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.

Growing Need for Adaptable, Sustainable Infrastructure Drives Aligned’s Latest Expansion in Silicon Slopes

It’s been a little over four months since we officially opened the doors of our Salt Lake City-area facility in West Jordan. In those four short months, we’ve received great feedback regarding the meaningful, positive impact of our efficient, highly reliable and adaptive data center platform.

Completed in just six months, the first phase of data center construction showcased not only the support of our customers and the greater Salt Lake City community, but also the hard work and dedication of our platform and operations teams as well as construction and technology partners.  It also substantiated the effectiveness and critical nature of Aligned’s advanced supply chain methodology and inventory management system.

Since then, we’ve embarked on the second phase of expansion to serve the fourth generation of Utah tech.  Our construction teams are hard at work in response to the growing needs of cloud providers, enterprise companies and our existing customers in the region, all whom require an adaptive, reliable and sustainable colocation solution.

“Aligned’s latest expansion in West Jordan is a critical milestone in the company’s next growth phase, and we couldn’t have gotten here without the support of our customers, partners, team and surrounding community,” says Andrew Schaap, CEO of Aligned.

Aligned Salt Lake City features our patented, award-winning heat rejection technology, Delta Cube; the platform is also underpinned by Aligned’s VSAS™ methodology – velocity, scalability, adaptability, and sustainability.  Located on 55 acres, including a dedicated on-site substation, the 600,000-square-foot facility can deliver up to 130 MW of critical capacity and industry-leading Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).

The state of Utah and the Salt Lake City area met even the most stringent criteria of Aligned’s rigorous data center site selection process.  Boasting an extensive fiber infrastructure, the state ranks first in the West and eighth worldwide for fastest internet connectivity speeds. Utah also ranks fifth in the nation for national disaster safety, and its cold desert classification allows for ambient air cooling.  Combine that with some of the cheapest electricity and natural gas rates in the nation, and it’s no surprise 451 Research ranks Silicon Slopes as a top 10 U.S. multi-tenant data center market.  The skiing isn’t bad either.

In addition to these data center drivers, the state also boasts a rich history of playing a critical role in championing innovations that underpinned numerous Industrial Revolutions. Just North of Salt Lake City in 1860, for example, the last golden spike was hammered into the ground, marking the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad — one of the First Industrial Revolution’s major innovations.  A year later near the city center, the final link between the East and West Coast’s telegraph networks was established, and with it, so was the Second Industrial Revolution.  Jumping ahead to just 45 years ago, on Aligned Salt Lake City’s very data center site, National Semiconductor built a manufacturing facility to fabricate its first wafer silicon chip. This invention ignited the Third Industrial Revolution.

As we now stand on the brink of the next great disruptive innovations, the Salt Lake City area and Aligned’s data center are poised to play another significant role in their perpetuation.  From the adaptable platform to the next-generation technologies we have deployed there, we believe Aligned Salt Lake City as well as our entire network of data centers are the new engines of innovation for not only the next Utah tech wave, but also for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To learn more about Aligned’s Salt Lake City-area facility in West Jordan, visit




The Rise of the Adaptive Data Center

Published by: Andrew Schaap – CEO at Aligned Data Centers

Addressing the evolving needs of the high-capacity buyer

The data center sector has changed dramatically over the last decade, with hyperscale and platform providers driving the most recent building boom. According to new data published by Synergy Research Group, the number of large data centers operated by hyperscale providers rose by 11% in 2018, reaching 430 by the end of the year; another 132 remain in the pipeline.

What’s driving the surge? The major public cloud service providers increasingly attract the migration of ever-expanding enterprise workloads. The leading social networks have a business model founded on consumers eagerly providing them with troves of invaluable personal data. And the raison d’être of over the top (OTTs, content providers that distribute streaming media as a standalone product) is filling the bulk of our free time with seemingly infinite libraries of entertainment.

Business at this scale appears to have reached not so much an upward trend as an irresistible gravitational force; but with success comes challenges. Among the most prominent tests these digital giants face is to strategically manage compute, network, and storage capacity effectively and efficiently to keep up with surging demand.

Use of hyperscale platforms and services is critical to daily business operations. For example, consider how the multinational enterprise has evolved from siloed approaches of production to workflows based on new tools and technology platforms offering increased collaboration. However, with digital transformation comes the on-demand consumer, who will not tolerate even a transient blip in service delivery — an issue that oftentimes results from constraints of resources and infrastructure.

Equally, if not more significant, has been the veritable data tsunami that continues to engulf cloud and platform providers every day. To provide a useful reference point, according to IBM, more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created daily in 2016. By estimates provided by IDC, data creation since the dawn of the internet has doubled in size every two years, and by 2025, the amount of data created and copied annually will grow to 163 zettabytes (ZB), or one trillion gigabytes. That equates to ten times the 16.1 ZB of data generated just three years ago.

As the capacity needs of hyperscale giants, platform and cloud providers, and enterprises using high-density computing continue to swell, they must continually roll out scalable infrastructure that supports their expansion strategically, while simultaneously maintaining the same quality of service expected of them, for an increasingly larger and geographically diverse user base.

Read the full article on Mission Critical Magazine here.

Aligned Named NVIDIA DGX-Ready Data Center Partner

Aligned has been named an NVIDIA DGXReady Data Center Partner.  Among NVIDIA’s inaugural data center partners, Aligned is specially qualified to help organizations in the U.S. streamline the building and deployment of their own DGX system-based artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure.

The NVIDIA DGX-Ready Data Center program provides customers with access to a qualified network of NVIDIA colocation partners and world-class data center facilities such as Aligned.  Aligned’s data center platform and intelligent technologies can support accelerated computing operations, while also mitigating the challenges typically associated with facilities planning.

AI and deep learning workloads place unique demands on data center resources, requiring careful consideration and planning from a power and cooling perspective. Industry-leading systems such as NVIDIA’s DGX require forward-thinking data center facilities complete with adaptable, sustainable infrastructure that can accommodate large power densities and remove heat at its source, while cost-effectively supporting scale.

Aligned powers next-generation technologies such as NVIDIA’s through four core pillars of its data center platform: Velocity, Scalability, Adaptability and Sustainability – or VSAS™.

Focused on an advanced supply chain and site selection process, Aligned’s Velocity allows new data center builds to be delivered in as few as six months.  These initial deployments typically range from 2 to 20+ MW, and scale beyond in as little as three months.  At any given point in time, Aligned vendors hold an approximately 50 MW, auto-replenished pool of available inventory, ready for immediate deployment and comprised of prefabricated, factory-built and tested power and cooling equipment.

Our patented cooling technology, Delta Cube (Delta³), allows for maximum Scalability.  Customers can deploy infrastructure where and when they need it, and reconfigure quickly and seamlessly (and usually within the same footprint) as their requirements change. They can initiate at one density profile and scale up to 50 kW per rack without disruption.  Looking beyond standard chilled water or compression technologies to drive cooling efficiencies, Aligned also remains flexible enough to design reliable data center solutions for capacities extending beyond 50 kW per rack.

Aligned’s Adaptable infrastructure enables customers to deploy infrastructure quickly as needed (and reconfigure seamlessly if necessary) as their businesses grow – allowing for true future-proofing.

Founded on the premise of solving energy consumption and water usage challenges associated with data center infrastructure, Aligned is helping companies meet their Sustainability goals, deliver greater business value with less costly energy and infrastructure resources.

Discover how Aligned can streamline the building and deployment of your NVIDIA DGX system-based AI data center by contacting [email protected].

Additional information regarding the program can be found on the NVIDIA DGX-Ready Data Center website.

The Top 5 Challenges of Data Disposal

The cost of a data breach can be astronomical. Each record lost is estimated to cost a business $141. While individually that doesn’t seem like much, consider the scale. When an enterprise business comes under attack, the number of records can mean a $3.62 million price tag. With businesses investing in more hardware—31 percent of IT budgets are earmarked for hardware purchases—it opens the door to a new possible security breach. Outdated hardware often contains sensitive information, meaning that businesses don’t just need to watch for frontline attacks, they also need to watch the back door of data disposal. When trying to keep data out of the wrong hands, several challenges present themselves.

1. Creating Clear Disposal Policies

When upgrading to new systems, tossing old systems into the trash or donating them to a nonprofit might seem like the most efficient solution, but without solid policies in place to guide when, and more importantly how, these disposal options are handled, you might be giving away your corporate data for free. A surprising amount of sensitive information may be stored locally on devices, making it important for your business to have a checklist in place for what to do with any decommissioned device that has internal storage.

2. Controlling Shadow IT Devices

Your company may not hand out flash drives or load data onto discs, but that doesn’t mean employees are as discriminating. To get the job done, employees will often adopt processes that don’t have a security-first mindset. For example, someone in marketing might download a list of leads to a flash drive for a quick handoff to the sales department. If that flash drive isn’t part of your IT inventory, how do you know what happens to it, and the data stored on the drive?

3. Managing BYOD Mobile Situations

Handing out smartphones to dozens or hundreds of employees can get expensive, which is why many companies have switched to a Bring Your Own Device model. When employees use their own phones to access sensitive information, they may not have enough security installed to protect it, and what happens to their existing phone when they upgrade? All of these questions should be part of any decisions about mobile policy and data access.

4. Decisions about Encryption vs. Erasure

Permanently deleting data from hard drives is virtually impossible, which may be one reason to implement physical destruction for older drives. With newer solid-state drives, sometimes encryption is a better solution than erasing data. After all, you have a limited nmumber of times you can re-write to these drives before they become inoperable. Top-level encryption can keep your data alost as secure, without the need for a NIST-licensed incinerator.

5. The Challenge of Total Data Destruction

Most storage devices don’t easily delete data. Shadows are left behind. With the right software, a hacker can come along behind you and recreate a lot of the content you ‘deleted.’ For actual data disposal, physical destruction of the storage device is the most secure method. That doesn’t mean taking a hammer to your old servers, but it does mean pulling your drives and sending them to a disposal facility. This process is time-consuming and expensive, so it should only be implemented for your most private storage units.

Many businesses are moving toward cloud-based solutions, in part to avoid some of these challenges. When your sensitive data is stored elsewhere, you don’t need to worry about disposal, though you will want to know how your vendor handles the issue.

Data Security Forecasts through 2020

When talking about technology, security is always a top-line issue. Data breaches are costly and a near-constant risk. Today, 54 percent of companies report being the victim of a successful cyber attack. Many companies faced with data loss never recover, so identifying and plugging holes in your security is a crucial task. With the number of cyber attacks always on the rise, you need to keep security at the forefront of your planning. Here are a few data security forecasts to watch for and possible solutions for the next few years.

  1. 99% of breaches exploit known risks. Cyber attacks happen, but the method of attack is often through a hole in security that has been identified for at least a year before the attack happens. Your security professionals know that an attack is possible, so be prepared to focus your efforts where they will do the most good—fixing known vulnerabilities.
  2. Shadow IT is a major risk factor. While many third-party programs offer big productivity boots, shadow IT solutions don’t come with the same protections as those deployed by your IT department. Google Docs might be a quick way to share information and get feedback, but it can also leave your documents exposed to hackers. Develop policies that inform and secure these shadowy programs so your business can stay agile without opening any doors to outsiders.
  3. Cloud-based solutions lead to flying attacks. Analysts predict that the cloud will be a standard part of any IT stack by 2020, which also leads to the need to protect that digital space. Since IT can’t secure cloud data with physical resources, data protection becomes the next best thing. Stronger encryption, better passwords, two-factor authentication, and other increasingly sophisticated strategies will be a must as the cloud becomes part of life on the ground for businesses.
  4. Be prepared to leave passwords behind. As recognition software platforms become more applicable, the need for passwords disappears. When software can use facial recognition, voice recognition or even your typing rhythm, you won’t need to remember a complex password or carry a security token to access systems. Start looking at these security options now, and be ready to deploy them as soon as you feel they are ready.
  5. Invest in IoT security. Predictions say IoT devices could be involved in up to 25 percent of cyber attacks, which means this is an area that needs some better defenses. This is particularly true when you realize that a recent HP report noted that 70 percent of common IoT devices have known security vulnerabilities. Since these devices provide a point of access, you really need to close the gates before malicious code jumps from the IoT to your secured network.

More technology options mean significant improvements to business processes. Unfortunately, this boost comes with the price tag of more attack vectors for malicious coders. More devices and more access points add up to more spending on IT security and education. Done right, IT security can be the guard dog it should be, sending the burglar on to the next, less protected house.