What is a Prefabricated Modular Data Center?

Over the last decade or so, there has been a change in data center builds from conventional “brick and mortar” builds where data center operators select and size system components and engineer them to work together, then construct the building, and, when data center building is completed, install and commission the equipment. Today, modular data centers are designed, manufactured, and tested off-site while the preparation of the site takes place in parallel, leading to 40% or more time savings versus a traditional new-build data center. Prefabricated modules are meant to be as plug-and-play as possible, reducing onsite labor requirements and onsite process logistics complexity.

The advantages of this are rapid, efficient design, lower risk, and cost certainty due to factory integration. Modular data centers are scalable for future extensions, have repeatable designs, and are high quality due to the control possible through factory integration. The simplistic assembly allows modules to be shipped quickly by road, rail, or sea.

Who is Adopting Prefabricated Modular Solutions in Data Centers?

Research done by Vertiv and Omdia in 2022 revealed that of 228 companies surveyed from diverse industries across the globe who operate their own data center, more than half have already deployed prefabricated modular data center solutions.

99% of participants say that prefabricated components and modular data center deployment is part of their future strategy.

93% said that prefabricated modular solutions would be their default construction strategy for their data centers in the future.


The #1 reason given was modularity. The fact that modular data centers can be scaled in the future.

The #2 reason was standardization which drives maintenance costs down and ensures easier operation.

The #3 reason given was sustainability. The main component of modular data center systems is steel, which is recyclable, unlike concrete. Steel also has a lower carbon footprint than concrete in production. When things are assembled in one location, such as factory-integrated prefabricated modules, the inbound and outbound shipments to the site are reduced, lowering the installation’s carbon footprint.

Vertiv Integrated Modular Solutions for Global Rapid Deployment

Vertiv has shipped over 1500 modular data centers worldwide to over 800 sites around the globe. We have developed over 250MW of IT load and over 23,000 square meters of space with over 5000 racks. Many of our sites have Tier 3 certification. These are traditional data center installations as well as telecom and industrial sites. Vertiv’s depth and breadth of experience and extensive product line have allowed us to develop a significant global footprint of prefabricated modular data center installations.

One-Stop Solution for Additional Data Center Capacity

Vertiv manufactures all elements of the critical data center components and infrastructure and, therefore, controls the supply chain and the quality of all elements of the modular data center. This single solution from one manufacturer is an additional benefit to the customer.

Vertiv offers project services, engineering services, installation and commissioning services, and complete turnkey business solutions provided by Vertiv or through strategic partners.

Once a design is complete, we assemble and install it in our factory, including mechanical commissioning and all documentation accompanying this. We perform the factory acceptance test, the support site acceptance testing, and the level 5 commissioning on-site if a customer requires it. Vertiv Services and our strategic partners provide additional support.

Our project management department oversees and coordinates customer projects from pre-sale to construction, delivery, and throughout warranty to post-warranty.

Vertiv Engineering Services offers customers different packages depending on what product is desired and how much the customer wants to be involved in the design cycle. We try to balance customer involvement and the timeline desired to ensure the customer is comfortable with how much support they get from the Vertiv engineering team.

Vertiv™ Integrated Modular Data Centers Solutions Portfolio

The Vertiv™ modular solutions portfolio consists of pre-integrated, standard solutions, prefabricated modular custom solutions, and a hybrid data center design approach, including our best-selling solution – the Vertiv Power Modules and Skids.

Standardized Designs

Our standard data center designs are our Vertiv™ SmartMod™, Vertiv™ SmartMod™ Max, Vertiv™ SmartMod™ Combo, and Vertiv™ MegaMod™, which have optimum lead times and pricing. These all-in-one data centers feature Vertiv power, thermal, and fully integrated racks.


The SmartMod is a single module with up to 14 racks and up to 100 kW. Nicknamed the “data center in a box,” this product provides enhanced availability, efficiency, and control in a self-contained enclosure that can be deployed securely, virtually anywhere. Leveraging Vertiv’s critical power, thermal management, and monitoring and control technologies, the SmartMod allows for scalable capacity, faster deployment times, flexibility, configurability, and portability (meaning the SmartMod can easily be transported to a new location if needed) that a more traditional data center build does not.

Prefabricated Modular Solutions

Vertiv™ SmartMod™ Max

The SmartMod™ Max features two modules assembled on site to form a single space and offers up to 26 racks and 210kW. The SmartMod Max DX features direct expansion cooling. The SmartMod CW features chilled water cooling.

Prefabricated Modular Solutions

For SmartMod™ and SmartMod™ Max, Vertiv features an online configurator for our sales teams and key partners, allowing the customer to configure their modular data centers in just a few minutes with optional systems like fire detection and suppression, access control, video surveillance, monitoring, etc.

Prefabricated Modular Solutions

Vertiv™ SmartMod™ Combo

The SmartMod™ Combo is a more complex multi-module solution made of two parts: the IT hall, made up of several SmartMod™ Max modules, and a separate Power Module. The SmartMod Combo design incorporates standardized building blocks that make up the full solution. They can be mixed and matched to increase scalability, flexibility, and budget planning. All power modules have 2N configurations (400 and 600kVA) in a single enclosure and a separate A&B room.

Prefabricated Modular Solutions

Vertiv™ MegaMod™

The Vertiv™ MegaMod™ is a pre-engineered product platform with the flexibility to adapt to specific requirements. The MegaMod has a shorter time-to-market than traditional brick-and-mortar builds and custom modular data centers. The MegaMod supports the environmental sustainability goals of most data center owners and features a flexible pay-as-you-grow data center model, unlike traditional stick-built construction. Factory-built, this solution mitigates risk through increased reliability and resiliency. Behind MegaMod stands a team of experts with a wealth of experience covering all areas of designing, planning, and testing.

The Vertiv™ MegaMod™ is our largest standardized modular solution and is a scalable, multi-module data center that can be designed for up to 256 racks in a 1MW IT space. This solution has multiple modules shipped as single units and assembled on-site. The classic MegaMod™ IT hall consists of multiple modules featuring IT racks and cooling equipment. The MegaMod Plus version offers up to 25% more racks and cooling capacity as it features separate IT Hall and Cooling Modules. Both solutions include a service module with space for a fire system, cabling, and bus bars.

Prefabricated Modular Solutions
Prefabricated Modular Solutions

Vertiv™ Custom Modular Data Centers

Our custom prefabricated modular data centers are customized according to each client’s needs and are scalable up to 2MW IT blocks, with 200 to 300 racks. The lead time on these solutions is from 6 to 12 months, depending on deployment schedules and complexity.

The Hybrid Modular Approach

The hybrid modular data center approach incorporates off-site prefabrication of complex building blocks (power modules/skids, cooling and hydro modules/skids, and whitespace superstructure) into or next to traditionally constructed buildings with seamless on-site integration to speed up the fitting out of a traditional build or existing data center. These are scalable, flexible designs up to 50MW IT or more, with 450 to 1500 racks. Deployment time on hybrid modular solutions is usually 9 to 14 months , depending on complexity, with a possibility of inventory stock for rapid rollout of expansion.

Prefabricated Modular Solutions

Vertiv™ Power Modules and Skids

Vertiv Power Modules are prefabricated enclosures that contain all the critical power infrastructure needed for the core data center and hall. Modules normally come in sizes of up to 2500+ kVA and include the ATS panel and main distribution board, a Vertiv™ UPS with Li-ion or VRLA batteries, N/N+1 cooling (DX or CW), a fire detection and suppression system, access control and CCTV surveillance, environmental and equipment monitoring (BMS), the integration of MW and transformer (optional), and is transportable by road or sea to any destination. As 90% of the infrastructure is manufactured by Vertiv, the customer gains the advantage of one single supplier for a complex power infrastructure solution.

A low to medium level of re-assembly is required on-site for our power modules. Their internal systems are fully commissioned for single-module design. The module-mounted condensers allow for easy shipment. The batteries are shipped separately due to security reasons, but this does not diminish the speed of on-site assembly. This scalable Tier III data center architecture is pay-as-you-grow and has seen industry-wide adoption from large colocation providers and hyperscale data center operators. Our designs follow distributed and block redundant logic as Tier III N+1 criteria require.

Modular Data Center Success stories:

Meeza: Featuring an 80-module solution and two independent modular data center buildings, this installation was delivered turnkey within 14 months, and is the largest prefabricated modular data center campus in the MEA region.

T-systems: Built in 2013, this Tier III certified, 1200 square meter, 1.1MW data center featured 38 two-story modules and was delivered six months from the initial order.

Parklands, South Africa: Initially 120 racks, this data center installation was expanded to 286 racks. Lithium-ion batteries were used for reduced operational expense. It was assembled on-site and ready for testing in under 6 weeks.

As you can see, the modular data center industry has come a long way from “containerized data centers” and is becoming the default way to add new data center and capacity.

To review the recent webinar, “The Advantages of IT Modular Solutions”, register here.

Also, sign up for our Engineers Frontier Community on LinkedIn. Review our modular data center offerings on Vertiv.com.

Katja Kufrin Namlic
Katja Kufrin Namlic
Katja is responsible for Vertiv’s Modular Solutions Standard Products covering pre-engineered modular data center solutions for various applications in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

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