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Catch up with Shane Kilfoil, President of Subzero Engineering

At the recent Data Centre World event in London, Shane Kilfoil, our President, caught up with the team at Intelligent Briefings to discuss the current data center market, challenges customers are facing and how Subzero Engineering remains a leading manufacturer in data center containment solutions. Take a look below to learn more about Shane and Data Centre World London.

Can you introduce yourself and your company?

My name is Shane Kilfoil, I’m the president of Subzero Engineering. We’re a data center containment company based out of the US, with operations out of the UK and Ireland.

What are you showcasing here at Data Centre World?

Subzero Engineering is showcasing our latest cold aisle and hot aisle containment products, servicing the data center market globally.

What are some of the conversations you’ve been having with potential new customers?

The conversations have varied this year with customers. We have those customers who are really trying to figure out where they stand in a world where interest rates are going up, capital costs more  and discovering how they do more with their existing infrastructure. Then we’ve got other customers who already have an eye on the future, looking at what’s coming down the line, for example how liquid or immersion cooling will have a bearing on their data center designs.

How do the demands of your customers vary between the different regions and what are the driving factors behind this?

It’s rather interesting that at the end of the day, most customers are looking for two things. They’re looking for reliability and they are looking for cost-effective operations and solutions. And that doesn’t necessarily vary across the regions, what does vary is how they go about it.

In the US, we’re seeing a lot more floor-supported containment solutions, whereby the aisle frames are supporting not just the containment but the electrical and mechanical conveyance. In Europe, we’re seeing more of the solutions that are still built on the raised floor type environment, so a cold aisle environment. But at the end of the day, all customers are looking at how they can deploy it efficiently, as well as optimizing their operations.

How do you operate with sustainability top of mind, and how is this integrated into your business strategy?

The way you look at sustainability is really three things, first and foremost our products are designed to be more efficient for data centers. We help data center operators operate more efficiently and what do they typically see? They see a reduction in electricity and ultimately see a reduction in water usage. In addition to our products, we’re continuously looking at ways that we can use environmentally friendly products in developing our solutions, we’re looking at recycled aluminum and recycled poly-carb for example, to help reduce our carbon footprint. And then lastly, within our facilites, in both Dublin and in the US, we are continuingly looking at ways that we can operate more efficiently, by reducing not only the electricity consumption but our waste, in terms of  manufacturing processes.

How do you ensure you remain a leading manufacturer of data center containment solutions?

Subzero Engineering has been a data center provider for over 20 years now, and one of our hallmarks has been that we’ve been on the cutting edge of solutions, and we do that by listening to our customers. We service just about all of the major hyperscale providers in the world and take  feedback from them on board, as well as the colo providers, in developing our next generation of solutions and offerings. Thereby staying at the forefront of what customers need and require.

To watch the full interview, please click here.

If you’re interested in learning more about Subzero and the different solutions it can offer, wherever you are in the world, don’t hesitate to get in touch!


Simplex Cleanrooms by Subzero Engineering featured at Advanced Design & Manufacturing Expo!

Press Release : Simplex Modular Cleanrooms by Subzero Engineering featured at Advanced Design & Manufacturing Expo in Montreal Nov 9-10, 2022

Experience the quality of Simplex Cleanrooms by Subzero Engineering in person at D&M Montreal Expo in Montreal!

See into the Future of Canadian Manufacturing and Beyond. D&M Montréal is the sourcing home for thousands of different types of suppliers. From proto-typing to manufacturing, it has everything, and more, under one roof.

Subzero Engineering is excited to exhibit in booth 1006.

Our line of Simplex Modular cleanroom solutions is a prominent leader in critical environment solutions. With more than 35 years of industry expertise, the company designs and manufactures custom cleanrooms, isolation curtains, and industrial enclosure systems that are robust, modular, and expandable. Our complete line of hardwall and softwall enclosures is ideal for a variety of applications.

Spend some time at our booth to:

  • Meet our team of cleanroom experts
  • Experience our product quality firsthand with the demo cleanroom that will be featured in the booth
  • Learn how Simplex Cleanrooms’s recent integration into Subzero Engineering’s product line has streamlined every aspect of our customer’s experience!
  • Learn how our industry-tailored cleanrooms and enclosures can be custom engineered to address your specific needs

See you in Montreal!

Press Release

Simplex Modular Cleanrooms are now part of Subzero Engineering’s industry-leading product line for mission-critical environments.

Press Release : Simplex Modular Cleanrooms Now Manufactured by Subzero Engineering

The same products and team you have trusted for over 40 years — now streamlined! Better, faster, more!

Simplex Modular Cleanrooms & Separation Systems are now part of Subzero Engineering’s industry-leading product line for mission-critical environments. “Simplex” will become the branded name of Subzero’s Modular Cleanroom & Separation System line of products.

The customer benefits of this streamlined merge are unprecedented!

As part of the merge, Simplex has moved our production facility from Fontana, California to a new state-of-the-art facility in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Just a few benefits customers will experience:

  • Larger Stock of Inventory
  • More Personnel and Better Customer Support
  • Shared Knowledge
  • More Site Services and Installation Capabilities
  • A Single Business Entity

New state-of-the-art facility

Our new facility was built in 2019 and boasts 120,000 sq ft of production space and an additional 100,000 sq ft of office space, this is a huge change from the 30,000 sq ft of production space we had in Fontana. This new facility will allow us the space needed to support our growing customer base and take Simplex into the future of cleanroom manufacturing.

More Customer Support

The combined teams of Subzero Engineering and Simplex offers more knowledge, resources, and support for our customers. We now have a full team of Product Engineers and Sales Application Engineers available to assist our customers with custom projects, product enhancements, and new products ensuring that we can continue to support you with all of your cleanroom and separation needs.

Shorter shipping times to the east coast

With a more centralized location, we will be able to ship tothe East coast quicker, with less of a cost to our customers.

NEW WEBSITE — SubzeroEng.com

A new user-friendly website is full of useful resources and product information. All cleanroom-related solutions will becolor coded in the familiar Simplex orange.

Communications and Invoices

During this transition, you will start seeing more communications coming from Subzero Engineering and Senneca Holdings emails. Do not be alarmed, Simplex, Subzero and Senneca are all part of the same organization.
From the same core team you’ve trusted all ofthese years — we thank you for your years of business.

— From the same core team you’ve trusted all ofthese years .
We thank you for your years of business.We look forward to building our businesses together!

Data Center
Educational Article

Rethinking Data Center Design to Maximize Efficiency

NEW WHITEPAPER explains why efficiency-optimized data center design and operation has never been more critical

An environmentally friendly data center is always a cost-effective data center.

Simplex Modular Cleanrooms & Separation Systems are now part of Subzero Engineering’s industry-leading product line for mission-critical environments. “Simplex” will become the branded name of Subzero’s Modular Cleanroom & Separation System line of products.

An environmentally friendly data center is always a cost-effective data center.

This White Paper will answer these questions

  • Why are both large hyperscale and smaller data centers moving towards this layout? 
  • What makes this design simpler and more versatile? 
  • How does design effect airflow and cooling optimization? 
  • What makes it energy efficient and sustainable?  What about equipment reliability? 

And provide insight on the following topics

  • Raised Floor Versus Slab Floor
  • When To Use Raised Floors
  • When To Use Slab Floors
  • Slab Floors Simplify Cooling IT Equipment
  • Containment Options
  • Maximizing Energy Efficiency & Sustainability
Press Release

A European modular cleanroom launch is on the horizon

Featured article: Interview with Simplex Isolation Systems

Simplex interview is featured in CleanroomTechnology.com

With a European modular cleanroom launch on the horizon, US-based Simplex Isolation Systems’ Director of Sales talks about trends in the cleanroom design & build sector and his hopes and plans for the company to respond to them.

Educational Article

What You Need to Know When Considering a Cleanroom

There are numerous considerations when evaluating a cleanroom.

Does your business plan include the development of an area in your plant for clean manufacturing? Are you concerned that you make the right purchase? Do you want to make sure you consider the right factors when you evaluate different models?

There are numerous considerations when evaluating a cleanroom. This article covers the basics.
You may very well need to employ the services of a cleanroom consultant to help you. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you start to consider cleanrooms and controlled environments.

1. What’s the application? 

Better quality or better yield is the primary reason for investing in a cleanroom space. It goes straight to your bottom line. 

Numerous manufacturing procedures now require a controlled environment in which you limit the amount of dust and dirt in the area of the manufacturing. Medical instrument manufacturing and packaging, electronics and computer manufacturing, food preparation and some military applications are but a few of the instances that have strict requirements for maintaining a clean environment. You need to know the requirement for your specific product or process. If the product you are manufacturing is regulated by a government agency, or you are contracting with a private firm that requires a certain level of clean manufacturing, they should have the cleanroom standards already documented. Check with them first. 

There are different levels of cleanrooms. ISO—the International Standards Organization, ranks cleanrooms ISO Class 1 (the cleanest) through ISO Class 9. The lower the ISO rating, the cleaner the environment. 

There are different levels of cleanrooms. ISO—the International Standards Organization, ranks cleanrooms ISO Class 1 (the cleanest) through ISO Class 9. The lower the ISO rating, the cleaner the environment. Measurement of contamination is done in “parts-per-cubic-meter.” An ISO Class 6 cleanroom, for example, is rated at 35,200 parts per cubic meter. That means the room can have no more than 35,200 particles greater than .5 micron in size per cubic meter. These are particles that are not visible to the human eye. (As a comparison, a particle of cigarette smoke is between .5 and 2 micron in size. The end of a piece of human hair is about 60 to 100 microns in size). 

Particle counts are performed at the work surface height. The pre-filters remove the dirt and dust you can see (call them baseballs and boulders). HEPA filters capture the particles you can’t see with a human eye. A light manufacturing area (defined as an environment that is not generating smoke or oil mist, such as storm window assembly and packaging) with pre-filtration on a HVAC system might be equivalent to an ISO Class 8 room, with 3,520,000 parts per cubic meter that measure greater than .5 micron. This is comparable to room air. 

Again, know what the manufacturing requirements are. 

2. Know the basic principles behind how a cleanroom works

The majority of cleanrooms, easily more than 90%, are positive-pressure rooms—designed to keep contaminants from entering the room. Air is introduced into the cleanroom, typically at the ceiling level, after passing through a fan-powered HEPA filter that removes particles as small as .5 microns. This creates a pressurized room in which the air pressure in the room is greater than outside the room— hence, positive pressure. The air, and the contaminants in the air, are then pushed down towards the floors, and ultimately pushed out vents in the lower portions of the walls of the room. 

This means that air and contaminants from the processes in the room are constantly flowing out of the room. In addition, the air exiting the room, either through vents or when doors are opened, is at a pressure sufficient enough to prevent contaminants from entering via those openings. 

Negative-pressure rooms are designed to keep contaminants from leaving the room. A negative pressure room is used in instances of infectious diseases and pathogens, bio-contaminants and some hazardous processes using chemicals, flammables and potentially explosive liquids and powders. Your concern is not what gets into the room, but what gets out. 

In a negative pressure room, air is pulled out of the enclosure through reversed HEPA filters, creating a negative pressure inside the room (which prevents contaminants from leaving the room), while air is constantly being drawn in through venting and other openings. The force of the air entering the room prevents contaminants from escaping. 

Because they are so prevalent, for purposes of this white paper we will be discussing positive-pressure rooms. 

3. ISO standards are the industry norm for rating cleanrooms. 

ISO standards were adopted by the industry in 2001. If you do any serious research into ISO standards, you are likely to come across the Federal Standard 209E for cleanrooms, which was the industry norm until ISO standards were developed. The federal standards were officially cancelled by the US Department of Commerce in November 2001, but they are still widely referenced. 

“ISO classifications expanded the horizon for classifying clean space,” according to Richard Matthews of Filtration Technology, Inc., in Greensboro, NC, who chaired the ISO board that developed these standards. Here are the Federal standards and their ISO equivalents. Note that ISO created three new levels that the Federal standard did not address. 

ISO Class 9 = No comparable Federal standard 

ISO Class 8 = Federal standard Class 100,000 

ISO Class 7 = Federal standard Class 10,000 

ISO Class 6 = Federal standard Class 1,000 

ISO Class 5 = Federal standard Class 100 

ISO Class 4 = Federal standard Class 10 

ISO Class 3 = Federal Standard Class 1 

ISO Class 2 = No comparable Federal standard 

ISO Class 1 = No comparable Federal standard

Whenever possible, refer to the ISO standards because they are internationally accepted. If you are dealing with partners in other countries, this will make issues much simpler. 

4. It’s all about air changes per hour, sometimes

With some exceptions, a cleanroom is a cleanroom is a cleanroom. Achieving a cleaner class of cleanroom is all about airflow. It’s a matter of bringing clean air in through HEPA filters in the ceiling and moving contaminated air out through vents in the walls or floors. The greater the number of HEPA filters and vents, the greater the rate of air change. You can see from this chart what the requirements are: 

ISO Class 9 through ISO Class 6 rooms are determined based on air changes per hour. ISO Class 5 through ISO Class 1 rooms are based on the flow of air through the room in meters per second. How are you getting the air into the space and how are you pushng it out? It’s easy to clean the air. The more difficult question is: Are you moving the air out of the area properly? Where does air enter the clean space and how conveniently is it moved out, carrying with it the contaminants from the manufacturing process? Placement of work tables, chairs and equipment becomes more crucial. An item incorrectly placed creates “dead space” where particles are trapped. 

These environments are prevalent in micro-electronics and will play a big part in nanotechnology as we get more involved in that industry. At these levels it is very important that you consult with a knowledgeable expert. 

5. Every cleanroom has three different states or conditions

Cleanrooms are measured for particulate count at three different levels: As Built, At Rest and Operational. As Built refers to the cleanroom as it is when it is built, empty of any equipment, materials or workers. Cleanrooms are typically certified by the manufacturer as to their level of cleanliness at the As Built level. At Rest refers to the cleanroom once equipment, machinery, furniture and product have been moved in, before the workers. All these elements bring with them sources of contamination, so you can expect a change in particulate count. Finally, there is the Operational level. This refers to the cleanroom when all the equipment and materials are moved in and there are workers in there performing tasks. Again, you are likely to see a change in particulate count. Machinery that performs an excellent function outside of a cleanroom can be a source of pollution inside a cleanroom. Metal shavings, gases and oil mist from pneumatic machinery and vapors from outgassing plastics are all sources of contamination. 

Any process that involves friction or movement is going to cause particulation. In order to prevent a drastic increase in contamination at the operational level it is important to adhere to proper protocol and procedures—things like gowning, house cleaning and workflow. If your process must involve machinery, then it may be necessary to further isolate that machine within the cleanroom in order to prevent it from contaminating the rest of the operation. A common solution is to build a cleanroom within the cleanroom using either partitions, or more commonly curtains, to isolate the machine. It may also be necessary to vent that area separately from the rest of the room. 

This change in particulate count from As Built, At Rest and Operational levels is another reason that you need to involve a cleanroom expert early on in the process. 

6. Modularity 

Things change. You can count on that. A cleanroom with a modular design allows the original layout to be expanded without having to rebuild from scratch. Your need for clean manufacturing space will increase or expansion will dictate that you move to larger facilities. Modularity in a cleanroom is important. With a modular design you can, with ease, expand the size of your cleanroom as your needs increase, without having to toss out part or all of your original cleanroom investment. And in the event you move to a new facility, you can disassemble your modular cleanroom and take it with you. 

There are also cleanroom designs that incorporate casters so that the enclosure can be easily moved around your factory floor. An example where this might be applicable is an injection mold facility where the manufacturing area is ISO Class 9, but production has an order for an I.V. component that requires an ISO Class 7 environment (an I.V. system has to be manufactured in at least an ISO Class 7 cleanroom). You can create this environment on the factory floor by enclosing the injection-mold machine in a portable cleanroom outfitted with casters and a HEPA unit installed in the ceiling grid. Simply roll the enclosure to the appropriate machine and attach softwall curtains to contain it. 

Another advantage to a modular cleanroom is in its tax benefits. A modular cleanroom can be written off in seven years. An existing room within your facility that is transformed into a cleanroom—referred to as “stick-built”—has to be written off over a much longer period of time. 

7. Envision future plans

Don’t make the mistake of trying to get along with a minimum of cleanroom space. You will be surprised at the speed your cleanroom needs increase. Better to plan for too much space than not enough. 

8. Don’t underestimate air conditioning needs

You might start with three workers in your cleanroom, and then find you need to increase to five or six. All that extra body heat, as well as any heat-producing machinery in your clean area, and that cleanroom quickly starts getting hot and uncomfortable. Also take into consideration that basic cleanroom clothing includes a hair covering, booties and a smock. Anything cleaner than Class 7 requires additional safeguards—masks, beard covers, goggles, etc. It is better to err on the side of too much when planning for air conditioning. 

This is where you get into the difference between single-pass and recirculating rooms. A single-pass room is a simple design in which air is pumped into the room from the top and blown out vents at the bottom. If you have to air condition your cleanroom, then you don’t want to just blow that expensive air-conditioned air through the cleanroom and out into a warehouse or other environment where it does little good. A recirculating design uses a double-ceiling system (the space between the ceilings is called a plenum) or a double wall (the space in the walls is called an air chase), or a combination of these two. Cooled, clean air is introduced through the HEPA filters and then flows out of the room, carrying with it any contaminants, into either the air chase or the ceiling plenum, where it is reintroduced into the room after once again passing through the HEPA filters. 

When you plan and budget for your cleanroom, consider that installation of a recirculating system for that enclosure is going to be at least 50% of the installation costs. If it is possible to place the cleanroom in an area where air conditioning is already in place that will be a huge money-saver. 

9. Not considering all that is needed 

It pays to bring in an expert early in the planning process. They can help you troubleshoot airflow problems, the types of testing procedures you must employ, and how to develop cleanroom protocols. A knowledgeable professional will point out things you will not even consider. 

It pays to bring in an expert early in the planning process. A knowledgeable professional will point out things you will not even consider

10. Think about process flow 

Give some thought to the workflow in your cleanroom. You want materials to come in one end and exit the other, and in the meantime, completing all the necessary assembly and packaging that is needed. The goal is not only to improve productivity and yield but to maintain or improve the speed of the manufacturing process. Again, this is an area where you should employ a consultant. 

11. The need for interior isolation. 

Every cleanroom ISO Class 7 or cleaner should have an anteroom for gowning, set off from the larger cleanroom with softwall curtains at least. This keeps street dirt from getting into the clean area. Interior isolation is also important in food processing and pharmaceuticals to prevent cross-contamination. A recent Simplex project called for dividers for a vitamin processing operation. If vitamin B12 meanders into the Vitamin C work area, that’s cross-contamination—a huge problem. Cross-contamination can mean manufacturing shutdowns and product recalls and lost profits. 

12. Clearance issues

People are often eager to use as much of their space as possible. It is a good idea to give yourself some extra room overhead between the outside ceiling of your cleanroom and the ceiling of your building—Simplex recommends three feet—to allow you to change out the pre-filters, HEPA’s and ULPA’s without a big hassle. The other issue to consider is that without enough clearance, a minimum of six inches, you run the risk of starving your filters for air. 

13. More need for clearance 

Regarding installation of the room itself, three feet is important all the way around the side walls. It will make the installation easier, as you will have more room to work with. The common space solution is to place the cleanroom against the walls and this is often done. This is great for maximizing the footprint but will make the install more difficult. 

The performance of your cleanroom hinges a great deal on the quality of the assembly. Look for a company that supplies the approval drawings with layout and elevations, and also shows the HEPA and lighting layout. 

14. Look for a cleanroom with extensive plans and instructions

The performance of your cleanroom hinges a great deal on the quality of the assembly. Look for a company that supplies the approval drawings with layout and elevations, and also shows the HEPA and lighting layout. Look for a manufacturer that supplies installation drawings with every panel marked with a letter or number that corresponds to the panel or part on the drawing. For large cleanrooms and critical applications you might need to consider a specialty contractor knowledgeable in cleanroom construction. 

15. Know the difference between a cleanroom and a clean zone and be clear in what you need 

Cleanrooms are areas in which the particulate count is measured and controlled. There is a requirement for a specific level of clean. A clean zone is an area within an existing cleanroom that is even cleaner, much like the injection mold operation cited in #4. 

There are also areas that a manufacturer may want to isolate, but not have to maintain at a certain ISO level. A recent project Simplex completed involved a manufacturing and warehousing facility where inventory was stored adjacent to the manufacturing area. Dust from the manufacturing process was drifting into the storage area. Although the product was not required to be clean when it was shipped, the manufacturer wanted it to be free from excessive dust—for aesthetic reasons. The goal in this case was isolation, not making the environment clean in the sense of a cleanroom. Simplex installed 300 running feet of industrial opaque vinyl curtain and two industrial strip doors that created a clean zone where product could be stored. Inventory could be shipped without the need for a second cleaning. 

16. Establish cleanroom operating procedures and have them documented

Make sure your employees read them, are familiar with them, and follow them—always. The single biggest source of contamination in a clean area is—you guessed it—the worker in that area. If your cleanroom requirements call for gowning and booties, then no employee should ever enter that space without them. To do otherwise contaminates your workplace and sacrifices the integrity of your manufacturing process. 

NOTE: Maintaining clean environments can be a complicated and critical task. The information provided here is meant to give the reader a basic understanding of the issues involving the selection of a cleanroom. Simplex recommends that you always consult and work with a cleanroom professional when implementing any sort of isolation procedures in your workplace, laboratory or hospital, thus ensuring that you maintain the highest standards. 

Simplex Isolation Systems wishes to thank Richard Matthews of Filtration Technology, Inc., in Greensboro, NC, for his input on this white paper. 

Data Center
Educational Article

Meeting the Demand for Truly High Performance, Sustainable and Flexible Data Centers

Article Featured in Networks Europe Magazine
By: Andy Connor, Director – EMEA Channel

The data center industry faces potentially opposing challenges over the next few years, so optimizing data center performance has never been more important. In order to achieve this, at Subzero Engineering, we believe a number of things have to happen.

The data center industry faces potentially opposing challenges over the next few years. On the one hand, the demands of our digital age show no sign of stopping, and with 5G expected to reach mainstream adoption, one could reasonably argue that the digital infrastructure required to support such applications is going to increase significantly. What’s clear is that it needs to be agile, scalable, quick-to-deploy, and, above all, efficient, if it is to meet the users’ expectations.

At the same time the data center industry, as a major power consumer, must become more sustainable, and move forward from the easy wins of carbon offsetting to a much more sophisticated programme of carbon reduction and eventual elimination – Net Zero.

Set against these twin objectives, optimising data center performance has never been more important, and in order to achieve this, at Subzero Engineering, we believe a number of things have to happen:

Data drives decision-making

Cliché or not, the saying that ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage or improve it’ remains true. For data center owners and operators, this means understanding either how your existing facility performs under varying environmental conditions and identifying ways to improve it. This may mean major modernizations work will need to take place where efficiencies are lacking. Or designing a new facility, which offers the layout, optimum flexibility and environmental performance to meet the constantly changing requirements of digital customers alongside sustainability targets.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software will play an increasingly important role when it comes to data center design and construction, retrofit and helping to improve the efficiency and performance of legacy data centers. It allows the simulation of an endless combination of racks, cabinets, cabling and mechanical and engineering (M&E) equipment, with the anticipated IT load, to ensure optimization. In providing data-driven analysis of the cold and hot air within the data center, CFD analysis also delivers optimized layout recommendations and highlights how energy costs can be reduced by optimising and maximising cooling usage throughout the data center. Such an Environmental Impact Evaluation provides valuable information to help operators reduce energy usage and carbon emissions and will play a critical role in meeting Net Zero data centers.

Modernization is critical

Armed with the data, it’s time for action. And this is where I believe that data center containment solutions can play a critical role – especially as data center owners/operators look to improve both the IT and environmental performance of new and legacy facilities. The benefits are many, and both hot and cold aisle containment solutions optimize the interaction of the cold supply and hot exhaust air within the data center. This eliminates hot spots and significantly reduces the prospect of equipment failure. It also applies to the M&E and the IT hardware, both of which might otherwise be challenged to cope with extreme, unregulated temperatures. Improved reliability is a prerequisite for today’s digital applications.

A new kind of micro data center will emerge, that is truly vendor agnostic, with the user’s choice of data center components

Once installed, containment solutions provide major environmental benefits, including higher cooling supply temperatures, lower CRAC fan speeds, a lower carbon footprint and a lower PUE. Another key containment outcome is significantly reduced energy usage, hence a smaller energy bill. Combined with an energy management and monitoring programme, containment solutions also allow operators to extend the lifecycle of their systems, which is a major sustainability win.

Greater flexibility at the edge

The edge infrastructure market is predicted to surge over the next two years, but today is dominated by small-scale micro data centers which are often pre-populated, single rack solutions. This can mean little flexibility in terms of their make-up, size or ability to scale up a single system in a modular manner and that the key needs of our digital age – flexibility, agility, scalability, speed – may not be met.

We believe that a new kind of micro data center will gain momentum in the coming months, one that can be truly vendor agnostic, and designed with the user’s choice of data center components (power, cooling, racks, cabling, safety systems). Such systems can be provided as standardized, but highly flexible or fully customized solutions, enabling the user to define their edge based on the business requirements. Furthermore, they can offer a 20-30 percent cost saving when compared to a fully containerized micro data center.

As we look towards Net Zero, sustainability and performance demands must be met. It requires greater flexibility in our infrastructure and a data driven approach to design and deployment.

Data Center
Educational Article

It’s Time to Rethink the Concept of Micro Data Centers

Article Featured in Inside_Networks Magazine Page 14-15, Letter to Editor
By: Andy Connor, Director – EMEA Channel

Data centres that are designed to meet the needs of standard or enterprise business applications are plentiful. Yet flexible and user defined data centres for edge applications, which rely on dynamic real time data delivery, provisioning, processing and storage, are in short supply.

That’s partly because of the uncertainty over which applications demand such infrastructure and over what sort of timeframe. However, there’s also the question of flexibility. Many of today’s existing micro data centre solutions meet a predefined concept of edge or, more accurately, localised, low latency applications, which also require high levels of agility and scalability. This is due to their predetermined or specified approach to design and infrastructure components, often led by the vendor.

To date, the market has been met with small scale edge applications, which have been deployed in pre-populated, containerised solutions. A customer is often required to conform to a standard shape or size and there’s no flexibility in terms of their modularity, components or make-up.

One might argue it comes with the subjective nature of edge computing, which is often shaped to support a vendor defined technology. Standardisation has also been beneficial for our industry, offering several key advantages including the ability to replicate systems across multiple locations. But when it comes to the edge, some standardised systems aren’t built for the customer – they’re a product of vendor collaboration. This is also accompanied by high costs and long lead times.

On the one hand, having a piece of pre-integrated infrastructure with everything in it can undoubtedly solve some pain points, especially where deployment is concerned. But what happens if the customer has their own alliances, their own definition of the edge, or may not need all of the components? What happens if they run out of capacity in one site or need a modular system that scales?

Then those original promises of scalability or flexibility disappear, leaving the customer with just one option – to buy another container. One might consider that rigidity, when it comes to standardisation, can often be detrimental to the customer. The point here is that when it comes to micro data centres, 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 in industrial manufacturing, automotive, telco or colocation environments. But how can users achieve this?

Vendor agnostic and flexible micro data centres are the future for the industry – an approach that builds containment systems around customers’ needs, without forcing their infrastructure to fit into boxes. Users should have the flexibility to utilise their choice of best in class data centre components including the IT stack, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), cooling architecture, racks, cabling or fire suppression systems.

By taking an infrastructure agnostic approach it’s possible to give customers the ability to define their edge, and use standardised and scalable infrastructure in a way that’s truly beneficial to their businesses.

Editor’s comment

Growing data demands are forcing engineers to think creatively about the ways they design and develop data centres. Andy’s point about the rigidity of some micro data centre solutions is pertinent and one that needs to be addressed in order to fully meet the potential of the edge.


Subzero Engineering Appoints New UK/EMEA Channel Manager

Article Featured in Data Centre Network News

Subzero Engineering has announced it has appointed Craig Brown as its new UK/EMEA Channel Manager.

Craig brings with him a wealth of data centre industry and IT Channel expertise, having held a variety of sales, marketing, and management roles throughout his career. Over the past 25 years Craig has worked for some of the industry’s foremost infrastructure vendors, including APC, Anixter, Eaton, Geist and Vertiv, and has been appointed to support Subzero’s expansion strategy as it scales across the EMEA region.

Subzero Engineering’s impressive track record for technology innovation, engineering consultancy, data-driven design, and environmental impact services, combined with its dynamic expansion plans, were a major factor in Craig’s decision to join the company. The company has a strong and demonstrable track record of working with the hyperscale and colocation communities and supporting the digital transformation efforts of world-leading industrial manufacturers, retail, and fashion brands. Craig’s experience of working with the Internet Giants, and with customers of the financial and telco sectors, will be crucial to the company’s efforts.

In his new role, Craig will be responsible for scaling the company’s partner base, building on its engineering, structured cabling, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) partners to drive growth across the region. With technological expertise in thermal dynamics, the data centre powertrain and in white space technologies, he understands the critical role that M&E consultants play in the industry. Further, he will continue to develop the company’s new services offering, which utilises computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software to evaluate and analyse legacy systems and form a data-driven basis on which to build businesses digital transformation and modernisation efforts.

“The data centre industry is one of the world’s most important sectors, and the work of its mechanical and engineering (M&E) professionals is essential, as digitalisation efforts accelerate,” says Craig Brown, UK/EMEA Channel Manager, Subzero Engineering. “I believe our environmental impact services, and innovative approaches to vendor-agnostic data centre solutions, provides our partners with an opportunity to address end-user challenges, add considerable value, and drive long-term growth.”

“I want to build a Channel program which showcases Subzero’s world-class engineering capabilities, which are dynamically delivered and supported with a high-quality service and support package,” he continues. “Our primary ambition, however, is to develop a Channel program that is based on true partnerships, and one which will push the industry to better support its partners.”

“I’m delighted that Craig has joined the company as part of our European expansion plans, bringing the perfect blend of ambition, energy and experience to this key role” says Andy Connor, EMEA Channel Director, Subzero Engineering. “We believe that our technologies offer partners a major opportunity to deliver a true combination of flexibility, modularity, scalability, and sustainability, all of which are crucial to help customers on their digital transformation journeys.”

Data Center
Educational Article

Subzero Engineering: Sustainable Solutions for Data Centers

Article Featured in AI MagazineConsultancy and customised containment – which complement the data centres they work with – is the global calling card of Subzero Engineering

Subzero Engineering recognises data centers are dynamic environments, so they have created customised containment solutions which make energy-efficient savings for their customers.

Subzero Engineering is the industry leader in bespoke containment solutions using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to show measurable results for their customers which includes the following savings; $300 million in energy costs, 1.5 billion gallons of water, and three million tonnes in the reduction of carbon dioxide since 2015.

“We believe that a data-driven approach is essential to drive data centre performance and efficiency,” commented Andy Connor, Director EMEA Channel, who points out they offer CFD checks for free.

“We help our customers do this with our customised, streamline, and energy efficient containment solutions which result in a lower total cost of ownership and reduced carbon emissions.”

Subzero Engineering has manufacturing facilities in Salt Lake City, US, where they were founded in 2005 (starting out as a data centre airflow consulting company), and in Dublin, Ireland.

“We have a large team of leading industry experts that help us operate globally, and at speed, and we work with customers ranging from the hyperscalers and colocation communities through to well-known brands and sports, retail, HPC, and AI,” said Connor.

Partnership with atNorth
Subzero Engineering has been working with atNorth, a high performance sustainable data centre in Iceland, for the past three years.

“When atNorth began the process of building their data centre halls they got in touch with us to provide the hot and cold aisle containment systems. Their facility is unique in its structure, so we moved from simply providing containment solutions to working with them consultatively to create a standardised ultra-efficient and performance focused system and something that could be repeated across multiple sites as their business grew.”

Climate neutral data centre pact
One of the drivers which is currently influencing data centre design is the fact hyperscalers and members of the colocation community have signed up to the climate neutral data centre pact.

“New data centres are being designed for sustainable operations, but it needs to be more flexible to accommodate the needs of GPUs chip and processing power, so there’s a real challenge to find that balance,” said Connor. “However, I think the real challenge in the market is the legacy facilities. These really need to be updated and modernised to become more efficient in order to reduce their OPEX, energy consumption, and CO2.”

Balance performance and efficiency
Connor says Subzero Engineering helps operators balance performance and efficiency. “We started life back in 2005 as a CFD consultancy when data centres were using raised floors and experiencing issues with leakages. Our software solution showed customers how they could analyse the infrastructure and improve efficiency.

“Fast forward 16 years and that approach has stayed with us. We’re an engineering-led solutions provider who helps businesses reduce their carbon footprint and operating costs – but it all starts with the data we produce from our CFD reports,” he said.