On April 27, Aligned Data Centers opened the doors of our new Phoenix data center to a group of nearly 300 industry professionals from across the data center industry. Before hosting tours of the data center, Aligned CEO Jakob Carnemark and Dean Nelson, the head of Uber Compute, shared their thoughts on the future of the data center with Julie Albright, a USC professor whose work focuses on the social aspects of technology.
Read on for highlights from the panel discussion, with paraphrased comments from Jakob and Dean.
What are the challenges (and opportunities) associated with ‘greening’ the data center?
Jakob Carnemark, Founder and CEO of Aligned
The cloud players, especially, have made great strides in their use of renewable energy to power the data center. But the problem is that renewable energy is a dynamic supply, where data centers require stable base load energy. That creates stress on the grid and makes grid frequency very difficult to maintain, a problem exacerbated by increasingly dynamic IT loads. To help mitigate the issue, this data center [Aligned Data Centers Phoenix] can actually latch on to the grid to help keep the grid frequency at the right rate and disconnect from the grid when frequency falls too low. So imagine the reliability benefit of being able to predict when the grid is going to have an issue. It also allows for greater reliance on sustainable resources.
The other aspect of ‘greening’ the data center, in our approach, is dramatic reduction of water consumption. Our data center can save up to 85% of the water consumed by a traditional data center of the same size (here’s why it matters). [Not to mention a dramatic reduction in energy consumption.]
Dean Nelson, Head of Uber Compute
Before we can think about ‘greening’ the data center, we have to think about availability. 99% of the world has no idea that we [data centers] exist. But they expect it to work. And when data centers go down, the impact has a domino effect. After availability, we can ask ‘Is it efficient?’ ‘Is it environmentally sustainable?’ We’re responsible for all three.
Infrastructure Masons (a global data center industry group) recently released a first iteration of the Data Center Performance Index (DCPI), which focuses on the actual performance of data centers from those three standpoints. The DCPI is designed to let data center consumers see what they’re getting with one provider versus another on those three metrics of availability, efficiency, and environmental sustainability.
“Data center builders and operators, we are infrastructure masons. We are the builders of the digital age.” – Click to Tweet
What is your prediction for the future of the data center?
If you look at the innovation happening right now – from Amazon using drones for delivery to Uber’s self-driving cars, and so many other examples of technological innovation – we haven’t even gotten started with the growth of the data center industry. Consider 8K video, a doubling of bandwidth, which alone will result in a huge increase in data center demand. We really are just at the beginning of the data center industry’s growth.
“If you look at the amount of growth that’s about to happen in data – and data centers – we’re just at the beginning.” – Click to Tweet
The rapid pace of innovation is going to continue to escalate. In the last two years alone we’ve generated more data than in the entire history of the world before that. The amount of data is insane. And looking to the next decade, we’re going to have a much, much larger increase in compute even than we’ve seen in the last years because of the trends that Jakob referenced.
The huge increase in compute is going to strain data centers and strain resources. But there is a tremendous opportunity to innovate the data center to reliably, efficiently, and sustainably support the future.