When it comes to an always-on, always-available expectation, 100% uptime defines customer satisfaction and business success. Traditional providers believe the only way to deliver that type of reliability in the data center is to build two or more of everything. But it doesn’t need to be that way; we can have our cake and eat it, too. Here, learn from reliability expert Steve Fairfax about how Aligned Data Centers delivers truly best-in-class reliability.
This blog post expands on a video interview with Steve Fairfax, president of MTechnology and leading data center reliability expert.
MTechnology specializes in Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) – applying mathematics and science to optimize data center reliability. The company’s president, Steve Fairfax, explains that probability analysis provides a more complete picture of the interaction between components of the data center building, power distribution system, and cooling system. With that probability analysis, data center operators can use predictive modeling to guide their decisions to optimize uptime and efficiency.
The “most reliable cooling system”
Among the most demanding data center users are financial services institutions; they typically demand very high reliability. According to Fairfax, these institutions’ data centers consistently score between 0.5% and 2% probability of failure per year. Put another way: their data centers should be expected to fail, on average, once every 50-200 years.
MTechnology was first introduced to Aligned Data Centers when working with Inertech, one of the Aligned Energy platform of companies. Inertech invented what Fairfax calls “a very unique cooling system product” for the data center. Particularly unique: its reliability.
“We did a detailed analysis of [the Inertech] system and it scored very well,” Fairfax says. “It was .25% probability of failure per year, which was the best cooling system score we’d seen in almost 20 years in this business.”
Aligned Data Centers’ reliability target
Where most traditional data center providers bring in reliability experts to assess how well their data centers are running, Aligned Data Centers “was unique in that they approached us while the paper was still blank,” Fairfax says. “Instead of building the facility and asking us what the reliability was, they told us their reliability target and gave us a seat at the table to participate in the design process in order to make sure that they achieved that goal.”
That reliability target: twice as good as the most demanding financial institutions – 0.25% chance of failure per year, once in 400 years.
Best-in-class cooling + best-in-class generation
Fairfax says that when he learned of Aligned Energy’s plan to begin building data centers, he immediately thought of PowerSecure generators. “Our studies have consistently shown that the generator is by far the most important part of a data center in terms of affecting its reliability,” he explains.
Aligned Data Centers already had a best-in-class cooling system; it only made sense to marry that with a best-in-class generation system.
More reliable than nuclear plant standby generators
PowerSecure was the first large generator fleet operator to give MTechnology full access to their operating data. Fairfax remembers that PowerSecure’s reliability was already best-of-breed, equivalent to the reliability of nuclear power plant standby diesel generators.
But PowerSecure didn’t rest on their laurels; Fairfax says that the company has continued to dramatically improve the reliability of their generators by following a process of continuous improvement called Reliability Growth Management. A PowerSecure generator is now 2.5 times more reliable than four years ago.
Planning for long term reliability
At Aligned Data Centers, we’re using the same techniques to design our facilities and to incorporate continuous improvement in the operations and maintenance of the data centers. “By integrating Reliability Growth Management techniques into both design and operations,” Fairfax says, “Aligned Data Centers is creating a new business model for data centers.”
At Aligned Data Centers, we have engineered our data centers to be both highly resilient and energy efficient by removing the complexities of traditional infrastructure. The electrical and mechanical systems we utilize are designed for concurrent maintainability and to significantly reduce water and power consumption, and have been commissioned in some of the most demanding production environments.