Put the Brakes on Water-guzzling Data Centers with Aligned

Learn to Save Water or Your Data Center May Tank

757 million liters. That’s about 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools–all full of crystal-clear, cool water. That’s how much freshwater a typical large, cloud data center complex with cooling towers used on average in 2017, even though fresh water is a dwindling and limited resource worldwide, especially in hot, dry areas of the globe. Clearly, data centers have a conservation challenge ahead of them.

Now, I’m sure you have heard the adage ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. So, it should come as no surprise that the industry has attempted to tackle this issue in a variety of waysbut unfortunately without much success – yet. Many of the solutions in recent years have certainly improved energy efficiency, but water usage remains high. Open cell towers are still way too commonplace for an industry that knows it has a water problem.

 And because Data Centers have this drinking problem, it is imperative the industry finds the most efficient and cost-effective solution regarding water usage – without sacrificing reliability. In short, low-water to no-water data centers are becoming a necessity for the market.  

Data Centers Wow Clients with Low WUEs

 First, what’s a WUE and why should you care? WUE stands for Water Usage Efficiency and it is just as important as the better known PUE (Power Efficiency Usage). The Green Grid Data Center Maturity Model (DCMM) sets standards for sustainability in several key areas including power, computing, storage, network, and yes water. They rate efficiency maturity levels on a scale from 1-5. If you are a 5, you can stop reading now…you have reached maximum efficiency. All others, keep reading.

Efficiency recommendations could include hot-aisle or cold-aisle containment to improve airflow management and reduce cooling loads, increasing the cold-aisle temperature set points, installing some form of economization to the cooling system, implementing data-center-wide monitoring and controls, conducting an energy efficiency audit, identifying and removing comatose/orphan/unused servers, and upgrading to higher-efficiency servers.

 All of these strategies translate into utility bill and operational savings that also conserve overall natural resources, such as the water used onsite for cooling, or the water used to generate the electricity which runs the data centers. 

The Aligned Solution: “Free Cooling”

Aligned’s cooling system offers a unique take on the chiller/forced-air approach to data center cooling that results in an all-around more efficient and sustainable solution. 

Using a patented heat sink design that is closely coupled to the server racks, Aligned has been able to not only capture the heat generated by the servers more efficiently, but transport and reject it to the atmosphere using dramatically less energy and resources than the traditional CRAH systems.

The specially designed heat sinks, coupled with the use of hot aisle containment and an advanced volumetric air flow control strategy, enable Aligned to capture the heat at the source in a highly efficient manner. This solution trifecta results in a considerably lower airside static pressure drop, while minimizing bypass and maximizing the Delta T across the heat sink, which allows for dramatically less fan power and significantly higher return water temperatures.

Having higher return water temperatures is, of course, a great benefit where economization is concerned. An economizer system works the cooler outside ambient air against the warmer water to reject as much of the heat without using refrigeration.

This is where Aligned’s system sets itself apart. Their CACTUS cooler combines the best of wet and dry waterside economization, with industry leading maglev trim refrigeration. Through the use of their specially designed economizer coil and evaporative assist, the cooler is able to reject the heat very efficiently using only a modicum of fan power. Because of the close approach between the entering scavenger air and leaving water, the cooler essentially wrings out as much benefit from the ambient air as possible. And since water is used very sparingly by the evaporative media, this precious resource is conserved.

When the ambient air is no longer able to provide all the cooling needs, Aligned turns to centrifugal compressors for trim cooling. The system has the ability to start at very low power and can vary its output in a very granular way. One other benefit to the system is that the condensing section sits in the evaporatively cooled air stream, so when the system is running evaporative assist, it benefits from lower condensing temperatures and an improved coefficient of performance.

In addition to industry leading efficiency and sustainability, the Aligned Data Center Cooling System can be setup and installed to run dry. This solution benefits customers looking to operate without the use of water, while still maintaining lower connected power and lower PUE’s.

 Want to learn more about how Aligned conserves water and power resources? Get in touch with us!

Aligned Announces New Strategic Investment by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners

Aligned (the “Company”), a leading data center provider, today announced it has received a strategic investment from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners (“MIP”), which will support the Company’s growth with significant additional capital. Aligned will be jointly controlled by existing owners BlueMountain Capital Management (“BlueMountain”) funds and MIP following the transaction. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We are delighted to welcome MIP as an investor. The investment provides Aligned with enhanced financial resources to meet substantial levels of current market demand,” said Aligned CEO Andrew Schaap. “The investment comes on the back of our recently announced 50 MW facility to be commissioned in Salt Lake City, as well as significant client activity in Phoenix, where we recently commenced construction of Phase II of our facility there. With MIP’s support we are well positioned to meaningfully expand in our existing markets and are also evaluating entry into new markets. Aligned’s value proposition uniquely positions us to benefit from the massive growth we will continue to see in this industry, driven by cloud, the Internet of Things and Big Data. The Aligned team has operated over 750 MW and developed over $3.5 billion of data centers around the globe for some of the most discerning clients. With this team of seasoned professionals, we are excited about our future partnership with MIP.”

Aligned is an infrastructure technology company that offers colocation and build-to-scale solutions to cloud, enterprise, and managed service providers. The Company has operational facilities in Dallas and Phoenix, with a third facility in Salt Lake City to be commissioned in Q3 2018. The Company’s facilities can deliver up to 230 MW of critical capacity.

Macquarie Infrastructure Partners CEO Karl Kuchel said: “As an experienced investor in communications infrastructure, we are excited to invest in Aligned to help the company substantially accelerate its growth plans. The Aligned management team has extensive experience developing and operating data centers and has built two high-quality data centers that have strong leasing momentum with flagship customers. We look forward to the partnership with the Company and BlueMountain, and to continuing the growth and development of the platform in existing and new markets.”

Jim Pieri, Portfolio Manager at BlueMountain, said: “MIP’s investment further validates the differentiated capabilities and the customer value proposition of the Aligned platform. We are excited to join forces with a like-minded partner to further accelerate Aligned’s next phase of growth.”

Citigroup Global Markets, Inc served as exclusive financial advisor to Aligned on the transaction, with legal advice provided by Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LLP. Guggenheim Securities served as exclusive financial advisor to MIP and White & Case LLP provided legal advice.

About Aligned

Aligned is an infrastructure technology company that offers colocation and build-to-scale solutions to cloud, enterprise, and managed service providers. Our intelligent infrastructure allows us to deliver data centers like a utility—accessible and consumable as needed. By reducing the energy, water and space needed to operate, our data center solutions combined with our patented cooling technology offer businesses a competitive advantage by improving reliability and their bottom-line.

About Macquarie Infrastructure Partners

MIP is an investment fund managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA).

As of its most recent reporting date (September 30, 2017), MIRA had assets under management of $US111 billion invested in 137 portfolio businesses, ~300 properties and ~4.5 million hectares of farmland. MIRA is a division of Macquarie Asset Management, the asset management arm of Macquarie Group, a diversified financial group providing clients with asset management, banking, advisory and risk and capital solutions across debt, equity and commodities.

About BlueMountain

BlueMountain Capital Management, LLC is a diversified alternative asset manager managing more than $21 billion of assets. BlueMountain was founded in 2003 and today operates a collaborative, multi-disciplinary platform, investing in strategies across major asset classes. The firm has a global presence and serves sophisticated investors via commingled hedge funds, longer-dated private capital funds, and customized single-investor fund solutions. BlueMountain’s diverse team of professionals in New York and London is supported by the firm’s institutionalized and proprietary infrastructure, including specialized operations and risk management technology.

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How Technology Trends Will Impact the Data Center in 2018

In this blog post we’ll look at the top technology trends for 2018 – including IoT, machine learning/AI and AR/VR. And we’ll look at how those technology trends impact the data center, because, as Andrew Schaap put it, “The burden of such rapid technological advancement falls on the physical infrastructure – the data centers that make up the factory of the digital age.”

For example:

  • IoT, AI, and AR/VR are driving incredible increases in demand for compute, storage and network capacity. Industry veteran Mark Thiele has famously predicted: “If the numbers follow a historical precedent at all we will need roughly 400 million servers to support our 2020 IoT and technology demands. To have enough data centers for 400 million servers, we would need to add another 4,000 massive data centers measuring roughly 400,000 sq. ft. with approximately 50 megawatts of power each.”
  • IoT and AI are pushing data to the edge. As we wrote in Solving the Capacity Challenge, “By 2019, nearly half of IoT data will be processed at the edge of the cloud, according to IDC. Edge processing is also likely to rise as tech giants explore more efficient, and more private, ways to run AI algorithms. Revolutions in machine learning have already significantly increased capacity demands in the cloud, and now tech giants are developing edge-based processing for those AI algorithms.”
  • Capacity planning will only get more difficult – making a future-proof data center even more essential. As Andrew Schaap explained, “Very rapid technological change means that future demand for data center capacity is anybody’s guess. And that makes life challenging for even the most sophisticated capacity planners… Having a data center partner that can deliver capacity fast, scale up, and scale out takes the stress out of data center capacity planning. When data center infrastructure is designed to scale up and out, then future-proofing doesn’t require over-provisioning capacity to mitigate risk.”
  • Modern IT server architectures are pushing compute densities upward – and also creating mixed density environments. Architectures such as .5U, hyper-converged infrastructure, rack-scale designs and multiple other forms of high-performance computing are rapidly becoming mainstream, increasing the density demands on the data center. As we wrote in High, Mixed, & Variable Density Needs an Adaptive Data Center, “Supporting higher densities and increasingly dynamic compute loads without stranding capacity, scalability without over-provisioning, and reliability even in an age of dramatically fluctuating data center power draws requires the data center to be for IT exactly what IT has had to become for the business: adaptive.”