The DCD data center podcast, brought to you every two weeks

  • Episode 50 - The fundamentals of quantum computing with Yuval Boger, QuEra

    In this episode of Zero Downtime, we break down the fundamentals of quantum computing - the different approaches out there, the challenges to bringing it into a widespread commercial reality, and the potential use cases that quantum may help with.

    To help divulge this, we speak to QuEra's Yuval Boger who shares a little about the company's experience with the technology, including how we can go about deploying quantum computers inside data centers.

  • Episode 49 - How CDNs quietly took over the Internet, with Mark de Jong, CDN Alliance

    Twenty-five years ago, the first content delivery networks (CDNs) emerged, to solve a specific problem - how to make web pages load faster.

    More than two decades later, 72 percent of Internet content is delivered through CDNs. But the companies involved are still almost invisible - until something goes wrong.

    In 2021, in a ⁠series ⁠of ⁠outages⁠, large numbers of unrelated websites all went out of action at the same time. It turned out that these sites had all come to rely on the same CDNs, effectively installing a single point of failure for large sections of the Internet.

    Since then, large service providers have worked out how to avoid this problem - and one CDN provider told us in a podcast ⁠what to do⁠ when it does happen.

    Major CDN players have extended into a distributed cloud role, running applications at the Edge, and Cloudflare, for one, believes CDNs have a huge opportunity in "inference" - when AI pre-trained systems are deployed for actual applications.

    In 2021 the CDN Alliance, an industry body that aims to be a voice and forum for CDN players, along with the ecosystem that has grown up around them, was formed.

    Mark de Jong, founder and chair of the CDN Alliance, tells us why CDNs need a voice, and what they need to be saying.

  • Episode 48 - How to face up to regulations, with Venessa Moffat, EkkoSense

    Europe has an Energy Efficiency Directive, Germany has an Energy Efficiency Act, and operators there can be fined for inefficiency.

    Meanwhile, Amsterdam has declared war on sleeping servers, and set limits on where facilities can be built.

    Across Europe, in response to congested electric grids and shortages of land, local governments are stepping in to regulate data centers.

    Sometimes they want them to be greener, sometimes they want them to be quieter, and sometimes they just want them somewhere else. But any data center operator now has to be prepared to meet new reporting requirements and talk to the local authorities about their business.

    This is not a bad thing, says Venessa Moffat, head of channel partner manager EMEA Europe for Ekkosense. It's about time those discussions happened.

    People who run cities need to understand the businesses that are located there - and from those discussions, new partnerships can emerge.

  • Episode 47 - Hydrogen data centers get real, with Yuval Bachar, ECL

    At the start of 2023, Yuval Bachar told us about his latest project - to build off-grid, hydrogen-powered data centers. As 2023 came to an end, he was back to tell us he'd done it.

    He's got 1MW of capacity fed by hydrogen in Mountain View California, and he's telling potential customers he can build the same thing anywhere you can get hydrogen shipped by pipe or tanker.

    He's keen on the benefits. No long waits for power distribution, no struggles getting permits for diesel. And the building is quick and cheap too. He can make them with a 3D concrete printer - which incidentally is environmentally better than tilt-up building, he says.

    He picked up the Environmental Impact prize at this year's DCD Awards, and joined the podcast to give us some more details on what he has done.... and what's coming next

  • Episode 46 - Telecoms in troubling times with Ineke Botter

    Ever wonder what it would be like to be a CEO at a telecom company in a country that is at war?

    That’s been the reality on a couple of occasions for Ineke Botter, who has headed telecom companies in Kosovo and Lebanon.

    Her career has taken across Europe and beyond, spanning more than 30 years.

    She’s even worked in the data center industry too.

    Listen to find out more about Ineke’s incredible journey into telecoms.

  • Episode 45 - Europe's data center regulations, smart grids, and the rise of AI with Neal Kalita, NTT GDC

    Europe is regulating data centers, starting with Germany, where an Energy Efficiency Act is making demands on PUE and heat reuse.

    Neal Kalita thinks the German Act is a "pilot" that other countries will adopt and adapt. It's a test case, he says, on whether regulations will "drive away data center operators" in that country.

    However that plays out, data centers will have to be more transparent about their operations, their demands, and how they plan to evolve. There are big hopes that heat sharing will encourage communities to warm to the data centers in their midst, but how quickly can they be built and connected?

    And finally, with all this to contend with there's a huge change coming, as the demand for AI data centers will push demand out from traditional hubs, so AI training sites can get the power they need, while AI inference operations can have low latency to end users.

    Kalita says that as we digitize the energy grid, and shift towards AI, a lot of things will have to change. Listen in to find out more.

  • Episode 44 - Are SMRs still the best nuclear option? With Tony Grayson, Compass Datacenters

    A year ago, we spoke to Tony Grayson, about nuclear-powered data centers - and small modular reactors (SMRs) looked like the silver bullet, which could deliver low carbon energy at the size and speed the industry wanted, without the cost overruns and complexity of traditional large nuclear installations.

    This year Grayson, a nuclear sub-mariner turned data center engineer, explains to us why SMRs have begun to lose their luster a little, getting mired in redesigns.

    And days after we spoke to him the SMR front runner, NuScale in the US, lost its flagship customer, the North American utility UAMPS. NuScale's CEO is optimistic but listen to Grayson's thoughts on the underlying issues of the SMR sector.

    Could there be a better approach? This year microreactors look promising. Small enough to transport by truck, and powerful enough to power an Edge facility, could they mass-produced and ore-approved?

    Listen to this episode and find out.

  • Episode 43 - Energy use and AI with Alex de Vries, Digiconomist

    Artificial intelligence could grow from almost nothing to using half a percent of the world's electrical power within five years, according to Alex de Vries of Digiconomist.

    That's a crazy rate of growth, but it's not unprecedented. Bitcoin followed almost exactly the same trajectory, expanding from nothing to a sector whose energy use is comparable with that of regular data centers. But the similarities end there, says de Vries, who provided the reliable tracking data for the growth of Bitcoin, and is ready to do the same for AI.

    A year ago, he talked us through his methodology for analyzing Bitcoin energy usage. Now he's back, explaining how we can estimate the consumption of AI systems, This time round, it's all about tracking how many GPUs Nvidia can make, and seeing where they are likely to end up.

    The actual figure depends on a lot of things, and could be higher if more GPUs emerge, or if they are deployed differently. There are questions around the depreciation of the hardware, and how and where AI inference is delivered.

    Listen in to find out how AI's thirst for power is going to affect the world.

  • Episode 42 - The irrepressible Bill Kleyman

    We talk to Bill Kleyman, now at machine learning company, about his lengthy data center career. How did he get into the sector, what did he learn at Switch, and how does he balance life and travel? Tune in to find out.

  • Episode 41 - Do data centers truly bring economic benefits to their location? With Max Schulze, SDIA

    Data centers have outgrown their anonymity. They are large enough consumers of energy and space that they have to enter the political landscape and justify their existence. But how do we know if a data center really brings benefits to its location?

    In some places (like London), it appears that they soak up grid connection capacity and block housing projects. In others (like Denmark and Ireland) they use renewable energy and jeopardize local decarbonization targets.

    It's not easy to know the net benefits brought by a data center, because much of what it does is in the virtual world, and is delivered to people far away.

    Max Schulze has some thoughts on how to start working out the real benefits of a data center - and we hope for more input from DCD readers and listeners.

  • Episode 40 - Plenty of submarine cables in the sea with Elena Badiola, Exa Infrastructure

    Ever wondered about the practical challenges of connecting our continents?

    In this podcast episode, we talk with Exa Infrastructure's Elena Badiola about the process of getting subsea cables underwater: from environmental surveys to climate change, to funding challenges.

    Elena also shares her experience of living on a cable ship for five weeks after an earthquake caused an outage - and how a military coup almost stopped her from getting home.

  • Episode 39 - How will we start to use hydrogen? with Mark Monroe

    In 2022, Mark Monroe's podcast about hydrogen was one of our most popular podcasts ever.

    At Microsoft, Mark had just made a prototype hydrogen fuel cell UPS system that could potentially replace diesel generators to provide low-carbon backup power at data centers. One year on, he's back for some more detail.

    A hydrogen economy will need a distribution system - but will that look like a power network, a gas grid, or a system of trucks? 

    Data centers won't be the first big users of hydrogen: Mark tells us where it will take off. 

    This year, we've heard stories of natural hydrogen mined from underground. Mark assesses that prospect, along with the other sources of hydrogen, and suggests that the new energy source could rewrite the world's map of energy providers.

    Listen to our talk with Mark to find out where and when you will start using hydrogen. 

  • Episode 38 - ICT Environmentalism and the Sustainability Game, with Hunter Vaughan and Nicole Starosielski

    If you want to make infrastructure sustainable, you need to be very careful what words you use.

    That's what Hunter Vaughan and Nicole Starosielski found, through their involvement in a project to make subsea cables sustainable. Words like "sustainability" and "climate neutral" can mean different things, depending on who is talking. And if what you say is vague, then your efforts to be sustainable can get misdirected, or diverted into greenwash, or simply end up (like the words) meaningless. 

    Hunter Vaughan of the University of Cambridge and Nicole Starosielski of the University of California, Berkeley are part of Sustainable Subsea Network. They are also co-authors of a paper called ICT Environmentalism and the Sustainability Gamewhich looks at how players like Greenpeace used language to build pressure for green infrastructure.

    They spoke to DCD about both: how we communicate about sustainability, and how sustainable are our communications systems. 

  • Episode 37 - Actions speak louder than code with Anne Currie, Green Software Foundation

    If you think transitioning the tech sector to net zero is all about renewable energy and heat reuse, think again. Small changes in software could make entire data centers redundant - delivering a much bigger saving for the planet. 

    Green Software is not just about more efficient code, says Anne Currie. Rewriting everything in C might cut energy use - but it would destroy your company.  

    As a leader in the Green Software Foundation, and a seasoned green developer and entrepreneur, Anne has much better ideas. She is working with Sarah Hsu and Sara Bergman, on Building Green Software, an O'Reilly book about what green software really means, and how we can achieve it. 

    Find out more in this podcast.

  • Episode 36 - Developing Internet protocols with Mirjam Kühne, RIPE Chair

    How does the Internet keep running? A close-knit community of engineers has been developing and supporting the protocols that support it for more than forty years.

    During that time, new Internet services have emerged and scaled beyond recognition, and new features have been added, all without breaking the whole system.

    Mirjam Kuhne has been closely involved with this for 20 years, and in 2020 became chair of the European forum for Internet development - RIPE (Réseaux IP Européens, French for "European IP Networks").

    Since then, Internet services became crucial to the continued operation of society during the pandemic, and European Internet services have faced unprecedented technical and political challenges during the war in Ukraine.

    Mirjam says the protocols take care of themselves. What you need is a community of motivated engineers to maintain them.

    RIPE is open to new members, and when you hear how it all works, why wouldn't you get involved?

  • Episode 35 - Taking inspiration from the GSMA in a push to drive the broadband industry with Martin Creaner

    The global interests of the mobile industry are represented by the GSM Association (GSMA). 

    This governing body was established in 1995 to support mobile operators using the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standard for cellular networks. 

    It has become synonymous with the mobile industry and has driven it forward through industry programs, working groups, and initiatives. 

    The GSMA’s legacy has even inspired something similar but for broadband instead, with Martin Creaner, director general of the Worldwide Broadband Association (WBBA) seeking to use this model. 

    Can the GSMA’s model be replicated for broadband as well? Creaner explains why the need for a governing body representing broadband interests is important. 

    “It’s all about creating a member-led organization that creates a platform to drive broadband cooperation and partnership across the whole industry to accelerate broadband adoption everywhere in the world,” said Creaner. 
    If you liked this discussion or any of our other episodes, please give it a like or subscribe on your platform of choice. If we are not available on your favorite podcast player, get in touch.

  • Episode 34 - When will quantum computers reach the data center? With Chris Monroe, IonQ

    Quantum computing is still pretty mysterious, but data center operators have real questions: when will they need installation and support? And how much cooling will they need?

    Chris Monroe, chief scientist at IonQ, gives us the answers, along with plenty of other solid facts about an emerging technology that can seem as illusory as Schrodinger's cat. 

    It turns out that quantum computing is reaching a point where lots of us could soon start to use it. The market may have to choose from an array of different kinds of quantum bits (or "qubits"), but it is quite likely that a brand new quantum computer could fit into a couple of racks of your classical data center.

    Don't believe us? Let Chris explain... 

  • Episode 33 - Empowering women in tech with Kelley Mullick, Iceotope

    There has been an ongoing issue with the representation of women in the tech industry, but why?

    In this episode, we talk to Kelley Mullick about her career to date, the factors that have helped her get to where she is, and the importance of supporting and empowering women to pursue these careers so they can find confidence within themselves.

    We also talk a little about her recent job change from Intel to vice president of advancement and alliances at Iceotope - what drew her to the company and why she thinks precision liquid cooling is the future.

  • Episode 32 - Underground data centers with Andrew Bourget, Eccus

    Having trouble finding a location for your data center project? This DCD podcast could have the answer. Build underground.

    Andrew Bourget of Swiss engineering firm Eccus has a design for a 2MW data center built in an underground tunnel - and he can dig that tunnel wherever you want it, even under existing buildings.

    The way he tells it, tunneling is the future. There's no planning permission required, and you can build under your existing facility. You can migrate underground, and still have your above-ground space available for offices or to rent out. Is he serious?

    Time will tell. He's currently working on projects in Switzerland and France - with his eye on London, where the clay subsoil is apparently ideal for underground data center vaults.

  • Episode 31 - Mark Bjornsgaard of Deep Green on heating swimming pools with data center heat

    In March this year, a swimming pool in Devon, UK, was the unlikely setting for the most widely covered data center story (so far) of 2023. 

    A small immersion-cooled high-performance computing module from Deep Green is giving its heat to the swimming pool, saving Exmouth Leisure Centres £20,000 ($24,000) per year.

    It's not the first time data center waste heat has been harnessed. It's not even the first time it has heated a swimming pool. 

    But Deep Green CEO Mark Bjornsgaard tells us that, this time, all the pieces are in place to make the idea mainstream. 

    In the future, he asks, why should the heat from any computing be wasted?

    Put it another way: if all our heating needs were produced by GPUs and CPUs, that would provide way more computing power than we currently know how to use.  

  • Episode 29 - The nuclear energy silver bullet with Tony Grayson, Compass Datacenters and Alan Howard, OMDIA

    As 2030 approaches, the pressure on data centers to meet their carbon pledges continues to increase. This, compounded with the challenge of energy supply insecurity and rising costs, is driving data centers to look to new methods of powering their operations, which has triggered nuclear power to come to the fore. However, as a result of historical disasters as well as the upfront costs, there is hesitancy in the data center industry to make the move to nuclear.

    This podcast will take a deep dive into the future of nuclear in the data center market, and explore how the heavy regulation of this industry makes it a safe and reliable method of energy generation. However, despite there being some clear use cases of its viability, we are many years off from nuclear becoming a widely used power source owing to its economic feasibility. This begs the questions: when will it be deployed at scale? What is the practicality of SMRs? What technology will be used to bridge the gap as we wait for a nuclear solution?

  • Episode 28 - The future of hyperscale networking, with Juniper Networks' Mike Bushong

    As data center demands grow, hyperscalers are building out vast networks that will help define the future of how infrastructure is interconnected. In the latest episode of the DCD Zero Downtime podcast, we connect with Juniper Networks' group vice president of cloud-ready data center, Mike Bushong, to discuss what this means, and what we should expect next. Plus we discuss AI, silicon photonics, telecoms, the race to 800G, and more.

  • Episode 27 - The 2G and 3G switch-off and what it means for 5G and IoT with Wireless Logic Group CPO, Paul Bullock

    Recently there’s been a number of mobile operators switching off their 3G networks around the world, or scheduling to phase out this old technology.

    2G has also been spoken about at length, but has a slightly longer shelf-life than 3G, as it provides a backbone that still supports the IoT industry today.

    But what does any of this mean, and why does it matter? Well, Wireless Logic Group Chief Product Officer Paul Bullock explains why the need to switch off 3G is necessary for the future of 5G.

    It’s not just 5G, he adds, noting that IoT will gain a lot from the switch off of this service, although he acknowledges that 2G will be more of a challenge to phase out.

    Tune in to listen to the full discussion...

  • Episode 26 - There's something about Maryland, with Quantum Loophole CEO Josh Snowhorn

    As land and power in Virginia's Loudoun County become increasingly scarce, data center developers are seeking fresh ground on which build. While many are moving south within Virginia to the likes of Prince William County, Quantum Loophole is hoping to lure companies north into Maryland.

    A former aluminum smelting works, the company's maiden campus is reportedly luring cloud companies and the hyperscale developers serving them on a huge scale.

    CEO Josh Snowhorn talks us through the company's history and its 2,000+acre gigawatt project located just north from Loudoun across the Potomac river.

  • Episode 25 - Meeting the pioneer of Meet-me rooms with Hunter Newby

    Hunter Newby doesn't claim to have invented the Meet-Me Room, but he created one of the first, in the iconic and historical Manhattan facility, 60 Hudson Street, in about 1998

    At the time data centers had separate connections from multiple carriers, and linking between those carriers meant running a link between their connection points - and paying them heavily. Hunter set up a room where the networks all met up for physical (layer 0) connections - and the rest is history.

    It's a well-documented history because he went on to write a series of magazine articles "Meet Me In New York", "Meet Me In Chicago" etc, about interconnection facilities in major US cities. That series is archived on his site, alongside live data of connections for each of those cities from the open peering resource, PeeringDB.

    Today, there are still not enough Meet-Me rooms. Some US states with large cloud facilities don't have nearby carrier hotels, so local user traffic has to go out to a city like Chicago and back. Hunter wants to foster neutral carrier hotels where there are none.

    Why is 60 Hudson Street the Ellis Island of the Internet? And did Hunter ever write "Meet Me In St Louis"?

    Listen in, and meet Hunter Newby...

  • Episode 22 - Understanding IT Efficiency with Rich Kenny, Interact managing director

    For years, operators have been trying to make their data centers more efficient by optimizing the cooling and power distribution in the facility - and have more or less ignored the IT equipment in the racks.

    PUE - the most popular data center metric - simply optimized the ancillary equipment, trying to approach a "perfect" figure of 1.0, where all the power goes into the rack.

    But what if you could measure the power used by your IT equipment, run comparative tests, and find out how to reconfigure, replace or update your hardware to improve energy efficiency?

    Rich Kenny claims to be able to do that. Interact started as a project by refurbished hardware supplier TechBuyer, aiming to prove that refurbished hardware could be as good as new kit, and grew into a consultancy that compares hardware configurations, and gives guidance on how to do more with less hardware.

    Server manufacturers do their business on the basis that new hardware is always more efficient than old hardware, and colo providers would rather you didn't find out that you could do away with half the racks you are renting.

    Kenny is shining a light into a dark corner that has not had enough exposure, dissecting the 1 in that PUE figure. He could be about to step on some industry toes...

  • Episode 18 - The origin of the Internet of Things with Peter Lewis

    Most people think the Internet of Things is a recent idea, maybe dating to around the year 2000.  In fact, the idea is some 15 years older than that.

    In 1985, the Internet was officially two years old. It linked up some 2000 hosts, and a handful of people used email. In that year, cellular phones were the size of bricks, and almost no one had one. And yet, in 1985, Peter T Lewis predicted the two could be combined, so devices could communicate over wireless links.

    "I predict that not only humans, but machines and other things will interactively communicate via the Internet," he said. "The Internet of Things, or IoT, is the integration of people, processes, and technology with connectable devices and sensors to enable remote monitoring, status, manipulation, and evaluation of trends of such devices."

    Listen to our podcast to find out how Lewis made this astonishingly accurate prediction, years ahead of his time. in a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in 1985. We also find out how his ideas were almost forgotten, and what he thinks of today's IoT.

  • Episode 17 - The impact of climate legislation on digital infrastructure with Stephen Harper, global director of Intel

    After a hiatus of several years, climate change policy is taking off in the US, with the Biden-Harris Administration using the Inflation Reduction Act and the Energy Earthshot to accelerate the clean energy economy.

    But data center energy policy goes back a lot further than that. Stephen Harper, Intel's Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, was there 20 years ago when data centers first came onto the climate change radar, and he's been tracking progress since then.

    As well as their own emissions "footprint", data centers have a positive impact on emissions elsewhere, known as the environmental "handprint"

    But how do we measure that handprint, and set it against the negative impact of infrastructure.

    And coming after this backstory, just what impact of these Biden-Harris initiatives have?

    DCD speaks to Stephen about the likely impact of historic climate legislation for the digital infrastructure sector.

  • Episode 16 - Green software with David Mytton, CEO and co-founder of Console

    Efforts to reduce the environmental impact of our digital world tend to start with the cooling systems at data centers, and rarely get any further.

    The tech industry created PUE as a simple metric which could express how efficiently power is delivered to the racks, but did not consider what happens to that power when it gets there.

    That’s not good enough, because poorly written software could be wasting that power in unnecessary loops and fruitless calculations.

    The Green Software Foundation has emerged to propose a measure of Software Carbon Intensity that will tell developers if their software is a good planetary citizen.

    But this is an issue that gets more complex, the more you look at it. Software that completes quickly must save energy, but what if the software is running on multiple hardware platforms? What about the embodied energy of the hardware you choose for it?

    David Mytton is Co-founder & CEO of Console, a company that makes tools for developers. He’s also looked at the energy used in technology, bothy at Imperial College and at the Uptime Institute.

    He’s now working on a PhD in sustainable computing at the University of Oxford.

    He talks to us about the prospects for Green Software finding its way from academic research, through sponsorship by large vendors, into the hands of developers and consumers.

  • Episode 15 - Tracking data center power use with LBNL's Dr. Arman Shehabi

    As grids around the world struggle to meet demand amid heatwaves and wars, data center power and water usage is increasingly coming under scrutiny. We talk to the researcher who has spent years trying to track the sector's consumption, so that regulators and companies alike can access accurate figures on a secretive sector.

  • Episode 14 - What it’s like building facilities for Google with Sarah Godbehere

    What's it like building facilities for Google, in the epicenter of data center construction - Northern Virginia?  Sarah Godbehere has spent the last three years managing construction on a Google campus in Northern Virginia. She tells us what it's like to be a young woman in an industry full of older men, and shares how she turns potential conflicts by asking the right questions.

  • Episode 13 - Carbon accounting and 24x7 green energy with Simone Accornero, FlexiDAO

    When a data center firm claims to be 100 percent carbon neutral, can we believe them?  Does every electron used in that data come from a solar panel or a wind farm?   Until we have reliable carbon accounting, we won't know for sure, and operators will continue to rely on renewable energy certificates (RECs) which match energy consumption over a year, instead of hour by hour.

    Simone Accornero, CEO of FlexiDAO says we need "RECs on steroids" to move to hourly carbon accounting, and a blockchain-based protocol can deliver this without costing the earth in energy overheads.

    Data centers are a small part of the global electricity market, Accornero says they are ideally suited to drive that market to better carbon accounting, and renewable generation which better matches electricity consumption.

  • Episode 12 - Sustainability-linked financing and data centers, with Aligned’s Matthew Chambliss

    As sustainability continues to become an increasingly important issue for data center owners and operators, many are tying their financing into ESG-related goals. The likes of Green Bonds see proceeds going towards specific green projects, while Sustainability-Linked Loans see interest payments tied to specific targets such as PUE or water use.

    Such financing options have been adopted by cloud and data center companies including Equinix, Digital Realty, Atos, Baidu, AirTrunk, and telcos such as Telefonica, NTT, and Verizon.   

    US operator Aligned’s whole debt pile – more than $3 billion –  is entirely made up of sustainable-tied financing. Aligned’s VP of Finance, Matthew Chambliss discusses the company’s reasoning and journey to adopting sustainable financing.

  • Episode 10 - Working from home during the lockdown, with Alex Cruz Farmer, ThousandEyes

    Working from home expanded massively during the pandemic - but were we ready for such a massive change? The proportion of remote workers grew from 17% of all employees worldwide in 2019 to 32% but the companies weren't fully ready for the change and collaboration tools were often pushed beyond what they were designed for. 

    Alex Cruz Farmer of Cisco ThousandEyes has the tools to look objectively at the user experience and talks to us about how we can improve it.

  • Episode 9 - Hydrogen with Mark Monroe, Microsoft

    The world needs hydrogen as part of the replacement for fossil fuels - and data centers could be the catalyst for that.  

    Mark Monroe, Principal Engineer at Microsoft, explains how the hydrogen economy works. He shows us that hydrogen is not just a proven alternative to diesel for backup, but brings other benefits with it. 

    If data centers switch this small part of their energy needs to hydrogen, this could enable much larger industries to get started - and catalyze a hydrogen economy

  • Episode 7 - Biodiversity & bees with Michelle Wallace, Host in Ireland

    It's easy to think that sustainable data centers are all about reducing carbon. In fact the earth faces a biodiversity crisis as big as the climate crisis. Data centers can have a role in fighting to prevent extinctions, and produce a lot of other benefits in the process.

    When you build a data center, you have to see the unintended consequences, says Michelle Wallace of data center promotion group Host In Ireland. Build badly, and local species will suffer. But it's also easy to get it wrong, to put in measures that don't help.

    Host in Ireland went to Ireland's National Biodiversity Data Centre, found how important pollinators are, and put together a set of actions to protect and promote them, DCs for Bees is now having influence beyond Ireland, and beyond the data center industry.

    It's being followed up with a scheme to plant orchards - and there are more ideas beyond that.

    This is the Zero Downtime episode which could make your data center into a haven for nature, and change your life for the better!

  • Episode 6 - Astrid Wynne Rogers, TechBuyer

    Data center operators who want to be sustainable tend to focus in on carbon - but there are a lot more elements in the Periodic Table, And as we progress towards sustainability, we are going to have to consider all of them.

    In this podcast, Astrid Wynne Rogers, sustainability lead at TechBuyer tells us why we should pay close attention to the lifecycle of our physical servers and the other equipment in our facilities.

    It takes a lot of materials and energy to make equipment, and keeping it out of the waste stream could avoid wasting those resources. But there's more to it than sticking it in a skip for recycling. The circular economy has to join up. With a value put on refurbished equipment, and people actively working to reuse and extend that kit.

    It used to be said that replacing old kit with new always saved energy, because Moore's law meant the new equipment was much faster. That is no longer the case, and TechBuyer did the research to prove it.

    TechBuyer's paper is available here from IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Computing or here from Techbuyer.

    Want another reason to increase your hardware's life?  It's a powerful way to reduce "Scope 3" emissions from your supply chain. And you can't get to Net Zero without dealing with Scope 3.

  • Episode 5 - Holland Barry, Cyxtera

    CTOs have traditionally been key positions for research-driven software and technology companies. As colocation companies increasingly move beyond merely serving space and power, the role of the CTO becomes more important.  

    Holland Barry, Field CTO for Cyxtera, discusses the role of the CTO and Field CTO at the company, the key skills required, and some of the interesting projects the company is working on.

    We also discuss the wider skills market and the shift from ‘dumb colo’ to service provider, and get a boots-on-the-ground view of Cyxtera’s journey to becoming a public company via a SPAC merger.

  • Episode 4 - Wes Swenson, Novva Data Centers

    Data center automation is one thing, but what about automatons walking in the data halls? Robots in the data center are often discussed but rarely make it beyond the pilot project stage. Those that are deployed are often closer to Short Circuit’s Johnny 5 than Neill Blomkamp's CHAPPiE.

    Utah-based Novva data centers has deployed Boston Dynamics' Spot robot dog – possibly the most advanced robot that is currently commercially available – at its flagship data center and is looking to create a replicable and scalable model for deploying robots in its other current and future facilities. DCD discusses the pains of deploying a robot that is still a way off enterprise-ready plug-and-play with CEO Wes Swenson along with the lack of a wider support ecosystem for robotic deployments, and the future role of humans in the data center.

  • Episode 3 - Anders Andrae, Huawei Technologies

    Figures quoted in 2021 suggested that data centers and communications technology could use eight percent or even 20 percent of the world's electricity by 2030. That seemed too high to us, so we tracked down the original source of the quotes, only to find he feels the same way. Anders Andrae is an academic, currently working at Huawei's Swedish R&D center. Since his original 2015 paper he has revised his predictions down, but the old figures still often show up out of context. More importantly, he thinks we should be looking at the benefits of IT as well as the energy cost. He talks of a "handprint" that counter-balances the environmental "footprint." Andrae says the Internet saves far more emissions, through offering a digital alternative to physical services, than it consumes.

  • Episode 2 - Max Schulze, the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance

    Max Schulze is the founder of the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA), a group of stakeholders aiming to achieve a sustainable digital infrastructure by 2030. He thinks the answer to heat reuse is economics, not engineering.

    And when we've sorted that out, he foresees that the big cloud providers will be disaggregated, and the cloud will become the same kind of market as the electricity grid.

  • Episode 1 - Lex Coors, Interxion

    In the first episode of the DCD>Zero-Downtime podcast, we spoke to Lex Coors, Chief Data Center Technology & Engineering Officer at Digital Realty's Interxion, about his two decades at the company, from the early days, to the rise of cloud, and the recent Digital Realty acquisition. We also discussed sustainability efforts, the European energy crisis, and how to ensure that local communities don't turn against data centers.