Applying Military Precision to the Data Center Supply Chain

Published by: Andrew Schaap – CEO at Aligned Data Centers – March 07, 2019

“Today’s rapidly changing world, marked by increased speed and dense interdependencies, means that organizations everywhere are now facing dizzying challenges, from global terrorism to health epidemics to supply chain disruption to game-changing technologies. These issues can be solved only by creating sustained organizational adaptability through the establishment of a team of teams.”

― General Stanley McChrystal, from his book, “Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World”

In the military, the term Tactical Landing Zone, or TLZ, is used to describe a precise location for the landing of an aircraft, whether a clearing in the jungle or a valley. A TLZ is ideally situated in an area that is safe or easy to defend. However, establishing a defensive perimeter is often necessary as helicopters delivering materiel and troops, who are carefully trained in the insertion process, are supported on the ground by teams of other highly-trained personnel in this mission-critical supply chain operation.

Aligned’s adaptable data center platform and advanced supply chain methodology is not unlike a TLZ whereby highly-trained teams act with great speed and precision. But whereas a TLZ provides the location at which military aircraft can unload troops and supplies, we provide wholesale colocation and build-to-scale data center solutions for the storage, management and movement of organizations’ data.  

In today’s digital economy, capacity demand for hyperscalers, platform and cloud providers, and enterprises dependent on high-density computing can fluctuate quarter-by-quarter, project-to-project or even day-to-day, given the cyclicity of their revenue streams, the launch of new products and services, or the expansion of their businesses into new markets. Although hyperscalers can estimate their annual demand with a reasonable amount of accuracy, quarterly fluctuations can be significant, so demand forecasting and related business planning can prove challenging.

Hyperscalers, cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers are also experiencing an exponential increase in data generation from their clients, which in turn is forcing them to expand their infrastructure at unprecedented rates. According to research by Domo, a publicly-traded computer software company that specializes in business intelligence tools and data visualization, on average, users of the Internet generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.

Moreover, given Gartner’s estimate that more than 20 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be deployed next year, we can be certain that data generation will only continue to accelerate. Factor in the growing use of new and emerging technologies, such as Big Data analytics, consumer and industrial Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) applications, and Augmented Reality (AR), and it’s clear that hyperscalers, cloud and platform providers will have to be able to secure scalable capacity — where and when they need it — which is capable of serving potentially hundreds of millions of users.

Along with increasing pressure to increase scale, hyperscalers are also looking to lower costs even as they take on new workloads. Key considerations for selecting infrastructure providers include data center deployment time, design flexibility, energy efficiency and sustainability. In many cases, Big Tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM have built their data centers in proximity to low cost, renewable energy sources. The distributed nature of hyperscalers also calls for regional solutions, where workloads can be localized to reduce latency and provide an improved user experience.

Providing Intelligent Infrastructure with Speed, Scale and Simplicity

Over the past several years, my colleagues and I at Aligned have recognized that in the face of the relatively unpredictable nature of data flow and generation, hyperscalers, platform and cloud service customers are becoming increasingly aware of the limitations of data center offerings from entrenched providers with less flexible supply chains. More and more, these organizations are seeking solutions that will allow them to scale rapidly while maintaining operational simplicity in their respective deployments.

In order to solve forecasting issues related to future IT requirements, at Aligned, we’ve standardized both our mechanical and electrical supply chains to more dynamically meet customer needs. We provide electrical inventory in the form of a standardized kit that encompasses medium-voltage power distribution all the way down to the Power Distribution Unit (PDU). On the mechanical side, we provide a complete cooling inventory program from heat rejection to heat absorption. At any given point in time, our vendors hold an approximately 50 MW, auto-replenished pool of available inventory, exclusively for our use, ready for immediate deployment and comprised of prefabricated, factory-built and tested power and cooling equipment.

Aligned prefabricates power and cooling equipment for fast, easy and efficient deployment and scalability, with our intelligent infrastructure allowing delivery of data centers as a utility. Taking the installation of the most critical equipment out of the field and into the factory, prefabricated components accelerate project timelines and reduce cost, as compared to on-site assembly.

Aligned’s incrementally scalable technology allows customers to deploy infrastructure as needed, and reconfigure seamlessly, usually in the same footprint, as requirements change. In fact, we can provision initial deployments of 2 to 20+ MWs of capacity, and scale beyond in as little as three months. New data center builds can be delivered in as few as seven to nine months.

This approach provides hyperscalers, platform and cloud service customers with a simple and repeatable model for expansion into new or existing markets, eliminating financial risk and ensuring on-time project delivery.

You can learn more about how Aligned’s adaptable data center platform and advanced supply chain methodology combine to serve the needs of hyperscalers, platform and cloud service providers by downloading our latest case study.

Read the full article HERE.

Four Elements to Consider for High-density Data Centers

Published by: Andrew Schaap – CEO at Aligned Data Centers

Speed to market, flexibility, and scalability have become mission-critical for hyperscale platforms and large enterprises when expanding or upgrading existing infrastructure.

Meteoric growth and unprecedented scalability demands are outpacing what high capacity data center customers, such as cloud and platform providers and enterprise organizations, want to produce in their own facilities. Moreover, when expanding into existing or new markets, predicting usage and growth models is becoming a complex endeavor fraught with a variety of bottom line risk factors for these organizations.

To solve for this, some companies roll the dice and over-provision, thus increasing CapEx and OpEx. Meanwhile, others may simply be unable to build or obtain data center capacity quickly enough, where and when they need it, thus hamstringing new revenue-generating initiatives. Another challenge these organizations face is that compute loads are becoming more dynamic since capacity demand can vary quarterly or even project by project.

Lastly, but certainly not least, these high capacity customers are affected by the challenge of fulfilling environmental and sustainability mandates — a good thing, to be sure, given the industry’s shared responsibility to become better stewards of the planet. According to a recent study by Dell EMC, the data center industry is consuming 200 terawatt-hours of power each year, the equivalent of one-tenth of the total energy usage worldwide. But it’s not just the tech behemoths that are consuming so much energy; it’s not uncommon for a single data center serving a large enterprise to use the same amount of electricity as a small town.

The good news is that an IHS Markit survey found that internally these organizations are increasingly driven by potential energy cost savings or sustainability policies, while externally they are more and more motivated by their customers’ desire for doing business with companies that have environmentally friendly practices. Additionally, the pursuit of tax incentives and subsidies from governments that proffer a carrot not a stick has become a motivating influence.

Read the full article on Data Center Knowledge HERE.

Aligned CEO Andrew Schaap Named to D CEO’s “Dallas 500” List

Aligned is proud to announce that our Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Schaap, was named to D CEO’s annual list of the 500 most influential business leaders in Dallas. The Dallas 500 celebrates the most influential leaders in North Texas from more than 60 business categories. Produced by the editors of D CEO, the Dallas 500 provides a personal, engaging look at the leaders who make Dallas-Fort Worth’s economy tick.

Headquartered in Plano, TX, we are a leading data center provider offering innovative, sustainable and adaptable colocation and build-to-scale solutions for cloud, enterprise, and managed service providers.  Founded on the premise of solving the world’s toughest challenges associated with data center infrastructure, energy consumption and water usage, our platform is focused on helping companies deliver greater business value with less costly energy and infrastructure resources. Our cooling technology requires up to 80% less power and up to 85% less water, with the ability to run waterless as required, significantly reducing points of failure and lowering the cost of infrastructure by up to 40%.

Andrew’s mission is to make critical data center infrastructure in Dallas and across the U.S. adaptive and efficient enough to enable customers to future-proof their data center environments, while mitigating their environmental impact and achieving a noticeable business advantage. Our customers are able to deploy infrastructure quickly, initiating at one density profile and scaling up to 50 kW per rack without disruption or significant CapEx investment, all while maintaining industry-leading Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). It was this mission and capability that earned Andrew the nomination to the Dallas 500.

“I am honored to be named among the most influential business leaders in Dallas,” said Schaap. “Dallas is a region that is constantly raising the bar for the technology industry.  With that, this accolade is a testament to my commitment in enabling Aligned to become the data center change agent for adaptability and sustainability, both in Dallas as well as on the global stage.”

Dallas 500 2019 honorees attended an exclusive reception at The Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas on November 4.


Supply Chain Scale: Meeting the Need for Speed

Published by: Andrew Schaap – CEO at Aligned Data Centers

As compute loads become more dynamic as demand varies from month to month, day to day, hour to hour and project to project, the supporting infrastructure needs evolve. Today’s forward-looking companies, including hyperscalers, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) providers, and enterprises with high-density computing requirements, require a data center provider that offers adaptive, future-proof infrastructure solutions. The endgame is to provide these organizations with flexible Colocation or Build-to-Scale solutions that are designed to maintain pace with their ever-changing workloads and scalability requirements.  

Equally business-critical is the ability to build or obtain data center capacity quickly enough, when and where they need it, which means ensuring fast project delivery and deployment. For these types of organizations, slow speed-to-market is the Achille’s heal to new revenue-generating initiatives or business expansions in new or existing markets.

To solve for the need for speed and other challenges, Aligned leverages a standardized supply chain methodology, proven technologies and best-of-breed partners that enable data center builds to be delivered in as few as six months. We can also provision initial deployments of 2 to 20-plus MWs of capacity, and scale beyond in as little as 12 weeks.

Take for example our new 26-acre, 180 MW master-planned data center campus in Ashburn, Virginia. Ashburn is the largest data center market in North America and continues to be a key location for hyperscalers, cloud and platform providers due to its proximity to major population centers, abundant fiber, affordable and reliable power, and favorable tax incentives. Leveraging our standardized supply chain and dedicated inventory pool, Aligned constructed a 370,000 square-foot data center and built out the first 12MW of data center space, expandable to 60 MW, in less than six months. Northern Virginia has long been a strategic priority for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce, in addition to data-driven companies such as Uber, LinkedIn, and Dropbox.

In other Aligned markets, such as Salt Lake City, the rapidity with which Aligned brought its data center online further underscores its design and delivery effectiveness. Completed in just six months, the 300,000 sq. ft. site initially provides a 75,000 sq. ft. data hall, 15,000 sq. ft. of rentable office space, and 9,700 sq. ft. of technical burn-in and storage space. The building also features a dedicated loading dock, conference rooms, drop-in office pods, a café area, and shower facilities. Situated on 55 acres, including a dedicated on-site substation, the facility will deliver 130 MW of critical capacity and grow to 600,000 sq. ft. at full build.

Aligned Salt Lake City - SLC-01

So strong is the demand that Aligned is experiencing for our adaptive data center platform that our Dallas and Phoenix data centers have also undergone recent expansions to better serve customers that require dynamically scalable, efficient and reliable infrastructure.

We’ve recently announced an 8 MW expansion of our Dallas, Texas-area data center, DFW-01. The expansion at the 19-acre campus, which at full build-out will support a 375,000 square-foot, 60 MW facility, is in response to rising customer demand for Aligned’s adaptive and intelligent infrastructure solutions. Last year also saw a 200,000-sq.-ft. expansion at Aligned’s Phoenix data center campus, which added 60 MW while substantially increasing the amount of space available to our clients.

How is it possible for a data center provider to go from delivering 5.5 MW of capacity to more than 550 planned MW in such a short time frame?

  • A standardized supply chain – which features an electrical equipment inventory in the form of a standardized kit that encompasses medium-voltage power distribution all the way down to the Power Distribution Unit (PDU). On the mechanical side, Aligned provides a complete cooling inventory program from heat rejection to heat absorption.
  • Inventory – A byproduct of standardization, having inventory is the number one risk mitigator when it comes to delivering on time. At any given point in time, Aligned’s vendors hold a 50 MW, auto-replenished pool of available inventory, ready for immediate deployment. Aligned also prefabricates power and cooling equipment for fast, easy and efficient deployment and scalability. Compared to on-site assembly, prefabricated components accelerate project timelines and reduce cost.
  • Adaptable design – our technology eliminates the need for raised floors and complex cooling systems. Aligned’s award-winning, patented cooling technology, Delta Cube (Delta³), allows customers to deploy infrastructure where and when they need it — and reconfigure quickly and seamlessly, and usually within the same footprint — as their requirements change.
  • Strong capital partners – Between our secured loan with Goldman Sachs, and equity investments from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners and Blue Mountain Capital Management, Aligned has a clear path to take advantage of future expansion opportunities and help you meet data center growth requirement

According to Cisco, in two years, hyperscalers will account for 55 percent of all data center traffic, 65 percent of all data stored, and 69 percent of all data center processing power. Granted, these figures are only projections, not certainties. However, for these and other high-growth, high-capacity customers, we can be certain that the need to match speed-to-market with scale and minimal risk exposure will only continue, as will the need of a data center provider that can solve these and other challenges as they emerge, now and into the future.

Read the full article HERE.