DCD Zero Downtime: The Bi-Weekly Data Center Show
DCD Zero Downtime: The Bi-Weekly Data Center ShowMay 18, 2023
Episode 32 - Underground data centers with Andrew Bourget, Eccus
Having trouble finding a location for your data center project? This DCD podcast could have the answer. Build underground.
Andrew Bourget of Swiss engineering firm Eccus has a design for a 2MW data center built in an underground tunnel - and he can dig that tunnel wherever you want it, even under existing buildings.
The way he tells it, tunneling is the future. There's no planning permission required, and you can build under your existing facility. You can migrate underground, and still have your above-ground space available for offices or to rent out. Is he serious?
Time will tell. He's currently working on projects in Switzerland and France - with his eye on London, where the clay subsoil is apparently ideal for underground data center vaults.
Episode 31 - Mark Bjornsgaard of Deep Green on heating swimming pools with data center heat
In March this year, a swimming pool in Devon, UK, was the unlikely setting for the most widely covered data center story (so far) of 2023.
A small immersion-cooled high-performance computing module from Deep Green is giving its heat to the swimming pool, saving Exmouth Leisure Centres £20,000 ($24,000) per year.
It's not the first time data center waste heat has been harnessed. It's not even the first time it has heated a swimming pool. But Deep Green CEO Mark Bjornsgaard tells us that, this time, all the pieces are in place to make the idea mainstream.
In the future, he asks, why should the heat from any computing be wasted?
Put it another way: if all our heating needs were produced by GPUs and CPUs, that would provide way more computing power than we currently know how to use.
Episode 30 - The state of cloud gaming and VR with Omdia's George Jijiashvili
Cloud gaming was heralded as the future of games, and was set to become a major data center workload. Now, after the death of Google Stadia and layoffs at Amazon's Luna, what's left for data center gaming? We catch up with Omdia's George Jijiashvili to discuss all things gaming, as well as VR, AR, and a dash of the metaverse.
Episode 29 - The nuclear energy silver bullet with Tony Grayson, Compass Data Centers and Alan Howard, OMDIA
As 2030 approaches, the pressure on data centers to meet their carbon pledges continues to increase. This, compounded with the challenge of energy supply insecurity and rising costs, is driving data centers to look to new methods of powering their operations, which has triggered nuclear power to come to the fore. However, as a result of historical disasters as well as the upfront costs, there is hesitancy in the data center industry to make the move to nuclear.
This podcast will take a deep dive into the future of nuclear in the data center market, and explore how the heavy regulation of this industry makes it a safe and reliable method of energy generation. However, despite there being some clear use cases of its viability, we are many years off from nuclear becoming a widely used power source owing to its economic feasibility. This begs the questions: when will it be deployed at scale? What is the practicality of SMRs? What technology will be used to bridge the gap as we wait for a nuclear solution?
Episode 28 - The future of hyperscale networking, with Juniper Networks' Mike Bushong
As data center demands grow, hyperscalers are building out vast networks that will help define the future of how infrastructure is interconnected. In the latest episode of the DCD Zero Downtime podcast, we connect with Juniper Networks' group vice president of cloud-ready data center, Mike Bushong, to discuss what this means, and what we should expect next. Plus we discuss AI, silicon photonics, telecoms, the race to 800G, and more.
Episode 27 - The 2G and 3G switch-off and what it means for 5G and IoT with Wireless Logic Group CPO, Paul Bullock
Recently there’s been a number of mobile operators switching off their 3G networks around the world, or scheduling to phase out this old technology.
2G has also been spoken about at length, but has a slightly longer shelf-life than 3G, as it provides a backbone that still supports the IoT industry today.
But what does any of this mean, and why does it matter? Well, Wireless Logic Group Chief Product Officer Paul Bullock explains why the need to switch off 3G is necessary for the future of 5G.
It’s not just 5G, he adds, noting that IoT will gain a lot from the switch off of this service, although he acknowledges that 2G will be more of a challenge to phase out.
Tune in to listen to the full discussion...
Episode 26 - There's something about Maryland, with Quantum Loophole CEO Josh Snowhorn
As land and power in Virginia's Loudoun County become increasingly scarce, data center developers are seeking fresh ground on which build. While many are moving south within Virginia to the likes of Prince William County, Quantum Loophole is hoping to lure companies north into Maryland.
A former aluminum smelting works, the company's maiden campus is reportedly luring cloud companies and the hyperscale developers serving them on a huge scale.
CEO Josh Snowhorn talks us through the company's history and its 2,000+acre gigawatt project located just north from Loudoun across the Potomac river.
Episode 25 - Meeting the pioneer of Meet-me rooms with Hunter Newby
Hunter Newby doesn't claim to have invented the Meet-Me Room, but he created one of the first, in the iconic and historical Manhattan facility, 60 Hudson Street, in about 1998
At the time data centers had separate connections from multiple carriers, and linking between those carriers meant running a link between their connection points - and paying them heavily. Hunter set up a room where the networks all met up for physical (layer 0) connections - and the rest is history.
It's a well-documented history because he went on to write a series of magazine articles "Meet Me In New York", "Meet Me In Chicago" etc, about interconnection facilities in major US cities. That series is archived on his site, alongside live data of connections for each of those cities from the open peering resource, PeeringDB.
Today, there are still not enough Meet-Me rooms. Some US states with large cloud facilities don't have nearby carrier hotels, so local user traffic has to go out to a city like Chicago and back. Hunter's wants to foster neutral carrier hotels where there are none.
Why is 60 Hudson Street the Ellis Island of the Internet? And did Hunter ever write "Meet Me In St Louis"?
Listen in, and meet Hunter Newby..
Episode 24 - Immerse yourself in liquid cooling with NAAT CTO Julius Neudorfer
Join us for an extended discussion with CTO and founder of North American Access Technologies Julius Neudorfer about the history of liquid cooling, and where he sees the market developing in the future.
Episode 23 - Exploring the Edge with AtlasEdge COO Zahl Limbuwala
Formed by DigitalBridge and Liberty Global, AtlasEdge has quickly become one of the Edge industry's largest players. We chat to COO Zahl Limbuwala about how it defines the Edge and where it places its servers.
Episode 22 - Understanding IT Efficiency with Rich Kenny, Interact managing director
For years, operators have been trying to make their data centers more efficient by optimizing the cooling and power distribution in the facility - and have more or less ignored the IT equipment in the racks.
PUE - the most popular data center metric - simply optimized the ancillary equipment, trying to approach a "perfect" figure of 1.0, where all the power goes into the rack.
But what if you could measure the power used by your IT equipment, run comparative tests, and find out how to reconfigure, replace or update your hardware to improve energy efficiency?
Rich Kenny claims to be able to do that. Interact started as a project by refurbished hardware supplier TechBuyer, aiming to prove that refurbished hardware could be as good as new kit, and grew into a consultancy that compares hardware configurations, and gives guidance on how to do more with less hardware.
Server manufacturers do their business on the basis that new hardware is always more efficient than old hardware, and colo providers would rather you didn't find out that you could do away with half the racks you are renting.
Kenny is shining a light into a dark corner that has not had enough exposure, dissecting the 1 in that PUE figure. He could be about to step on some industry toes...
Episode 21 - How to handle an outage, with Cloudflare CTO John Graham-Cumming
In this episode, we talk to Cloudflare's CTO John Graham-Cumming about how to respond to an outage at your company. We also discuss why the company bans the use of the word "Edge," and talk about the company's 'Supercloud.'
Episode 20 - Talking photonic computing with Lightmatter CEO Nick Harris
Can light be used to compute? We talk to Nick Harris, CEO of chip startup Lightmatter, about how the company hopes to harness photons for AI computing and as a data center interconnect.
Episode 19 - Bits and bricks with Digital Realty CTO Chris Sharp
What does a technologist do at a real estate company? We talk to Digital Realty's CTO Chris Sharp about the importance of understanding both bits and bricks, discuss the company's interconnection efforts, and do a quickfire round on which future technologies will transform the data center.
Episode 18 - The origin of the Internet of Things with Peter Lewis
Most people think the Internet of Things is a recent idea, maybe dating to around the year 2000. In fact, the idea is some 15 years older than that.
In 1985, the Internet was officially two years old. It linked up some 2000 hosts, and a handful of people used email. In that year, cellular phones were the size of bricks, and almost no one had one. And yet, in 1985, Peter T Lewis predicted the two could be combined, so devices could communicate over wireless links.
"I predict that not only humans, but machines and other things will interactively communicate via the Internet," he said. "The Internet of Things, or IoT, is the integration of people, processes, and technology with connectable devices and sensors to enable remote monitoring, status, manipulation, and evaluation of trends of such devices."
Listen to our podcast to find out how Lewis made this astonishingly accurate prediction, years ahead of his time. in a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in 1985. We also find out how his ideas were almost forgotten, and what he thinks of today's IoT.
Episode 17 - The impact of climate legislation on digital infrastructure with Stephen Harper, global director of Intel
After a hiatus of several years, climate change policy is taking off in the US, with the Biden-Harris Administration using the Inflation Reduction Act and the Energy Earthshot to accelerate the clean energy economy.
But data center energy policy goes back a lot further than that. Stephen Harper, Intel's Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, was there 20 years ago when data centers first came onto the climate change radar, and he's been tracking progress since then.
As well as their own emissions "footprint", data centers have a positive impact on emissions elsewhere, known as the environmental "handprint"
But how do we measure that handprint, and set it against the negative impact of infrastructure.
And coming after this backstory, just what impact of these Biden-Harris initiatives have?
DCD speaks to Stephen about the likely impact of historic climate legislation for the digital infrastructure sector.
Episode 16 - Green software with David Mytton, CEO and co-founder of Console
Efforts to reduce the environmental impact of our digital world tend to start with the cooling systems at data centers, and rarely get any further.
The tech industry created PUE as a simple metric which could express how efficiently power is delivered to the racks, but did not consider what happens to that power when it gets there.
That’s not good enough, because poorly written software could be wasting that power in unnecessary loops and fruitless calculations.
The Green Software Foundation has emerged to propose a measure of Software Carbon Intensity that will tell developers if their software is a good planetary citizen.
But this is an issue that gets more complex, the more you look at it. Software that completes quickly must save energy, but what if the software is running on multiple hardware platforms? What about the embodied energy of the hardware you choose for it?
David Mytton is Co-founder & CEO of Console, a company that makes tools for developers. He’s also looked at the energy used in technology, bothy at Imperial College and at the Uptime Institute.
He’s now working on a PhD in sustainable computing at the University of Oxford.
He talks to us about the prospects for Green Software finding its way from academic research, through sponsorship by large vendors, into the hands of developers and consumers.
Episode 15 - Tracking data center power use with LBNL's Dr. Arman Shehabi
As grids around the world struggle to meet demand amid heatwaves and wars, data center power and water usage is increasingly coming under scrutiny. We talk to the researcher who has spent years trying to track the sector's consumption, so that regulators and companies alike can access accurate figures on a secretive sector.
Episode 14 - Building facilities for Google with Sarah Godbehere
What's it like building facilities for Google, in the epicenter of data center construction - Northern Virginia? Sarah Godbehere has spent the last three years managing construction on a Google campus in Northern Virginia. She tells us what it's like to be a young woman in an industry full of older men, and shares how she turns potential conflicts by asking the right questions.
Episode 13 - Carbon accounting and 24x7 green energy with Simone Accornero, FlexiDAO
When a data center firm claims to be 100 percent carbon neutral, can we believe them? Does every electron used in that data come from a solar panel or a wind farm? Until we have reliable carbon accounting, we won't know for sure, and operators will continue to rely on renewable energy certificates (RECs) which match energy consumption over a year, instead of hour by hour.
Simone Accornero, CEO of FlexiDAO says we need "RECs on steroids" to move to hourly carbon accounting, and a blockchain-based protocol can deliver this without costing the earth in energy overheads.
Data centers are a small part of the global electricity market, Accornero says they are ideally suited to drive that market to better carbon accounting, and renewable generation which better matches electricity consumption.
Episode 12 - Sustainability-linked financing and data centers, with Aligned’s Matthew Chambliss
As sustainability continues to become an increasingly important issue for data center owners and operators, many are tying their financing into ESG-related goals. The likes of Green Bonds see proceeds going towards specific green projects, while Sustainability-Linked Loans see interest payments tied to specific targets such as PUE or water use.
Such financing options have been adopted by cloud and data center companies including Equinix, Digital Realty, Atos, Baidu, AirTrunk, and telcos such as Telefonica, NTT, and Verizon.
US operator Aligned’s whole debt pile – more than $3billion – is entirely made up of sustainable-tied financing. Aligned’s VP of Finance, Matthew Chambliss discusses the company’s reasoning and journey to adopting sustainable financing.
Episode 11 - Understanding Bitcoin power use after the crypto crash, with Alex de Vries
Cryptocurrency valuations are in freefall, causing mining to halve. But Bitcoin still consumes as much power as entire nations, amid a climate emergency. We talk to Digiconomist's Alex de Vries about the history of crypto, the crash, and learn just how much power the sector uses - and what it means for the planet.
Episode 10 - Alex Cruz Farmer on the experience of working during lockdown
Working from home expanded massively during the pandemic - but were we ready for such a massive change? The proportion of remote workers grew from 17% of all employees worldwide in 2019 to 32% but the companies weren't fully ready for the change and collaboration tools were often pushed beyond what they were designed for.
Alex Cruz Farmer of Cisco ThousandEyes has the tools to look objectively at the user experience and talks to us about how we can improve it.
Episode 9 - Hydrogen with Mark Monroe, Microsoft
The world needs hydrogen as part of the replacement for fossil fuels - and data centers could be the catalyst for that.
Mark Monroe, Principal Engineer at Microsoft, explains how the hydrogen economy works. He shows us that hydrogen is not just a proven alternative to diesel for backup, but brings other benefits with it.
If data centers switch this small part of their energy needs to hydrogen, this could enable much larger industries to get started - and catalyze a hydrogen economy
Episode 8 - The data center gender gap with Jacqueline van de Werken, Leaseweb
In this episode of the Zero Downtime podcast, we speak to Leaseweb general counsel Jacqueline van de Werken about how to encourage more women in the data center and cloud industry, and how to retain those that do join.
Episode 7 - Biodiversity & bees with Michelle Wallace, Host in Ireland
It's easy to think that sustainable data centers are all about reducing carbon. In fact the earth faces a biodiversity crisis as big as the climate crisis. Data centers can have a role in fighting to prevent extinctions, and produce a lot of other benefits in the process.
When you build a data center, you have to see the unintended consequences, says Michelle Wallace of data center promotion group Host In Ireland. Build badly, and local species will suffer. But it's also easy to get it wrong, to put in measures that don't help.
Host in Ireland went to Ireland's National Biodiversity Data Centre, found how important pollinators are, and put together a set of action to protect and promote them, DCs for Bees is now having influence beyond Ireland, and beyond the data center industry.
It's being followed up with a scheme to plant orchards - and there are more ideas beyond that.
This is the Zero Downtime episode which could make your data center into a haven for nature, and change your life for the better!
Episode 6 - Astrid Wynne Rogers, TechBuyer
Data center operators who want to be sustainable tend to focus in on carbon - but there are a lot more elements in the Periodic Table, And as we progress towards sustainability, we are going to have to consider all of them.
In this podcast, Astrid Wynne Rogers, sustainability lead at TechBuyer tells us why we should pay close attention to the lifecycle of our physical servers and the other equipment in our facilities.
It takes a lot of materials and energy to make equipment, and keeping it out of the waste stream could avoid wasting those resources. But there's more to it than sticking it in a skip for recycling. The circular economy has to join up. With a value put on refurbished equipment, and people actively working to reuse and extend that kit.
It used to be said that replacing old kit with new always saved energy, because Moore's law meant the new equipment was much faster. That is no longer the case, and TechBuyer did the research to prove it.
TechBuyer's paper is available here from IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Computing or here from Techbuyer.
Want another reason to increase your hardware's life? It's a powerful way to reduce "Scope 3" emissions from your supply chain. And you can't get to Net Zero without dealing with Scope 3.
Episode 5 - Holland Barry, Cyxtera
CTOs have traditionally been key positions for research-driven software and technology companies. As colocation companies increasingly move beyond merely serving space and power, the role of the CTO becomes more important.
Holland Barry, Field CTO for Cyxtera, discusses the role of the CTO and Field CTO at the company, the key skills required, and some of the interesting projects the company is working on.
We also discuss the wider skills market and the shift from ‘dumb colo’ to service provider, and get a boots on the ground view of Cyxtera’s journey to becoming a public company via a SPAC merger.
Bonus Episode: Understanding Internet Connectivity in Ukraine & Russia, with Kentik's Doug Madory
DCD's Sebastian Moss talks to Doug Madory, the director of Internet analysis at Kentik, about the developing situation in Ukraine and Russia. We discuss telco disruptions, misinformation, false BGP hijacks, Cogent and Lumen's disconnection claims, whether Russia could drop off from the Internet, and more.
Episode 4 - Wes Swenson, Novva Data Centers
Data center automation is one thing, but what about automatons walking in the data halls? Robots in the data center are often discussed but rarely make it beyond the pilot project stage. Those that are deployed are often closer to Short Circuit’s Johnny 5 than Neill Blomkamp's CHAPPiE.
Utah-based Novva data centers has deployed Boston Dynamics' Spot robot dog – possibly the most advanced robot that is currently commercially available – at its flagship data center and is looking to create a replicable and scalable model for deploying robots in its other current and future facilities. DCD discusses the pains of deploying a robot that is still a way off enterprise-ready plug-and-play with CEO Wes Swenson along with the lack of a wider support ecosystem for robotic deployments, and the future role of humans in the data center.
Episode 3 - Anders Andrae, Huawei Technologies
Figures quoted in 2021 suggested that data centers and communications technology could use eight percent or even 20 percent of the world's electricity by 2030. That seemed too high to us, so we tracked down the original source of the quotes, only to find he feels the same way. Anders Andrae is an academic, currently working at Huawei's Swedish R&D center. Since his original 2015 paper he has revised his predictions down, but the old figures still often show up out of context. More importantly, he thinks we should be looking at the benefits of IT as well as the energy cost. He talks of a "handprint" that counter-balances the environmental "footprint". Andrae says the Internet saves far more emissions, through offering a digital alternative to physical services, than it consumes.
You can find Andrae's research here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anders-Andrae
Episode 2 - Max Schulze, the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance
Data centers are about as efficient as they ever can be, in terms of delivering power to servers and keeping them cool, so what's the next step to sustainable digital infrastructure? There is a lot of talk about reusing the wasted heat that facilities produce, but this seems like a hard job when all too often they can't give it away for free.
Max Schulze is the founder of the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA), a group of stakeholders aiming to achieve a sustainable digital infrastructure by 2030. He thinks the answer to heat reuse is economics, not engineering.
And when we've sorted that out, he foresees that the big cloud providers will be disaggregated, and the cloud will become the same kind of market as the electricity grid.
Episode 1 - Lex Coors, Interxion
In the first episode of the Zero Downtime podcast, we sit down with Lex Coors, winner of DCD's 2021 Outstanding Contribution to the Industry award and Chief Data Center Technology & Engineering Officer for Interxion.
We spoke to Lex about his two decades at the company, from the early days, to the rise of cloud, and the recent Digital Realty acquisition. We also discussed sustainability efforts, the European energy crisis, and how to ensure that local communities don't turn against data centers.