July 24, 2013
The Flamingo Trailer Park was located a few miles away from where I went to college. Truly a monument to kitsch, the “Flamingo” was a trailer park (now referred to by the less pejorative term “manufactured housing”) adorned with the most beloved of all yard ornaments—the plastic pink flamingo. They were everywhere. To enter the park you drove through an archway composed of two massive representations of Phoenicopterus with interlocking beaks. Each trailer featured a flamingo emblazoned with its street address. Only in the infield at Hialeah could you see more of these bandy legged scourges of brine shrimp, albeit the non-ersatz version. My memories of the Flamingo were spurred by an article I read proclaiming the top 5 reasons you would want a pre-fabricated modular data center.
As I perused the article, I could not help but be impressed by the fact that each of the assertions expressed seemed to parallel the principles of the domiciles that predominated within the park’s flamingo fenced confines. A better understanding of the parallels of manufactured housing and pre-fabricated data centers can be gathered when we examine each of the article’s individual assertions:
1) Pre-Fabricated Modular Data Centers are Purpose Built—This is true. As the article maintains, no one builds data centers in ISO shipping containers anymore, just as nobody wants to live in a metal box that still says “Waste Management” on the side. I think we can all agree that pre-fabricated data centers and the pre-built two-bedroom, one bath homestead have both evolved.
2) Pre-Fabricated Modular Data Centers are Integrated— The article said an integrated pre-fabricated modular facility houses its mechanical equipment below the floor. This does not strike me as a terribly maintenance friendly design. My friend Schmitty used to live in a trailer and most of its infrastructure was underneath the floor too. Unfortunately, so was a family of raccoons, so I’m not sure we can chalk this one up in the win column for our pre-fab friends.
3) Pre-Fabricated Modular Data Centers Have Full Hot and Cold Aisles: In this section the author expounded on the fact that a pre-fab modular facility has a four foot hot aisle and a four foot cold aisle. Although impressive, the average Flamingo resident was able to get a wall unit, sofa, chair and a cocktail table into their living room. I think we’d have to call this one a draw.
4) Pre-Fabricated Modular Data Centers are Software Managed and Enabled: Although some pre-fabricated data centers do come with their own operating systems they also tend to be proprietary, meaning they work only as long as you use that provider’s pre-fab units. Isn’t that kind of like having only hotel TV? Hang a dish off any facility within the Flamingo’s confines, and you had over 100 stations and that didn’t even include Pay per View. Open standards are clearly the only way to go here.
5) Pre-Fabricated Modular Data Centers are Highly Secure: This feature was apparently very important to the author as he pointed out that pre-fab units feature physical access controls, electronic door security, 360 degree digital cameras, galvanized steel shells, rhino-skin hardened tops, and hardened controller infrastructure. I must admit that this is very impressive. Schmitty’s security system was an old Doberman named Fang. However, since neither pre-fabricated units nor the Flamingo’s trailers also include a hardened building to put them in, they both are highly vulnerable to the elements. When a tornado hit the Flamingo, Schmitty bought a new dog. I dare say replacing a pre-fabricated data center costs just a bit more.
Obviously, the residences found in the Flamingo trailer park and pre-fabricated modular data centers serve different purposes despite their similarities in exterior design. Although, as pointed out, they both have their pros and cons, and they both provide a solution for a specific niche within a larger industry. As for the differences in their location and exterior adornment, I think we can all agree that this is a question of personal style that is best left up to the individual resident or customer as the case may be.