The Data Center Frontier Show

Data Center Frontier’s editors are your guide to how next-generation technologies are changing our world, and the critical role the data center industry plays in creating our extraordinary future.

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Episodes

2 days ago

For this episode of the Data Center Frontier Show Podcast, DCF Editor in Chief Matt Vincent sat down for a chat with  Christopher McLean, PE, ATD, LEED AP.
Specializing in the design, operations and construction of data centers, Chris is a Principal at Critical Facility Group in Boston. He previously held Director-level roles at a global engineering and construction corporation, a consulting engineering firm, as well as at a carrier hotel and colocation facility. 
Grounded in journeyman desktop support and hardware specification expertise, McLean's data center experience holistically encompasses all aspects of data center delivery, including elements of modular design and construction, design engineering, and facility operations. 
He is a frequent presenter at technical conferences, and contributor to industry publications.
We caught up with Chris shortly after his appearance presenting an AI facility design and construction case study on the seminar stage at Data Center World. 
Our conversation touched on  the challenges posed by high-density AI designs in data centers and the overall "state of liquid cooling" for AI. 
Additionally, the importance of a pragmatic approach in recycling IT assets and the adoption of new battery technologies was highlighted. 
An increasing interest in nuclear small modular reactors (SMRs) for meeting the power demands of data centers and the challenges of the AI era, and the potential economic and community impact of these technologies, was also discerned and discussed. 
Talk also ranged over such subjects as data center controls, building automation, electrical power monitoring systems, and building management systems to enhance total product delivery to data center operators.
Here's a timeline of the podcast's key moments:
2:31 - Discussion centers on the increasing interest and viability of nuclear energy, particularly SMRs, in meeting the rising power demands of data centers.
5:42 - Talk turns to the diversity of SMR designs, safety features, public perception challenges, and the potential positive economic impact and innovation these technologies could bring to the industry.
10:00 - DCF leans into Chris' insight as a design engineer, leading to a discussion on the challenges posed by high-density AI designs in data centers, the need for precise load information for effective design, and the necessity of creating flexible environments to accommodate rapidly evolving technology, while avoiding overshooting or undershooting design requirements.
15:32 - DCF solicits opinion on the state of liquid cooling for AI, as the discussion goes on to specifically compare and contrast direct to chip with immersion cooling technologies and methods.
16:02 - Further exploration of the deployment of immersion cooling technology in data centers, with McLean considering the hallmarks of the mechanical engineering team and CFD models being employed at Critical Facility Group in terms of evaluation and potential implementation.
21:59 - Discussion turns to data center BMS trends and insights on the evolution of fire protection in the industry, specifically focusing on the transition from MEP firms to specialty fire protection groups.
25:10 - Thoughts on a pragmatic approach to recycling and sustainability in data centers, focusing on repurposing IT assets, particularly in the context of the AI revolution and the importance of giving obsolete components a second life.
31:04 - Talk ranges from discussion about Single-Pair Ethernet technologies, power issues, renewable energy, battery backup, and the potential future trends in the data center industry.
33:03 - McLean elaborates on the relative adoption of battery technologies including lithium-ion, nickel-zinc, and the challenges faced in replacing valve regulated lead–acid (VRLA) batteries, emphasizing the need for education and innovation in the industry.
 

Tuesday May 07, 2024

The latest episode of the Data Center Frontier Show Podcast presents an Editors' Summit of sorts, as DCF's founder and Editor at Large Rich Miller drops by to join in the discussion with Editor in Chief Matt Vincent and Senior Editor David Chernicoff.
The editors discuss the challenges of power availability in leading data center markets and the concept of Gigawatt data Center campuses (as reflected by Rich's latest article) as a solution, focusing on renewable energy and innovative designs.
Microsoft's commitment to ten gigawatts of renewable energy, as well as the Infrastructure Masons recommendation of clean energy parks amounting to about the same, is mentioned, along with the challenges posed by climate change and the need for innovation in renewable energy. 
The pricing out of small data centers due to demand from hyperscalers is also discussed, as were the present, burgeoning prospects for nuclear energy to power the data center industry, including the absolutely accelerating nuclear SMR frontier, of which much was heard at Data Center World (Apr. 15-18) in Washington, DC.

Tuesday Apr 30, 2024

For this episode of the Data Center Frontier Show podcast, DCF's editors sat down with Udi Paret, Chief Business Officer of ZutaCore, and Alison Deane, ZutaCore's VP of Marketing, to discuss the company's impactful showing at the NVIDIA GTC [GPU Technology Conference] event this past March.
Held at the San Jose Convention Center in the heart of Silicon Valley, both ZutaCore executives were intensively on hand for the event.
A Busy GTC for Zutacore 
At GTC, ZutaCore showcased its direct-to-chip, waterless liquid cooling technology, and announced support for the NVIDIA H100 and H200 Tensor Core GPUs to help maximize data centers' AI performance while delivering sustainability benefits. 
"I wore them out," said Deane of her press scheduling at NVIDIA GTC for Paret and his counterpart at GTC, ZutaCore CEO, Erez Freibach.
Paret and Deane said that Zutacore drew significant interest at GTC for the breadth of the company's announcements surrounding its HyperCool platform, comprised of direct-to-chip, waterless two-phase liquid cooling technology.
ZutaCore's HyperCool dielectric cold plate liquid cooling system involves a direct-contact, self-regulated, pool-boiling based evaporator, enabling networking and simultaneously cooling all chips on-demand. 
Several leading server manufacturers are engaged with ZutaCore to complete the certification and testing on the NVIDIA  GPU platforms. Compact, easy to install, and capable of cooling up 1500-watt processors and above, the company notes the platform is also qualified by processor manufacturers Intel and AMD, and deployed in major server manufacturers including Dell, SuperMicro, ASUS, Pegatron.
Centrally during the GTC 2024 event, ZutaCore showcased its H100 and H200 waterless dielectric cold plates supporting densities up to 1500W in the booths of Boston Limited, Hyve Solutions, and Pegatron.
Comparative Cooling Challenges
During the podcast, Paret emphasized the advantages of ZutaCore's Hypercool technology, while addressing comparative challenges faced by single-phase water-based solutions. "The AI explosion is causing a market shift and positioning ZutaCore strategically," he said.
With the NVIDIA H100’s ability to speed up large language models by 30x over the previous technology generation, and the H200 being touted as the world’s most efficient GPU for supercharging AI and HPC workloads, it's safe to these are two of the highest performing chips ever designed (even leaving aside NVIDIA's much-balleyhooed Blackwell platform.) 
However, with each GPU consuming 700W of power, this will challenge data centers that are already struggling to control factors of heat, energy consumption and footprint. 
ZutaCore’s HyperCool direct-to-chip waterless two-phase liquid cooling technology was designed specifically to answer such demands, and has already been proven to cool processors of 1500W or more, and currently for 100 kW per rack of computing power. 
“Next-generation GPUs have unique cooling requirements that are most effectively solved by waterless, direct-to-chip liquid cooling technology for current GPU of 1500W while increasing rack-processing density by 300%,” said ZutaCore CEO Freibach, who is a co-founder of the company. 
“Not only do hyperscalers eliminate the risk and massive expense of water leakage in the server, but they can also scale their cooling needs with little to no modifications to current real estate, power, or cooling systems. This is a game changer for the future of AI and HPC.”
Meanwhile, the ZutaCore executives noted how the increasing need for sustainable AI solutions highlights the importance of sustainable practices in data centers. 
In the arena of such concerns, ZutaCore's partnership and white-label sales agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) dramatically addresses the pressing challenges faced by data centers today, including the enhancement of heat exhaust efficiency, promotion of energy conservation, and decarbonization.
Here's a timeline of key points on the podcast.
1:34 - Udi Paret, CBO of ZutaCore, reflects on the recent NVIDIA GTC event, highlighting the AI explosion and a major shift in design and consumption observed during GTC. Paret notes that CRN listed their company as one of the hottest at the event.
4:09 - Alison Deane, the company's VP of Marketing, discusses ZutaCore's success at GTC in being featured by partners like Boston Limited and Pegatron and showcasing its liquid cooling technology, w hich she says drew significant interest.
10:50 - Udi Paret elaborates on the advantages of the HyperCool technology, emphasizing the platform's elimination of water in servers, the implementation of phase change on the chip for future-proofing, and how this approach addresses challenges faced by single-phase water-based solutions in terms of scalability, sustainability, and performance.
19:01 - Data Center Frontier inquires about the competitiveness of two-phase dielectric direct-to-chip cooling compared to immersion cooling.
22:08 - Udi Paret explains the mechanics surrounding the dissipation of heat from the ZutaCore HyperCool system and emphasizes the platform's high-quality heat reuse capabilities.
26:08 - The discussion touches on ZutaCore partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' involvement in data centers, and reflects on the overall industry's growth.Deane and Paret recap more experiences from NVIDIA GTC, highlighting the buzz around AI in general and ZutaCore's innovative liquid cooling solutions in particular, leading to enabling net-zero goals.
28:47 - Udi Paret touches again on the market shift produced by the AI technology explosion, noting vertically integrated plays across various industries which aid in ZutaCore's strategic positioning.

Tuesday Apr 16, 2024

For this episode of the Data Center Frontier Show Podcast, DCF Editor in Chief Matt Vincent sits down for an instructive chat with Phillip Koblence, a strategic executive and ubiquitous thought leader in the data center and network space. 
Koblence co-founded NYI in 1996 and has successfully navigated through an ever-shifting infrastructure landscape, growing the company from a single data center in Lower Manhattan to a robust network with executional capabilities in key national and international markets. 
His leadership, focus on customer experience, and ability to cut through complexity and hype, has positioned NYI as an industry leader in high-touch infrastructure solutions. Koblence is also CEO of Critical Ventures, a consulting agency offering a range of services to help clients, owners and investors optimize the value of critical infrastructure assets.
Koblence sits on the DE-CIX North America Advisory Board as well as on the Board of OIX (formerly Open-IX). He is co-founder of the Nomad Futurist Foundation and podcast, designed to demystify the world of critical infrastructure and inspire younger generations to join the industry. 
The interview begins with a discussion of NYI's entry into 60 Hudson Street and the challenges of retrofitting legacy buildings for modern data center needs, while emphasizing the importance of connectivity and collaboration in the digital infrastructure industry, and highlighted the rapid pace of technological advancements such as AI.
Here's a timeline of the podcast's highlights:
2:03 - Koblence discusses NYI's entry into Manhattan's historic colocation and interconnection hub, 60 Hudson Street, emphasizing the importance of connectivity in New York City's digital infrastructure evolution.
6:20 - Koblence elaborates on the challenges and considerations when retrofitting legacy buildings like 60 Hudson for modern data center needs, highlighting the importance of creative solutions and understanding the nuances of different deployments.
11:38 - The discussion turns to an exploration of deploying data centers in skyscrapers, the evolving criticality of digital infrastructure, and the need for redundancy and a "data center mindset" in reckoning with society's reliance on connectivity.
20:02 - Remarks on the rapid pace of technological advancements, specifically the increasing densities of GPUs such as Nvidia's H100, H200, Grace Hopper, and Blackwell chips.
20:32 - More on the exponential increase in densities within the digital infrastructure community and predictions of a future "flattening out" of density growth.
23:59 - Koblence emphasizes the continued relevance of legacy facilities such as 2 megawatt (MW) or 5 MW data centers in modern deployments, particularly in major connectivity hubs. The concept of the edge is also discussed in the context of facilitating connectivity with AI sites.
26:59 - Koblence elaborates on the importance of collaboration and creating cohesive solutions across various data center facilities, while emphasizing the role of NYI as a solutions facilitator and discussing partnerships with Hudson IX and other providers.
31:22 -  Koblence elaborates on the mission of the Nomad Futurist foundation to demystify the world of digital infrastructure, highlighting the simplicity of the industry beneath the technical complexities, and emphasizing transparency and accessibility in making connectivity and digital infrastructure understandable and available.
 
Recent DCF Show Podcast Episodes: 
DCF Show: Data Center PR Practice Fosters Coalitions, Community Outreach to Reduce Development Backlash  
DCF Show: Data Center Construction and Dallas Market Talk with Burns & McDonnell 
DCF Show: The Top 5 Data Center Industry Stories of Q4 
DCF Show: Steve Madden, Equinix VP of Digital Transformation and Segmentation Marketing 
DCF Show: 8 Key Data Center Industry Themes for 2024, Part 3     

Tuesday Apr 02, 2024

As recorded on March 22, 2024, this episode of the Data Center Frontier Show Podcast featured the following participants: 
• Matt Vincent, Editor in Chief and Podcast Host, Data Center Frontier • Ali Heydari, Technical Director and Distinguished Engineer, NVIDIA • Marcus Hopwood, Product Management Director, Equinix • Bernie Malouin, CEO and Founder, JetCool  The podcast discussion begins with a focus on NVIDIA's latest insights, as imparted by Heydari, in the context of products, partnerships, and trend-leadership, as revealed at the recent NVIDIA GTC 2024 AI Conference (Mar. 18-21). 
The conversation opens up to look at broader implications and developments within the tech and data center industries, such as Equinix's plans to enable liquid cooling at more than 100 data centers globally, and facets of their latest partnership with NVIDIA, as characterized by Hopwood. 
The discussion turns to JetCool's history of providing innovative liquid cooling solutions for high-density chipsets, underlining the critical role of cooling technologies in support of the rapid growth of AI applications in data centers. 
The talk also explores ways of advancing efficiency and sustainability in high-powered clusters through warm coolants and heat reuse, considering energy efficiency directives in the EU and UK.
View a timeline of the podcast's highlights and read the full article about the podcast.

Tuesday Mar 19, 2024

For this episode of the DCF Show podcast, we interview Jason Carolan, Chief Innovation Officer at data center operator Flexential. He’s a 25-year expert in the enterprise IT industry, with experience leading companies through technological evolutions like the one we’re experiencing right now. 
Carolan believes there is a bigger story to uncover from the sheer dollar amount of Nvidia’s recent blockbuster valuation. In response to Nvidia’s market dominance in AI and data centers, Carolan wanted to discuss larger trends that may follow from this specific news moment. 
According to Carolan:  “Nvidia's earnings results and forecasts for a continued AI boom doesn't come as too much of a surprise with the volume of businesses that are increasingly testing and utilizing the technology.
Nvidia's data center business is a combination of GPU and their network technologies, which further showcases the importance of high performance architectures that can support next generation AI demands. The company is currently forecasted to ship 4-5 times more GPUs this coming year – indicating another trend line with little competition in sight. 
As inference matures, we will see more diversity in chip suppliers but that is a ways off. The bottom line is that, now with accelerating AI rollouts, companies will need more compute capacity, ultra-high bandwidth and very low latency in order to succeed.”

Tuesday Mar 05, 2024

This January, Milldam Public Relations announced the launch of its Data Center Community Relations Service, which the company's President and Founder Adam Waitkunas claims is the first community relations service exclusively serving the data center space and the digital infrastructure sector. 
In addition to tailormade communication strategies, Adam contends that data center community relations will require coalition building and garnering influence with local officials and stakeholders. He says the new service has been launched in response to the recent widespread backlash to data center development and the lack of tools to combat this within the data center industry. 
Personally overseeing the new service offering, Adam is a public relations professional with nearly twenty years of data center industry experience and a background in politics and public affairs, including extensive experience in media relations, marketing strategy, business development and strategic partnerships. 
Prior to founding Milldam Public Relations in 2005, Adam was the manager of Doug Stevenson's 14th Middlesex District State Representative campaign, which set a record for fundraising for a challenger in a Massachusetts State Representative race.
Concord, Massachusetts-based Milldam Public Relations is a full-service public relations firm that provides competitively priced strategic communications, media-relations and event management to a diverse array of clients throughout the country. 
The firm has solidified its position as the go-to public relations firm for companies in the critical infrastructure space. Clients from Boston to Los Angeles include: The Association of Information Technology Professionals-Los Angeles, OpTerra Energy Services, The Critical Facilities Summit, Hurricane Electric, Instor Solutions, Inc., and RF Code.
Under Adam's direction, Milldam has helped technology clients across the country secure articles in publications such as: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CFO Magazine, Data Center Knowledge, Green Tech Media, The Boston Business Journal, Mission Critical Magazine, The Silicon Valley Business Journal and Capacity Magazine, among others. 
Additionally, in his career Adam has helped businesses become thought leaders in their fields and a valued resource for industry-specific media, helping them to increase sales, promote awareness and become attractive targets for M&A. 
 
Data Center Community Relations Service
The new service is premised on the reality that, for many years, the data center industry has frequently operated under the radar, but has become more visible within the last few years. Certain communities throughout North America have taken notice and have started pushing back municipally against proposed developments, most notably in Virginia and Arizona. 
For example, in recent months, a number of Virginia environmental groups formed a coalition calling s for more oversight of the data center industry. And in January, King George County, Virginia officials voted to renegotiate a prior agreement for a large cloud provider's $6B Virginia data center campus.  The reversal is partly due to growing local political opposition to data center development.
With the launch of Milldam's Data Center Community Relations Service, Waitkunas contends that the digital infrastructure sector now has access to an offering that will equip them with the tools necessary to articulate the benefits of data centers to the local community while proactively addressing local concerns such as traffic infrastructure management and noise, helping to ensure a smoother path to success for the development. 
Critical infrastructure plays a predominant role in most people's daily lives throughout North America, driving the need for data center operators. Waitkunas points out that strong community engagement is essential for data centers to properly communicate their value and successfully navigate the complexity of community relations. 
To help data center developers achieve their goals, Milldam's community relations practice offers the following services: 
•    Establishing partnerships with third-party organizations such as Chambers of Commerce.•    Communicating the numerous benefits of data centers in the community, including economic development, infrastructure improvements, and job creation.•    Developing and providing key talking points.•    Ensuring that local decision-makers hear the client's messages.•    Implementing a wide variety of grassroots campaigns and community outreach. •    Enabling local supporters to serve as ambassadors and equipping them with the tools to communicate the benefits of proposed developments. •    Building coalitions.•    Garnering the pulse of public opinion.
"If the industry fails to properly engage with localities, years of industry progress will be in jeopardy," said Waitkunas. "It's imperative that developers and operators implement community relations to help ensure a seamless development process."
Here's a timeline of key discussion points on the podcast:
2:35 - Adam explains that the idea for the practice came from his background in public affairs and politics, and that it involves building coalitions and partnerships with third party organizations to help data centers overcome obstacles they face when moving into suburban areas.
4:41 - Adam discusses the importance of having individual community members form coalitions with data center developers to speak on their behalf and push issues forward.
8:09 - Adam reveals that the firm is currently working with two developers and has proposals out to other organizations since launching the practice in mid-January.
9:16 - On the importance of timing in getting ahead of community concerns and identifying cheerleaders for data center projects.
10:37 - The PR practice wants the local community to be the main cheerleader for data center projects and will help manage the coalition.
13:01 - Adam notes there is still a lot of community education needed on data centers regarding the ins and outs of countering noise and environmental concerns.
15:10 - Adam explains how the PR practice has been doing outreach to large players in the data center industry and tailoring campaigns for each community's concerns.
23:18 - On the necessity for developers to put together community relations plans and crisis communications plans for their data center projects.
Here are links to some related DCF articles:
The NIMBY Challenge: A Way Forward for the Data Center Industry
Rezoning for PW Digital Gateway Data Centers Approved By Virginia's Prince William County Supervisors
Keeping Your Cool While Getting Your Work Done
iMasons Sharpen Focus on the Community Impact of Data Centers
Being a Good Neighbor Means Considering Community Impact During Site Selection
Data Center Development Spurs More Debate in Prince William County

Tuesday Feb 20, 2024

For this episode of the DCF Show podcast, Data Center Frontier's Editor in Chief Matt Vincent and Senior Editor David Chernicoff speak with Burns & McDonnell's Robert Bonar, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, Mission Critical Facilities, and Christine Wood, Vice President leading the firm's Dallas-Fort Worth Global Facilities practice. 
Burns & McDonnell is a provider of engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions, who as part of its mission-critical and data center practice is brought in to help plan, design, permit, construct and manage client projects in the space. Bonar and Wood begin the podcast by providing an overview of the company and their roles there, along with their backgrounds in the industry. 
An overarching theme of the discussion is how a client's selection of a data center and mission critical consultant is based on more than just an ability to meet service needs. The discussion also covers current data center industry construction trends, especially in the areas of siting and power, while probing the similiarities and differences in planning data center builds for enterprise, colocation and hyperscale clients.
D-FW Data Center Market Focus
Cushman & Wakefield’s 2023 Dallas-Fort Worth Data Center Report stated that the Dallas-Fort Worth data center markets saw record absorption of 386 Megawatts in 2023 -- a nearly 7x increase since 2020 -- driven by exponential growth in demand for cloud computing and AI/machine learning applications. 
Cushman & Wakefield further reported the Dallas-Fort Worth market's vacancy to be at an all-time low of 3.73% last year, with colocation rents and data center land prices there continuing to rise. The commercial real estate services company added:
"Despite a robust construction pipeline – 1.4 million square feet that can provide 225 MW – the vast majority of the market’s new data center supply for 2024 and 2025 has been pre-leased. Cloud providers securing large campuses through pre-leasing and AI/ML companies leasing the market’s few remaining pockets of available space are the primary drivers of DFW’s record demand."
DCF asked Wood and Bonar about the D-FW data center market and Burns & McDonnell's role in it, including the firm's background and present developments there, as well as the location's future roadmap regarding power, interconnectivity, workforce factors.
Here's a time line of key discussion points on the podcast:
2:27 - After introductions and table-setting, the Burns & McDonnell experts emphasize the importance of looking at data center client needs holistically and getting ahead of what they need for a given project.
4:53 - Discussion turns to the impact of generative AI on the data center industry and the uptick in demand for first-of-a-kind designs.
8:44 - Further exploration of how the rapid pace of change in the data center industry has bred increased demand in the market for qualities such as speed-to-market and first-of-a-kind design.
9:22 - DCF inquires about planning for different types of data center builds, and the differences between enterprise, colocation, and hyperscale developments, as well as the impact of AI support, are explored.
14:34 - The discussion further illuminates challenges and changes in the data center industry, including the influence of AI technology on new designs and in future-proofing facilities.
15:04 - Burns & McDonell's Wood discusses the D-FW data center market, highlighting its growth potential due to its central location, low real estate costs, and robust power availability.
20:25 - To conclude, DCF's editors circle back to the topic of renewables and solar consulting in relation to data centers, leading to a discussion on combining solar with battery storage for future data center needs.
Here are links to some related DCF articles:
The Current State of Power Constraints for New Data Center Construction
Skybox Plans 300-Megawatt Campus South of Dallas
Building Greener: Compass Seeks Sustainability in its Construction, Supply Chain
Dallas Sees Record Data Center Leasing Activity in 2022
The Big City Edge: Dallas is a Hotbed for Edge Computing
Power Infrastructure and Tax Incentives Drive Dallas Data Center Market
 

Tuesday Feb 13, 2024

For this episode of the Data Center Frontier Show podcast, it's financial earnings call season, so Editor in Chief Matt Vincent and Senior Editor David Chernicoff take the opportunity to discuss DCF's top 5 most popular data center and cloud computing industry stories for the fourth quarter of 2023, which were as follows: 
1. Dominion: Virginia’s Data Center Cluster Could Double in Size
Dominion Energy says it has customer contracts that could double the amount of data center capacity in Virginia by 2028 and is planning new power lines to support this growth. Virginia is already the world’s largest market for cloud computing infrastructure. Despite the current power constraints around Ashburn, the data center market in Virginia is positioned to grow much larger. The utility says it has received customer orders that could double the amount of data center capacity in Virginia by 2028, with a projected market size of 10 gigawatts by 2035. That represents a huge increase from current data center power use, which reached 2.67 gigawatts in 2022. The utility’s projections mean that Virginia will continue to experience tensions between the growth of the Internet and the infrastructure to support it. Data Center Frontier's Founder and Editor at Large, Rich Miller, reports.
2. Microsoft Unveils Custom-Designed Data Center AI Chips, Racks and Liquid Cooling
At Microsoft Ignite last November, the company unveiled two custom-designed chips and integrated systems resulting from a multi-step process for meticulously testing its homegrown silicon, the fruits of a method the company's engineers have been refining in secret for years, as revealed at its Source blog. The end goal is an Azure hardware system that offers maximum flexibility and can also be optimized for power, performance, sustainability or cost, said Rani Borkar, corporate vice president for Azure Hardware Systems and Infrastructure (AHSI). “Software is our core strength, but frankly, we are a systems company. At Microsoft we are co-designing and optimizing hardware and software together so that one plus one is greater than two,” Borkar said. “We have visibility into the entire stack, and silicon is just one of the ingredients.” The newly introduced Microsoft Azure Maia AI Accelerator chip is optimized for artificial intelligence (AI) tasks and generative AI. For its part, the Microsoft Azure Cobalt CPU is an Arm-based processor chip tailored to run general purpose compute workloads on the Microsoft Cloud. Microsoft said the new chips will begin to appear by early this year in its data centers, initially powering services such as Microsoft Copilot, an AI assistant, and its Azure OpenAI Service. They will join a widening range of products from the company's industry partners geared toward customers eager to take advantage of the latest cloud and AI technology breakthroughs.
3. The Eight Trends That Will Shape the Data Center Industry in 2023
Rich Miller predicted that 2023 would be a year of dueling cross currents that could constrain or accelerate business activity in the sector. DCF's Vincent and Chernicoff briefly review last year's trends, remarking on how so many of them are still in full effect for the industry right now.
Scorecard: Looking Back at Data Center Frontier’s 2023 Industry Predictions
4.  Google Is Now Reducing Data Center Energy Use During Local Power Emergencies
Last October, Google shared details of a system optimized to reduce the energy use of data centers when there is a local power emergency. Core functions of the system, which has the hallmarks of a universally applicable technology, include postponing low-priority workloads, and moving others to other regions that are less constrained. Regarding the system, Michael Terrell, Google's Senior Director for Energy and Climate, explained in a LinkedIn post how the new demand response capability can temporarily reduce power consumption from Google data centers when it’s needed, and provide flexibility to the local grids that power its data center operations. Demand response helps grid operators serve their customers reliably during times of need, such as in times of supply constraints or extreme weather events. Terrell's post empasized that "demand response can be a big tool to help grids run more cost-effectively and efficiently, and it can accelerate system-wide grid decarbonization." Google’s Climate and Energy teams created the new system, which Terrell called an important development toward running the company's data centers "intelligently, efficiently and carbon-free."
5. Cloudflare Outage: There’s Plenty Of Blame To Go Around
The Cloudflare outage in the first week of November drew quite a bit of attention, not only because Cloudflare’s services are extremely popular, so their failure was quickly noticed, but also because of the rapid explanation of the problem posted in the Cloudflare Blog shortly after the incident. This explanation placed a significant portion of the blame squarely on Flexential and their response to the issues with electricity provider PGE, and potential issues that PGE was having. Cloudflare was able to restore most of its services in 8 hours at its disaster recovery facility. It runs its primary services at three data centers in the Hillsboro, Oregon area, geolocated in such a way that natural disasters are unlikely to impact more than a single data center. DCF's David Chernicoff noted, "While almost all of the coverage of this incident starts off by focusing on the problems that might have been caused by Flexential, I find that I have to agree with the assessment of Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince: To start, this never should have happened.”
Here are links to some related DCF articles:
DCF Show: Data Center Frontier's Rich Miller Returns For a Visit
DCF Tours: Flexential Dallas-Plano Data Center, 18 MW Colocation Facility
Meta Previews New Data Center Design for an AI-Powered Future
For Leading Cloud Platforms, AI Presents a Major Opportunity
AI Propels Cloud Growth, Digital Infrastructure Investment to New Heights
 

Tuesday Jan 30, 2024

Even in a month where Equinix very notably rolled out its fully managed private cloud service for enabling enterprises to easily acquire and manage their own NVIDIA DGX AI supercomputing infrastructure, the better to build and run custom generative AI models, there was yet another, not unrelated, announcement from the foundational provider of colocation data centers and digital transformation solutions. 
It was in the context of the AI platform rollout with NVIDIA that Equinix this month also issued its annual Global Interconnection Index (GXI) 2024 Report, which uncovers digital infrastructure trends driving the decision-making of both enterprises and service providers. 
The Equinix statement announcing managed services for the NVIDIA DGX AI supercomputing platform noted that the service includes the NVIDIA DGX systems, NVIDIA networking and the NVIDIA AI Enterprise software platform. For the platform offering, Equinix installs and operates each customer's privately owned NVIDIA infrastructure and can deploy services on their behalf in key locations of its International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers globally. 
Equinix also emphasized that its NVIDIA DGX service offers high-speed private network access to global network service providers, enabling quick generative AI information retrieval across corporate wide area networks. In addition, the service provides private, high-bandwidth interconnections to cloud services and enterprise service providers to facilitate AI workloads while meeting data security and compliance requirements.
Through its offering of NVIDIA DGX AI supercomputing infrastructure services, Equinix contends that enterprises can scale their infrastructure operations to achieve the level of AI performance needed to develop and run massive models. The company also revealed that early access companies using the service has included leaders in sectors including biopharma, financial services, software, automotive and retail, many of whom are building AI Centers of Excellence to provide a strategic foundation for a broad range of rapidly developing LLM use cases.
As a related study Equinix commissions each year, the operator's GXI Report comprises a survey of global IT leaders to gather insight on what’s behind the digital economy. Based on the study's latest findings, Equinix stated its belief that the industry has hit a tipping point in resourcing decisions, vis a vis the notion that buying dedicated IT hardware now puts customers at a competitive disadvantage. 
For this episode of the DCF Show podcast, Data Center Frontier editors Matt Vincent and David Chernicoff met with Steve Madden, Equinix VP of Digital Transformation and Segment Marketing, to discuss some of the GXI 2024 report's more meaningful findings related to current data center trends and predictions in digital transformation, IT and spending, including the operator's nearly concurrent AI managed services offering.
For instance, the GXI report found that enterprises are growing at a 39% CAGR -- 25% faster than service providers -- reaching 12,908 Tbps of total capacity. DCF asked Madden: Since the global pandemic, how much have enterprises leaned on digital providers to focus on responding to business needs, and does Equinix expect such trends to continue going forward? Also, the GXI report found that 80% of enterprises will design and run new digital IT infrastructure using subscription-based services by 2026. We asked Madden: What does that mean for data centers? The report also found that by 2025, 85% of global companies will have expanded multicloud access across several regions. We asked: How will data centers best be able to manage such demand? 
In his remarks, Madden pointed out that Equinix has the most cloud on-ramps of any data center operator in the world, and predicted that the majority of multinational enterprises will be multi-cloud connected in multiple regions around the world in the near future. Madden noted that nowadays -- i.e. in the post-pandemic age of AI -- enterprises are looking for strategic partners, not just vendors, in composing their infrastructure, and seek to do so with a set of key providers to help them move more quickly in their digital transformations.

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