Toronto Insiders Talk the Latest in Infrastructure, Including the Only “Experimental Data Center” in Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO – Tenants can be tricky, and tenant fit-outs can be even trickier. Sometimes they know exactly what they want, and sometimes they don’t know what they need. More often than not, they just want a smooth process that leads to smooth operations. But since data center technology is changing at a rapid pace, it can be useful to pause and look at what clients need.

So at CapRE’s Canadian Data Center Summit, we convened a panel of regional insiders to provide exclusive analysis on the latest in tenant fit-outs. Below, Founder and CEO of CapRE Brian Klebash asked two panelists to share some intel from their unique vantage points.

First, he turned to Suvojit Ghosh, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Computing Infrastructure Research Centre (CIRC) at McMaster University. “Tell us a bit about your infrastructure at McMaster University, from a broader perspective, in terms of size and scope. Do you have a hybrid solution?” asked Klebash.

data center summitThe kind of infrastructure that I oversee is very unique,” he replied. “It’s an experimental data center. It’s Canada’s only facility where you can test out different configurations, and try your ideas before you deploy them in production. So I don’t personally run a production facility, per se. but overall at the University, there are about a dozen data centers, big and small. Some of them are high performance computing. Where all that you care about is cheap computing. So you’ll see cabinets that go up to 20 or 25 kilowatts. With no redundancy and no UPS, it’s basically straight power.”

“Then there are obviously the University’s own colocation sites, where individual business units can come in and look at their servers,” he continued. “So that requires a little bit more in terms of resiliency and redundancy. So you’ll see that typically — what we would call a Tier III equivalent.”

“And then at the other end of the spectrum is our University’s production systems – which are what would be hosting our distance-learning modules, even our own digital internal education modules,” concluded Ghosh. “These are usually run in a private Cloud kind of a scenario. So we have on-premise equipment, with some facilities that are usually, as a back-up, located on a private cloud elsewhere.”

Next, Klebash turned to Jeff Balsdon, Senior Director of Data Center Operations at Rogers. “Jeff, let’s talk about Rogers a bit,” Klebash suggested. “Why don’t you describe the new trends relative to design and construction of facilities here in Canada, from the construction side, ground-up in data centers, this year?”

“That’s a good question,” replied Balsdon. “I think that, you know, one of the things I talked about earlier was having construction standards or basic guidelines to start from. One of the things that we’ve learned, and I’m sure everyone in this room that runs a colocation facility has learned too, is that you design and you architect these facilities to meet a certain KBA per rack, if you will.”

“When customers move in, I’m sure you can appreciate, that things never actually turn out in reality as designed,” he continued. “So some of the things that we’ve actually learned to do over the last couple of years is re-leverage some of the capacity that we’ve deployed. Take a pod, for example.

“Let’s hypothetically say that there are three generators there,” he elucidated, before concluding. “You build a Pod 2, and there are another three generators there. well the capacity is typically always overbuilt – that’s what we see – so what we are doing is actually redeploying that capacity throughout the data center. So say it’s on capital and it gets higher utilization of the existing assets that we’ve got, so deploying in a modular fashion doesn’t strand a whole bunch of capacity that would have otherwise been stranded if you had deployed everything all at once.”

For more from these insiders, check out a previous CapRE Insider Reports: Jeff Balsdon, Rogers: Stick to Your Build Standards When Starting Any Fit-Out

Banner Photo (L-R): Jeff Balsdon, Senior Director, Data Center Operations, Rogers & Suvojit Ghosh, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Computing Infrastructure Research Centre (CIRC), McMaster University