Q&A with Enabled Energy: Solutions, Solutions, Solutions
by Josh Anderson
LITTLETON, CO – Enabled Energy is a data center infrastructure services company providing turnkey retrofit and design services for the critical environment. Enabled Energy offers a full suite of data center engineering, construction, and business intelligence solutions all of which are focused on optimizing the built or new data center environment. Enabled Energy is headquartered in Colorado and was named Xcel Energy’s 2016 Trade Partner of the Year for Data Center Programs. CapRate recently spoke with some leaders at Enabled Energy to learn more about their mission, their latest activity, and one of their most exciting customer solutions – the implementation of intelligent retrofit fans for existing CRAC/CRAH units, reducing costs to deliver cooling dynamically while extending the life of the existing infrastructure, thereby decreasing costs for the clients exponentially.
CapRate: Thanks for speaking with us today. Please tell our readers a bit about Enabled Energy.
Joe Staib, Principal: Enabled Energy is a data center infrastructure services company. We touch on everything from data center engineering to construction to business intelligence. We really try to break things down into two key points – people and processes. Most of our work is taking an existing asset and optimizing it to accommodate today’s compute workloads.
CapRate: And you’re in the business of solutions, right?
Joe Staib, Principal: Yes. Our job is twofold; to go in and understand those existing data centers that were built for certain design parameters 15-20 years ago, and say, “Okay, loads are changing, operations are changing, your people are changing. Let’s look at your ecosystem and operation and see what improvements can be made.” Also, with the new build data center, to work along side your vendors to ensure the optimal infrastructure design. Our last work with Overstock’s Data Center resulted in a PUE of 1.07. That’s what we offer. We also help chart a course toward the future.
CapRate: Tell me about some of your solutions.
Jon deRidder, Principal: You always hear about efficiency and sustainability, and those are important to everyone, but the most important word that applies to the data center ecosystem is availability. Data Centers must remain available to those who depend on them. In order to remain available, there has to be a focus on reliability. Other than the IT load, the biggest use of power is cooling. A large percent of our solutions have to do with optimizing cooling to reduce the power consumption. Cooling is still not well understood by Data Center operators, and it becomes complicated in a hurry. We listen to the needs of our clients, assess where they are and provide solutions to help them get where they want to go. That typically means increasing the availability of the system at a lower total cost.
CapRate: And I hear that Enabled Energy has had some exciting solutions lately using retrofit fans. How did this come to be?
Jon deRidder, Principal: Every data center has a need to reliably handle the heat loads in their environment. That starts with insuring that the delivery system, the supply air, has an opportunity to reach its intended target, which is the intake of compute equipment. During the assessment phase, we help the customer identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the air flow system. In this case though, let’s assume we have a perfect air flow distribution path; this means that all of the money being paid to deliver the air is doing its job. The next question becomes how do I deliver? Because the compute load has evolved and is dynamic, we now have an opportunity to deliver conditioned air dynamically. Our EC fan retrofit works with the capacity of the system, by supplying the correct amount of airflow when needed. This delivers airflow at the lowest possible cost. In addition to reducing OPEX, the other noteworthy benefit is this retrofit allows our clients to postpone significant CAPEX costs by extending the life of the existing equipment.
Peter Crook, Strategic Marketing: That’s key here for an existing facility; extending vs replacing. Think about replacing it – that’s not only capital expenditures that Jon mentioned, that’s disruption in your Data Center. Enabled Energy is vendor neutral. We’re not going to push you to a specific brand or vendor. We’re going to work with you, listen to you, and figure it out based on what you have with your existing infrastructure and vendor relationships. Less disruption while increasing efficiency and equipment life and reducing energy and maintenance costs.
CapRate: That sounds like a lot of compounding returns.
Jon deRidder, Principal: Definitely. Our last project had an ROI of 8 months. As we’ve gone through these projects, we’ve also strategically partnered with utility companies working to identify potential rebate dollars made available to our clients to do these things. This further compounds the cost savings. The ability to deliver air dynamically at the lowest energy spend, and with added rebates, allows for a very favorable financial outcome as opposed to doing nothing or replacing the cooling systems.
CapRate: So there seems to be a lot going on here behind the scenes with internal and external dollars.
Jon deRidder, Principal: It is more than rebates. Our solutions pay for themselves. We develop a “design-in-place retrofit solution” customized to their needs, as opposed to trying to find a product off the shelf. That’s why we have been successful at helping our clients compete for internal dollars.
CapRate: What kind of payback have you seen your customers enjoy?
Jon deRidder, Principal: Our clients continue to see payback periods within 1-2 years. I’ve seen as quick as six months. The higher the utility rate, the quicker the payback. If I’m paying $0.11 kWh, and the motor is on all year long, then any reduction in consumption is going to be better than if I am only paying $0.05 kWh. With fans, we can redirect power from PUE to actual compute. Then tune the data center to use what it needs, as opposed to oversubscribe or undersubscribe the cooling resources. You’ll get the most out of your investment.
CapRate: Indeed you will. Thank you for your time, gentlemen.