Defining Your Edge – Re-Thinking the Concept of Micro Data Center Designs

Defining Your Edge – Re-Thinking the Concept of Micro Data Center Designs

By Sam Prudhomme, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Subzero Engineering

For many years the industry has been in a deep discussion about the concept of edge computing. Yet the definition varies from vendor to vendor, creating confusion in the market, especially where end-users are concerned. In fact, within more traditional or conservative sectors, some customers are yet to truly understand how the edge relates to them, meaning the discussion needs to change, and fast.

According to Gartner, “the edge is the physical location where things and people connect with the networked, digital world, and by 2022, more than 50% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside the data center or cloud.” All of this data invariably needs a home, and depending on the type of data that is secured, whether it’s business or mission-critical, the design and location of its home will vary.

Autonomous vehicles are but one example of an automated, low- latency and data-dependent application. The real-time control data required to operate the vehicle is created, processed and stored via two-way communications at a number of local and roadside levels. On a city-wide basis, the data produced by each autonomous vehicle will be processed, analyzed, stored and transmitted in real-time, in order to safely direct the vehicle and manage the traffic. Yet on a national level, the data produced by millions of AVs could be used to shape transport infrastructure policy and redefine the automotive landscape globally.

Each of these processing, analysis, and storage locations requires a different type of facility to support its demand. Right now, data centers designed to meet the needs of standard or enterprise business applications are plentiful. However, data centers designed for dynamic, real-time data delivery, provisioning, processing, and storage are in short supply.

That’s partly because of the uncertainty over which applications will demand such infrastructure and, importantly, over what sort of timeframe. However, there’s also the question of flexibility. Many of the existing micro data center solutions are unable to meet the demands of edge or, more accurately, localized, low-latency applications, which also require high levels of agility and scalability. This is due to their pre-determined or specified approach to design and infrastructure components.

Traditionally, the market has been met with small-scale, edge applications, which have been deployed in pre-populated, containerized solutions. A customer is often required to confirm to a standard shape or size and there’s no flexibility in terms of their modularity, components, or make-up. So how do we change the thinking?

A Flexible Edge

Standardization has, in many respects, been crucial to our industry. It offers a number of key benefits, including the ability to replicate systems predictably across multiple locations. But when it comes to the edge, some standardized systems aren’t built for the customer – they’re a product of vendor collaboration: One that’s also accompanied by high-costs and long lead times.

On the one hand, having a box with everything in it can undoubtedly solve some pain points, especially where integration is concerned. But what happens if the customer has its own alliances, or may not need all of the components? What happens if they run out of capacity in one site? Those original promises of scalability, or flexibility disappear, leaving the customer with just one option – to buy another container. One might consider that that rigidity, when it comes to ‘standardization’, can often be detrimental to the customer.

There is, however, the possibility that such modular, customizable, and scalable micro data center architectures can meet the end user’s requirements perfectly, allowing end-users to truly define and embrace their edge.

Is There a Simpler Way?

Today forecasting growth is a key challenge for customers. With demands increasing to support a rapidly developing digital landscape, many will have a reasonable idea of what capacity is required today. But predicting how it will grow over time is far more difficult, and this is where modularity is key.

For example, pre-pandemic, a content delivery network, with capacity located near large users groups may have found itself swamped with demand in the days of lockdown. Today, they may be considering how to scale up local data center capacity quickly and incrementally to meet customer expectations, without deploying additional infrastructure across more sites.

There is also the potential of 5G-enabled applications, so how does one define what’s truly needed to optimize and protect the infrastructure in a manufacturing environment. Should an end-user purchase a containerized micro data center because that’s what’s positioned as the ideal solution? Or, should they customize and engineer a solution that can grow incrementally with demands? Or would it be more beneficial to deploy a single room that offers a secure, high-strength, and walk-able roof that can host production equipment?

The point here is that when it comes to micro data centers, a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. End-users need the ability to choose their infrastructure based on their business demands – whether they be in industrial manufacturing, automotive, telco, or colocation environments. But how can users achieve this?

Infrastructure Agnostic Architectures

At Subzero Engineering, we believe that vendor-agnostic, flexible micro data centers are the future for the industry. For years we’ve been adding value to customers, and building containment systems around their needs, without forcing their infrastructure to fit into boxes.

We believe users should have the flexibility to utilize their choice of best-in-class data center components, including the IT stack, the uninterruptible power supply (UPS), cooling architecture, racks, cabling, or fire suppression system. So by taking an infrastructure-agnostic approach, we give customers the ability to define their edge, and use resilient, standardized, and scalable infrastructure in a way that’s truly beneficial to their business.

By taking this approach, we’re also able to meet demands for speed to market, delivering a fully customized solution to site within six weeks. Furthermore, by adopting a modular architecture that includes a stick-built enclosure, and the ability to incorporate a cleanroom, and a walk-able, mezzanine roof, users can scale as demands require it, and without the need to deploy additional containerized systems.

This approach alone offers significant benefits, including a 20-30% cost-saving, compared with conventional ‘pre-integrated’, micro data center designs.

For too long now, our industry has been shaped by vendors that have forced customers to base decisions on systems which are constrained by the solutions they offer. We believe now is the time to disrupt the market, eliminate this misalignment, and enable customers to define their edge as they go.

By providing customers with the physical data center infrastructure they need, no matter their requirements, we can help them plan for tomorrow. As I said, standardization can offer many benefits, but not when it’s detrimental to the customer.

 

Click here to download a pdf version of this article.

AisleFrameCold Aisle Containmentdata centerData Center ContainmentData Center Infrastructure Managementedgeedge data centerEssential Micro Data CenterHot Aisle ContainmentInfrastructure Conveyancemicro data center
Subzero Engineering Launches ‘Essential Micro Data Center’, Allowing Users to Define Their Own Edge

Subzero Engineering Launches ‘Essential Micro Data Center’, Allowing Users to Define Their Own Edge

  • Turnkey solution is building and infrastructure agnostic, providing 20%-30% cost-savings compared to other solutions in the market.
  • Standardized solution meets demanding timescales, shipping within as little as 36 hours, while fully customized micro data centers can be delivered, installed and operational in 4-6 weeks.
  • Provides flexible micro data center system for colocation, 5G, retail, enterprise and industrial applications.

 

October 13, 2021Subzero Engineering, a leading provider of data center containment solutions, has today introduced its Essential Micro Data Center, the world’s first modular, vendor agnostic and truly flexible modular micro data center architecture. Available for order in the United States of America, United Kingdom and Europe, the Essential Micro Data Center meets customer demands for a standardized, premium quality, cost-competitive and quick-to-install edge infrastructure system, that provides a reduced total cost of ownership of between 20%-30%.

Based on its Essential Series and AisleFrame product lines, the Essential Micro Data Center is a small-footprint, on-premises data center, engineered for distributed and remote infrastructure environments. Its modular architecture includes white-glove installation and support, power, cooling, infrastructure conveyance and containment. All of which are housed within a pre-fabricated, factory-assembled, modular room, and shipped flat-packed to site.

With increased requirements for real-time data processing, low latency, greater security and automation, the Essential Micro Data Center ensures predictability and performance for distributed applications. Furthermore, its customizable, modular design offers a fast, flexible and easy-to-build micro data center system, perfectly suited for colocation, 5G, retail, enterprise and industrial environments.

 

Strength, security, customization

The Essential Micro Data Center is comprised of two-parts including a physically secure, modular room containing critical power and cooling infrastructure, and Subzero’s high-strength AisleFrame. Using this approach, the Essential Micro Data Center can support a variety of load requirements and includes built-in, customizable containment, integrated with self-supporting ceiling modules and insert panels available in ABS, acrylic, polycarbonate, aluminum or glass.

The pre-fabricated system can accommodate all ladder racking, busway, fiber trays and infrastructure necessary for micro data center applications, and offers support for hot or cold aisle applications, regardless of cooling methodology. For example, the high-strength ceiling can support a range of cooling systems, including overhead Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units. This feature offers complete customization for users who can deploy their infrastructure in aisle, row or rack configurations.

Further, its flexible, vendor-agnostic design provides users with the ability to custom-specify their own choice of power and cooling infrastructure. This approach helps overcome the challenge of having to use inflexible, pre-specified power and cooling systems in a containerized system, while retaining the ability to standardize, repeat and scale quickly, as business requirements change.

“The Essential Micro Data Center’s flexible design makes it a perfect fit for customers searching for an alternative to the obstinate and expensive, pre-integrated solutions currently available,” said Sam Prudhomme, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Subzero Engineering. “Our vendor-agnostic approach to component specification, combined with rapid speed of and installation and lower TCO, ensures customers can truly define and scale the edge on their own terms.”

The Subzero Engineering Essential Micro Data Center joins its recently launched Essentials Series, demonstrating the company’s commitment to delivering customer-focused, efficient and precision-engineered digital infrastructure solutions.

To learn more, click here.

AisleFrameCold Aisle ContainmentData Center ContainmentData Center Infrastructure Managementedgeedge data centerEssential Micro Data CenterHot Aisle ContainmentInfrastructure Conveyancemicro data center
Containment at the Edge – Making the Edge Efficient, Scalable, and Sustainable

Containment at the Edge – Making the Edge Efficient, Scalable, and Sustainable

Each day, technology touches nearly every aspect of our lives in one way or the other. For example, how many times a day do each of us access one or more apps on our smart phone? This trend of needing, creating, transferring, and accessing data in fractions of a second isn’t going away either. According to Gartner Research, by 2020, internet capable devices worldwide reached over 20 billion, and this number is expected to double by 2025. It is also estimated that approximately 463 exabytes of data (1 exabyte is equivalent to 1 billion gigabytes) will be generated each day by people as of 2025, that’s the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs per day!1 Along with this increase comes the need to have this data as fast as possible, with minimum delay or latency, something most of today’s data centers are not capable of.

The increase in data and the need for high-speed data transfers has inspired the recent trend known as edge computing. What exactly is the edge? What is an edge data center? How are edge data centers evolving and how can facility and data center managers be ready without being left behind? What about the challenge of making a resilient, modular, and scalable edge data center while maintaining high efficiency and reliability? This paper will answer these and many more questions about the edge in the following topics:

  • What is an Edge Data Center
  • The Evolution of Edge Computing
  • How Organizations are Responding to Edge Data Centers
  • Solving the Challenge of Modular and Scalable Edge Infrastructures
  • Reliability and Efficiency Needed at the Edge
  • Containment’s Critical Role in Edge Deployments
  • Bridging the Gap to the Edge, Now and Future

Read the full white paper here.

ContainmentData Center Containmentdata center efficiencyedgeedge computingedge data centerefficientinfrastructuremicro data centerscalablesustainable
5 Steps to Improving Data Center Performance & Energy Efficiency

5 Steps to Improving Data Center Performance & Energy Efficiency

By Sam Prudhomme, Vice President of Sales & Marketing

Recently, I was interviewed by a Computer Weekly journalist, Fleur Doidge, who was writing an article focusing on the quick wins when it comes to improving systems performance in the data center. Inspired by our discussion, I’ve come up with Subzero’s top 5 ways to boost data center utilization.

The data center industry, quite rightly, has an ongoing, major focus on how it can improve both the performance and energy efficiency of its facilities. That’s partly down to the perception that our industry are major consumers of energy and contribute a high volume of carbon emissions each year.

According to an article published in Science Magazine, data centers account for around 1% of global energy use. It’s clear that we need to improve our environmental performance and to ensure we never forget we’re part of the sustainability solution, but we should also remember that data center performance and energy efficiency improvements make great business sense.

While there are many, many issues to consider as part of a comprehensive, long-term strategy to both improve data center performance as well as to achieve carbon neutral status, this article focuses on the ‘low hanging fruit’ – relatively simple actions, which will have an immediate positive impact on your facility, and with an ROI measured in months rather than years.

Step 1 – As Easy as (free) CFD

Those of you who know Subzero Engineering well will not be surprised that Step 1 involves a Environmental Impact Evaluation (CFD) of your data center. We believe it all starts with the data and offer this service for free. It is a simple, efficient, and super-fast way of discovering just how your data center is performing right now – where the power is, where the heat is, and isn’t, hence where the cold air does or doesn’t need to be.

Step 2 – Using the Data

Once the Environmental Impact Evaluation (CFD) has been carried out, you’ll be armed with a large quantity of data about how your data center is performing. It’s highly likely that you’ll be presented with some really quick wins. For example, you’ll discover where the hotspots (points of efficiency leakage) are; and part of the solution may be something as simple as installing any necessary blanking panels.

Then again, the CFD data may highlight that Row 5 in Rack 6 is running 15 degrees hotter than anywhere else in the data center. You’ll be able to decide whether you need to move this stack to a better location where more cooling is available, or maybe you just need to open up the grate to optimize or increase the airflow.

Step 3 – The 3 ms: Measuring, monitoring & Modulation

A data center is a live environment. So, although the CFD analysis can identify and help to resolve what we might call any ‘permanent’ power and cooling issues, it’s essential that you monitor and measure the performance of the power and cooling plant in real-time. This is because data center variables such as the IT load and operating temperatures are in constant flux. With the right system you are able to modulate the airflow accordingly. For example, if the cooling needs to react to the load inside each rack and cabinet, as well as respond to the impact of, say, an extremely hot outside temperature.

Rather than blast a load of cold air into the data center and ‘hope’ that it keeps the IT hardware within operating tolerances, with the right monitoring solution, you can be confident that you can modulate the cold air as required right down to the rack level. This ensures that the cooling usage is as effective and energy efficient as possible.

Step 4 – Contain Your Excitement

How would you like to reduce your PUE by 0.4? Or to achieve a 29% reduction in data center energy consumption? Well, these are the average savings we achieve for our customers when they deploy one of our containment solutions.

The initial Environmental Impact Evaluation (CFD) we carry out also proves how this can be achieved – it compares and contrasts hot vs cold aisle containment and containment vs no containment. Furthermore, a containment solution ensures that Steps 1-3 really do achieve the maximum performance and energy efficiency improvements within the data center.

Without containment, you’ll still have hotspots – separating hot and cold air will be hit and miss and far from being optimized.

With containment, you can bring down the power consumption to cooling ratio close to a 1:1 match in KW consumed – that’s how the energy consumption/utility bill reduction is achieved.

As for the PUE reduction? Well, that’s achieved by smarter, more efficient use of an optimized combination of chilled water and the air conditioning fans. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that containment can reduce fan energy consumption by up to 25% and deliver 20% savings at the cold water chiller.1

One final containment benefit – we supplied a containment solution to a colo customer and by separating the hot and cold air in their facility, we helped them to not only eliminate hotspots, but also to increase rack density by an average of 14%.

Step 5 – Turn the Lights out

This breadth of knowledge brings me to my final data center performance and energy efficiency improvement: turn out the lights. By that, I actually mean remove anything incandescent and go with an LED retrofit kit within your existing tray system. And then automate the lighting system.

It may be a while before a true lights out data center becomes the norm, if ever, but that’s no excuse not to ensure that your lighting system is as energy efficient as possible. By using LEDs and only using the lights when needed you’ll improve your energy efficiency as well as your bank balance.

While Subzero Engineering’s major focus is data center consultancy, using CFD analysis and containment solutions, to help drive performance and efficiency improvements we can also help owners/operators with their critical power infrastructure, DCIM and other solutions as required.

Download the 5 Steps to Improving Data Center Performance & Energy Efficiency pdf here.

 

References

1Recalibrating global data center energy-use estimates – Science Magazine 2018

CFDContainmentdata centerdata center energy consumptiondata center performanceEnergy EfficiencyEnvironmental Impact EvaluationPUErack densitysustainability
Subzero Engineering and Armstrong World Industries partner to serve U.S. data center market

Subzero Engineering and Armstrong World Industries partner to serve U.S. data center market

  • This partnership is the latest development in the portfolio expansion of data center products and services from Armstrong and Subzero Engineering
  • The Armstrong DynaMax™ structural ceiling solution combines seamlessly with Subzero Engineering’s high-performance and energy efficient, Essential Series and Essential Plus+ (formerly Elite Series) containment systems
  • Subzero will exclusively utilize the Armstrong DynaMax™ structural ceiling solution to complement Subzero Engineering’s high-performance and energy efficient data center containment systems
  • The partnership enables Subzero Engineering to deliver a secure, turnkey solution, combining Armstrong ceiling systems with containment for rapid installation and reduced cost

 

San Antonio, TX June 14, 2021 – Subzero Engineering, a leading provider of data center containment solutions, and Armstrong World Industries (AWI), a leader in the design and manufacture of innovative commercial and residential ceiling, wall, and suspension solutions, have announced a strategic relationship for the Americas markets.  Subzero Engineering and AWI have come together to create a combined containment and structural ceiling solution for data centers that is high-strength, flexible, and quick-to-install.  Further, this secure, turnkey solution offers cost savings and reduced time-to-market and eliminates construction inefficiencies.

The Armstrong DynaMax™ ceiling solution is an aluminum suspension system that serves as a structural and conveyance component in data centers. It provides a suspension plenum or attachment platform for cable trays, equipment, partitions, and hot and cold aisle containment barriers, while eliminating penetrations in the ceiling system. Available in 2′ x 2′, 2′ x 4′, and 4′ x 4′ suspension system layouts with coordinated ceiling options, the DynaMax™ suspension system can support up to a 900 lb. point load rating using 3/8″ threaded rods at 4′ x 4′ connection points.

Subzero Engineering will seamlessly combine the DynaMax™ structural system with its Essential Series and Essential Plus+ product lines, offering hyperscale, colocation, and enterprise data center operators a standardized, vendor-neutral and flexible containment solution with a fully accessible ceiling system. The new collaboration enables Subzero to incorporate the Armstrong DynaMax™ system into their US data center market offerings and allows Subzero to provide any combination of non-structural and structural ceiling components for data centers, including an ultra-secure containment barrier to protect servers from debris.

“Subzero Engineering equals our own passion for innovation and their expertise in the data center market is a great match for us,” said Charlie Chiappone, Senior Vice President, Ceiling and Wall Solutions, Armstrong World Industries. “The Subzero Essential Series and Essential Plus+ products combined with our DynaMax™ ceiling solution offers a seamless approach to infrastructure provision at a time when cost optimization, performance, and efficiency are key objectives for data center owners and operators alike.”

“A company with Armstrong’s status in the commercial construction industry is the perfect organization for Subzero to partner with, enabling us to meet customer demands for turnkey solutions that combine customer needs with cost efficiency,” said Sam Prudhomme, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Mission Critical Environments Division, Subzero Engineering. “This strategic relationship will enable Subzero Engineering to quickly deliver a robust, structural conveyance system that includes high-quality containment, ensuring a customer-first approach to data center design and optimization.”

Rapidly expanding solution portfolio

Incorporating the Armstrong DynaMax™ structural ceiling system into the latest offerings from Subzero Engineering, including the recently introduced Essential Series, creates a comprehensive portfolio of data center infrastructure solutions, engineering consultancy, and modernization services, delivering industry-leading technology designed to address major customer challenges.

“Subzero Engineering has established a market-leading reputation for consultancy and innovative products, at a time when traditional approaches are unable to meet the demands of the digital age,” added Sam Prudhomme. “From the launch of our Essential Series and partnering with Armstrong to incorporate the DynaMax™ ceiling system into our products, we are directly addressing market needs, and will continue to do so with new partnerships, products, and services over the coming months.”

==Ends==

 

About Subzero Engineering

At Subzero Engineering we believe that a data-driven approach to data center design, build, and operation is essential to drive performance and efficiency. To help customers achieve this, we provide customized, streamlined, and energy efficient containment solutions that result in a lower total cost of ownership, and reduced carbon emissions.

https://www.subzeroeng.com

 

About Armstrong World Industries

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. (AWI) is a leader in the design and manufacture of innovative commercial and residential ceiling, wall, and suspension system solutions in the Americas.  With $937 million in revenue in 2020, AWI has about 2,800 employees and a manufacturing network of 15 facilities plus six facilities dedicated to its WAVE joint venture.

https://www.armstrongceilings.com/commercial/en/

 

Download the press release – here.

 

AisleFrameContainmentcontainment solutiondata centerefficiencyEssential Plus+essential seriesEssential Structureperformancereduced containment costs
Subzero Engineering Announces New Essential Series Data Center Containment Solutions, Designed for Increased Functionality and Speed of Deployment

Subzero Engineering Announces New Essential Series Data Center Containment Solutions, Designed for Increased Functionality and Speed of Deployment

  • Essential Series provides adaptable, quick-to-deploy and cost-effective data center containment for hyperscale, supercomputing and enterprise facilities.
  • The vendor-neutral products have been engineered to enable data center design flexibility, with ease of customization and ordering.
  • Offers the high quality design synonymous with the Subzero Engineering brand, at a more accessible price point.

Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, 23rd  March, 2021Subzero Engineering, a leading provider of data center containment solutions, has today announced that it has launched its Essential Series product line; offering hyperscale, colocation, high performance computing (HPC) and enterprise data center operators a vendor-neutral, quick-to-deploy and flexible containment system, at an accessible price point. Available globally, in three scalable form factors, the Essential Line, Essential+ and AisleFrame solutions provide end-users with a standardized containment architecture, which can accommodate any rack, server or storage requirement.

By utilizing a flexible, standards-based approach to design and installation, the Essential Series helps operators to quickly scale or retrofit their facility with a solution that drives both performance and energy efficiency. Further, by utilizing Subzero hot or cold aisle containment systems, data center customers can reduce PUE by 0.4 on average and save approximately 29% on energy costs.

“The Essential Series was born from fifteen years of data center design and engineering experience, and a strong track record for helping customers improve performance and PUE,” said Sam Prudhomme Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “With growing demands for a flexible, low-cost and high-quality data center containment line, the Essential Series offers the perfect mix of blue collar functionality and innovation, wrapped in world-class customer service.”

 

The foundations of performance and efficiency
Subzero Engineering Essential Series products are engineered to be ultra-efficient, quick to deploy, and offer reduced containment costs of up to 30%. The Essential Series uses high quality materials with standardized sizes to minimize lead times, allowing customers to meet demanding timescales with a reliable solution. Subzero have also taken the guesswork out of choosing a containment solution, with the Essential Series customers simply select the type of door (hinged or sliding, dual or single), the size of the roof or length of the aisle, and add how many racks or panels are needed.

 

Essential Plus+
The Essential Plus+ system allows data center customers to quickly upgrade their containment products and design experience. Available upgrades include pre-engineered customizations, upgraded materials, increased functionality, white glove on-site support, and an extended lifetime warranty.

 

AisleFrame – The Essential Structure
The Essential Structure is a highly adaptable infrastructure conveyance system, facilitating advanced scalability in middle infrastructure construction. There are endless design, configuration and functionality possibilities with Essential+ Upgrades. Not only is the engineering behind the Essential Structure simple, efficient, and straight forward, so is the pricing structure. Essential Structure pricing is determined by identifying four simple project requirements: frame type (normal or seismic), load requirements (regular, medium, high), rack sizing (5, 10, 15, or 20 racks), and Essential Plus+ upgrades.

“With its lower price point and design flexibility, Subzero is able to offer fifteen years of engineering experience and energy efficient data center solutions to a broader marketplace,” said Andy Connor, Channel Director, EMEA. “And with manufacturing facilities in the USA and Europe, the company is perfectly positioned to offer high-quality systems with a reduced lead time, helping customers to quickly overcome supply chain issues and reduce their total cost of ownership.”

The Subzero Engineering Essential Series is available globally via our channel partners.

Download the press release – here.

 

AisleFrameContainmentcontainment solutiondata centerefficiencyEssential Plus+essential seriesEssential Structureperformancereduced containment costs