Reinventing the Data Centre to Ensure Sustainability in a New Era
Jakob Carnemark, Founder and CEO, Aligned Energy
We are in a new era. The Digital Age, characterized by the digital interconnection of people, institutions, and even things. This new era will be as transformative for the world as the Industrial Age was, and we have a unique opportunity, now, to ensure that transformation is wholly positive.
From connected homes, to precision oil and gas exploration, to integrated healthcare, to smart farming, and so much more, enterprises and governments are stretching their boundaries in search of new opportunity. Individuals and institutions are fundamentally rewiring their relationships with each other. Individuals are increasingly empowered and expect all digital organizations to perform as well as the best digital organizations. Institutions are unleashing technology’s power to create not only new platforms and services, but also to develop the new business models and strategies required to scale and sustain them.
“So just as railroads supported industrialization and seaways supported globalization, the data centre supports digitization – a trend no less globally impactful”
One of the key characteristics of the Digital Age is data – massive amounts of it. 90 per cent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. That data can be used to solve difficult social, economic, and environmental problems. It could also make all of our problems worse, if we do not build in sustainability at the foundation of the Digital Age – in the data centre.
The foundation of the Digital Age
The vast majority of data flows through and is processed and stored in data centres – think of massive warehouse-style buildings with hundreds of rows of computer servers humming quietly, drowned out by the noise of huge air conditioners blowing frigid air into the cavernous space. Even when networking, compute, and storage are done ‘in the cloud’ they are done in a data centre.
So just as railroads supported industrialization and seaways supported globalization, the data centre supports digitization – a trend no less globally impactful.
The data explosion has dramatically increased demand on data centres. And that has increased concerns about data centres’ impact on the environment. Data centres are one of the fastest-growing users of energy and water. The kind of growth projected for the digital economy is simply unsustainable without dramatic improvements in data centre efficiency (see Figure 1).
As much as technology has changed, the data centre has not changed much at all. In an economy that favours experimentation over-elaborate planning, data over intuition, and iteration over upfront design, the data centre has to be agile, responsive, and scalable. Data centres as they are traditionally built and run are not.
Reinventing the data centre
Seeing the disconnect between the Digital Age and the traditional data centre firsthand, my co-founders and I knew the data center had to be reinvented. So we founded Aligned Energy, an infrastructure technology company with a mission to make critical infrastructure smart enough to continuously improve its economic performance and environmental impact, delivering a tremendous business advantage while helping secure the health of the planet.
From the ground up, we designed an adaptive data centre that reduces energy and water consumption, saves money, and enables organizations to be agile, responsive, and scalable – to move as fast as they need to grab hold of the opportunities the Digital Age presents. The following are just a few examples of Aligned Energy’s data centre innovation:
- – Our infrastructure optimization software gathers millions of data points in real time and turns that data into actionable insights, allowing operators to optimize the performance (including efficiency) of data center infrastructure.
- – Our award-winning cooling system actually removes heat at its source, which allows us to support servers running much higher densities (i.e. generating more heat) and just as efficiently support servers running at very low densities – giving customers more flexibility.
- – Our vertically integrated supply chain allows us and our customers to deploy just the infrastructure we need, when we need it, instead of having to build it out years ahead of demand – saving money.
- – Together, intelligent infrastructure (combination of hardware and software) and a vertically integrated supply chain allows us and our customers to increase utilization – make fuller use of existing data center space and power – which is a huge driver of cost savings.
- -Unlike traditional cooling systems, ours ramps up and down based on the amount of heat generated by the servers, which means we can support dynamic IT loads – one of the defining features of traffic in the Digital Age.
- – The design of our patented cooling system also allows us to leverage free cooling at any load in any climate – something most data centres cannot do – which helps reduce our energy consumption by up to 80 per cent and our water consumption by up to 85 per cent.
As the foundation of the Digital Age, data centre innovations like these will be essential to ensuring that the Digital Age really does make life better for all the world’s people – and does it sustainably.
About the Author
With over 25 years of experience building and operating data centres, Jakob Carnemark’s vision for solving the mission critical industry’s biggest issues is being carried out as Founder and CEO of Aligned Energy. By reducing the energy, water, and space needed to operate, Aligned Energy’s technology innovations offer organizations a competitive advantage by improving reliability and their bottom line, while helping secure the health of the planet. Learn more and get in touch via alignedenergy.com