Want to Know the Next Innovation in Data Center Design? Look to Business Models First, says Bruce Edwards, CCG Facilities

Apr 13, 2018
by Josh Anderson

MONTRÉAL, QUÉBEC — When we talk about the future of data center design and engineering, it’s important to ask the right questions – if you want to get the right answer, that is. At CapRE’s Montréal and Québec Data Center Summit in early 2018, we welcomed a roster of leading Canadian data center to talk about the next innovations in data center design and engineering. But one savvy engineer paused to remind the gathering of an important consideration.

Bruce Edwards, President, CCG Facilities

“When thinking about innovations of data center design, the first question should be, what are the future business models that will require IT to perform certain functions?” pointed out Bruce Edwards, President of CCG Facilities. “And then, what kind of software delivers that functionality? And what kind of hardware supports that software?”

And only then, explained Edwards, can you get into designing the actual facility and the infrastructure, with the hardware within it. “So some of the things that you want to look at, in order to discern what the future innovations will be, are what are the business models that are out there on the market?” he continued.

For example, Edwards recalled how earlier in the day, a fellow panelist had mentioned artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, the internet of things as emerging technologies to look out for. “These are all functions that will fundamentally transform what we see in terms of the physicality of data center facilities,” he envisioned. “A lot of that is going to drive edge connectivity and that’s going to be a particular type of data center that will start to emerge.”

data center summit“And if we look at the issue globally, then the developing data center markets are going to require a completely different kind of data center than what we see in more developed, hyperscale, markets around the United States,” predicted Edwards knowingly. “And in general, a continued increase in power density and the attending [sic] cooling densities are going to affect whatever the design of data centers happens to be in the future.”

With that groundwork laid, Edwards provided some more specific predictions. “So if we translate some of that to large data centers, of which I have a great deal of experience, then we see two things,” he began. “One is more use of liquid media for cooling. There’s been lot of development and deployment of air cooled systems, utilizing outside air, certainly in the Northern climates, where it is much more attractive than in other climates, but we do believe that the density of cooling required is going to force a movement toward liquid cooling, at least for heat removal from the IT equipment itself. How it’s subjected to the outside is a different story.”

“And then if you were to generalize, I would say that systems characterized by large capacity central plant and backbone, and an inexpensive oversized distribution system lets us service changing terminal loads in a very cost-effective way,” he concluded. “So there are electrical system topologies and mechanical system topologies that fit that characterization, and I think that’s one of the things that you’ll see emerging in terms of deployments in the future.”

Check out previous CapRE Insider Reports covering this earlier segments of this panel discussion:

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