Mobile devices are changing many facets of data center management, especially when it comes to jobs that require a lot of time on the data center floor, working inside the hardware cages. Datapod, an Australian-based data center provider that’s represented in the United States by their partner, Universal Networking Services, is taking data center design to the tablet space through its recently released Datapod for iPad application.

Datapod designed the app for its customers, based on a modular data center design concept, but it could speak to the future of the iPad as a data center design tool for mobile sales teams, CIOs, and data center managers that want to streamline their data center design process.

Design a data center with Datapod

Designing a data center typically involves a whole lot of Visio diagrams, architectural drawings, and related documentation. Sometimes, the traditional data center design process isn’t conducive to rapidly conceptualizing new design ideas. This is especially true in a fast-paced sales or proposal development environment. However, the Datapod iPad app is user-friendly and made for rapidly conceptualizing new data center designs (albeit designs based on Datapod’s modular approach to data center design). Figure A shows the Datapod app open to a blank screen.
Figure A

Datapod app open and ready to go.

With just a few taps, you can add the following data center modular components to your data center design:

  • 0-30 racks that also determine how many expandable modules your design requires
  • Rack density specifications, including 3.7KW, 7.4KW, 15KW, and 30KW
  • Cooling specification in the form of chilled water or DX condenser
  • Hot aisle access from both ends or just one end
  • Optional entry pod (a clean room) with secure access control, either single or double
  • Utilitypod generator with chillers and other infrastructure (options include generator only or full utilitypod)

Figure B shows a complete data center design ready to be turned into a proposal.
Figure B

Data center design by the Datapod app.

This might be old hat to the data center geeks out there, but Datapod customers have the benefit of additional productivity and improved communications while designing their modular data center by just using this iPad app.

Generate a proposal

Once you plug your design parameters into the app, Datapod generates a proposal PDF. The proposal output still requires engineering validation, but it looks very professional. Figure C shows a page from the proposal that the app generated for the data center I designed earlier in this post.
Figure C

A page from a Datapod app generated proposal.

Once you generate the proposal, you can then tap the Action button to either email or open it in another app on your iPad that supports PDF. In a future release, it would be nice if the Datapod app would support Microsoft Word (*.docx) format. This would save an extra step of having to convert a Datapod proposal PDF back to Word if there was a requirement to use the content as source material in another business document or presentation.

The iPad as the future of data center design

I’m sure that some data center architects out there might dispute the role of the iPad and apps like Datapod in data center design. However, I see a future for the iPad in data center design for the following reasons:

  • The iPad can be a useful communications and collaboration tool for a cross-functional team
  • Team members could use an iPad app to conceptualize designs for later vetting by data center architects and engineers, which could help in-demand technical staff focus on the core business and higher level technical work
  • Mobile sales team in the data center market could have the tools to rapidly conceptualize customer design requirements while sitting around a conference table

My vision of a mass-market data center design app for the iPad takes the best elements of the Datapod app and OmniGraffle for iPad. Such a tool could then also find a home in other parts of the data center business, especially for aiding in the development of architecture and operations documentation.

Final thoughts

While the Datapod app is built strictly for one data center provider’s use cases, it helps demonstrate how an iPad could play a new role in data center design, whether it’s as part of the sales cycle or even ongoing data center operations. Would you consider the Datapod app for your data center design? Explain why or why not in the discussion thread below.