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What Will the Next Innovation Be in Data Center Infrastructure?

Apr 5, 2018
by Josh Anderson

MONTRÉAL, QUÉBEC – The data center game is always changing, in large part thanks to technology. Whether you’re keeping an eye on the latest trends of today or tomorrow, it’s vital to stay sharp. So at CAPRE’s Second Annual Greater Montréal & Québec Data Centre Summit, we asked Dave Sterlace, Head of Data Center Technology for ABB, what he thought the next innovation in physical infrastructure would be, and how it would impact tomorrow’s data center.

“If we look far enough out, there is certainly a lot of R&D that our company is doing around using more powerful electronics. So, if we could get to a point where, basically, in an always-on environment like a data center, you’re switching 15-kb now, as they get bigger and bigger, we’re seeing literally transmission-level voltages coming in,” said Sterlace, emphasizing that this is typical of the technological advancements he has seen.

“If we could get to the point where you have solid-state switching, no moving parts, and a lot of the power equipment, that would really transform a lot of things,” he mused. “So that’s some of the things that we’re looking at longer-term. In the meantime, we’re seeing more emphasis on PUE.

According to Sterlace, if you upgrade your IT kit, with more efficiency, but the same amount, your PUE actually goes up. “So it gives you the additional capacity, and if you take advantage of it, then you can become more efficient with it,” he explained. ‘But the PUE is kind of a misunderstood metric. It’s almost like swimming, where you’re timing yourself really against yourself. That’s who you’re measuring against”

“But as soon as we released it, everyone’s saying, Oh well, mine’s 1.00003! and Mine’s 1 and two frog hairs, and everything else!” he said, with a chuckle. “But I think we’ll see real energy efficiency coming. We talked earlier about how here in Québec, there are great opportunities with the green power that’s available here.”

David Sterlace, Head of Data Center Technology, ABB

“Google, at the end of 2015, I believe was already at one hundred percent renewable energy,” recalled Sterlace. “Technically, hydro-electric doesn’t really count as renewable under their very strict rules. But certainly, green power is going to be more and more of a sweet-spot. We’re going to see more data center involved in energy trading and arbitrage and things like that. The true micro-grid stuff is really just coming around now and just starting to get a lot of attention.”

And finally, Sterlace pointed to the multitude of devices at our fingertips. “We all know that there are going to be more and more things plugged in and we’re going to have so many devices,” he said. “The question is going to be, how do you deal with the data in an open, easy-to-manipulate way? How do you keep it secure? And how do you connect? There’s going to be a gap between the Edge and the actual, big analytics engines. So how is that going to work too? The interconnect is going to become even more important.”

data center summitCheck out previous CAPRE Insider Reports covering this discussion:

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