily stackable and modifiable, the container can be built to custom specifications. Some companies combine multiple containers to create a larger structure, many of which can remain portable if needed. On the other hand, if a company is looking for a 14-foot container, a 20-foot container can be cut down to the desired size to create the perfect size server room.

In addition to size modifications, shipping containers can also be finished out as desired. Options include cutting into the walls of a container to add frames for A/C units and utility ports – which are used for data and electrical cables – or container walls can be reinforced to hold the weight of wall-mounted server racks.

4. They’re economical

Financing for on-site servers is already daunting due to the cost of the servers themselves, so it’s important to cut costs where quality won’t be jeopardized. Luckily, modified shipping container server rooms costs thousands of dollars less than server rooms or data centers built by traditional methods.  

5. They’re green

Shipping containers are an eco-friendly alternative to other building methods but going green is particularly important when creating server rooms and data centers. The demand for green data centers and server rooms is growing due to the likelihood that higher amounts of energy will be needed to power more servers in the future. While this normally means that companies opt for renewable energy sources or smarter use of power, turning to repurposed shipping containers as the frame of the server room helps play an important, and often overlooked, role in going green. Implementing eco-friendly measures for server rooms shouldn’t stop with the energy alone, it should instead influence every element of a server room, especially the enclosure in which the equipment lives.

6. They create extra space

For businesses looking to add to their computing capacity, it can be challenging to find available space within an existing facility. In the same vein, it can be just as challenging to add the proper cooling system, with the insulation and air conditioning that server rooms require, in limited space. Many landlords are also unlikely to alter the physical space to help make accommodations. Fortunately, shipping containers are a scalable way to address the challenges of physical limitations. As computing needs continue to increase, additional square footage is just another shipping container away.

As the world walks further into the digital future, many more server rooms and data centers will be built. More companies will be able to create the specific server rooms they desire once they understand that repurposed shipping containers are a reliable option.

Are you interested in learning about design considerations for a shipping container server room? Check back next week for part two of this blog or subscribe to our Think Inside The Box® blog below to get an email notification.

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