Data center innovation at scale is dependent on holistic sustainability, not just renewables

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Over the last ten to fifteen years, the data center industry has faced a reckoning when it comes to sustainability. What we once considered a nice-to-have, is becoming a true necessity.

The problem lies in what exactly those standards are, and when sustainability feels like a loose term already, the details on just how much a data center impacts the environment are just as fuzzy. According to Data Center Dynamics, unreliable figures mean “data center operators don’t treat the issue with the right seriousness, energy grids can’t plan for their demands, it’s impossible to get a true picture of data centers’ role in global warming, and we see a series of heated but inconclusive arguments.” 

Closely related to that inconclusive data is the practice of greenwashing and greenhushing — where organizations may use bandaid fixes that don’t show the true environmental impact of facilities. So when figures are unclear and data isn’t shared (or even when it is shared), how do we approach the problem?

The industry is still taking a stand to transition into renewable energy and other environmentally-friendly practices. Like most things, there’s a transitional period as data center providers incorporate those environmental standards into practice, and determine the best course of action for their customers as data gets better and more transparent.

While a renewable power source or smaller facility footprint is a completely valid approach, they’re piecemeal. Patrick Quirk, our Cheif Technology Officer, says that “Until we, as a broader industry incorporate in the silicon, the software, the system level people, and the data center design people – everything together – we’re never going to get the efficiency levels, the performance levels, or the sustainability levels that we need.”

What needs to be put into practice is a holistic view of sustainability, where we look to combine more than just one or two environmentally responsible practices together. When the process and design of the facility start with considering all of these things together, the outcome is significantly more impactful:

  • Power
    • Utilize renewable energy:
      • Hydroelectric
      • Solar
      • Geothermal
      • Nuclear (where available)
    • Consider how this renewable energy power impacts the local grid: can you give back power to the local municipality if you overproduce? 
    • Can you prevent the over-build of power infrastructure by considering alternatives to using diesel generators or bulk storage as backup?
  • Cooling/Water Consumption
    • What cooling alternatives are available that can reduce or eliminate reliance on chemical coolants (hint: consider a water-cooled facility with Nautilus).
    • Consider partnering with municipalities to be a positive impact utilizing the existing water system: using grey water or existing bodies of water.
  • Land/Zoning
  • Density
    • Increase density with advanced technology (which is also improved by using liquid cooling rather than traditional methods).
  • Size
    • With the rapid onset of the cloud and the same advanced technology that supports increased density, the need for hyperscale facilities is breaking down. This allows you to take advantage of smaller data centers, and even multiple small, spread-out facilities.
  • Supply chain management

 

Sustainable data centers are only going to become the norm, so pulling out of the myopic view of implementing environmentally friendly practices and applying sustainable thinking across every aspect of your data center operations is critical not only to the Earth but to support your business’ success.

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Chad Romine

Chad Romine has over two decades of experience in technical and strategic business development. As Vice President of Business Development for Nautilus Data Technologies, Mr. Romine brings global connectivity to some of the most prominent global influencers in technology. Mr. Romine has led startups and under-performing companies to successful maturity built largely upon solid partnerships. Proven results in negotiating mutually beneficial strategic alliances and joint ventures. Outside of work, Chad has invested time fundraising for the American Cancer Society. Mr. Romine recently helped secure funding and led marketing for the completion of a new private University.

Ashley Sturm

Ashley Sturm is a marketing and strategy leader with more than 15 years of experience developing strategic marketing initiatives to increase brand affinity, shape the customer experience, and grow market share. As the Vice President of Marketing at Nautilus Data Technologies, Ashley is responsible for all global marketing initiatives; she integrates the corporate strategy, marketing, branding, and customer experience to best serve clients and produce real business results. Before joining Nautilus Data Technologies, she served as the Senior Director of Marketing Brand and Content for NTT Global Data Centers Americas, spearheading marketing efforts to open two out of six data center campuses. Prior to NTT, Ashley led global marketing through the startup of Vertiv’s Global Data Center Solutions business unit, where she developed the unit’s foundational messaging and established global and regional marketing teams. Ashley’s career experience includes extensive work with the US Navy through the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness as well as broadcast journalism. Ashley earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in converged media from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism.

Paul Royere

Paul Royere is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Nautilus Data Technologies. For more than twenty years, he has specialized in finance and administration leadership for emerging technology companies, guiding them through high growth commercialization. In addition to senior team roles guiding strategic business operations, Mr. Royere has directed cross-functional teams in implementing business support systems, designing and measuring business plan performance, leading pre/post-merger activities, and delivering requisite corporate, tax and audit compliance.

While at 365 Data Centers, Mr. Royere served as Vice President of Finance leading a multi-discipline restructuring in preparation for the successful sale of seventeen data centers. As Vice President and Corporate Controller at Reliance Globalcom, Royere led the finance and business support teams to and through the conversion from a privately held company to a subsidiary of an international public conglomerate.

Arnold Magcale

Arnold Magcale is founder and Chief Technology Officer of Nautilus Data Technologies. As a recognized leader and respected visionary in the technology industry, he specializes in data center infrastructure, high-availability networks, cloud design, and Software as a Service (SaaS) Technology.

While serving on the management team of Exodus Communications, he launched one of Silicon Valley’s first data centers. Mr. Magcale’s background includes executive positions at Motorola Mobility, where his team deployed the first global Droid devices, and LinkSource Technologies and The Quantum Capital Fund, serving as Chief Technology Officer. He was an early adopter and implementer of Cloud Computing and a member of the team at Danger, Inc., acquired by Microsoft.


Mr. Magcale had a distinguished ten year career in the United States Navy Special Forces. His military and maritime expertise provided the foundation for inventing the world’s first commercial waterborne data center.

Patrick Quirk

Patrick Quirk is a business and technology executive who specializes in operations management, strategic partnerships, and technology leadership in data center, telecommunications, software, and semiconductor markets. Prior to joining Nautilus, he spent the past year working with small businesses and non-profits on survival and growth strategies in addition to PE advisory roles for critical infrastructure acquisitions. Quirk was the President of Avocent Corp, a subsidiary of Vertiv, the Vice President and General Manager for the IT Systems business, and the VP/GM of Converged Systems at Emerson Network Power, providing data center management infrastructure for data center IT, power, and thermal management products. He has held numerous global leadership roles in startups and large multinational companies including LSI and Motorola in the networking and semiconductor markets.

Rob Pfleging

Most recently, Rob was the Senior Vice President of Global Solutions at Vertiv Co, formerly Emerson Network Power. Vertiv Co is an international company that designs, develops and maintains critical infrastructures that run vital applications in data centers, communication networks and commercial and industrial facilities. Rob was responsible for the global solutions line of business at ​​Vertiv, which serves the Americas, Europe and Asia. Prior to Vertiv, Rob was the Vice President of Expansion and Innovation, Datacenter Engineering at CenturyLink, where he was responsible for 55 datacenters across North America, Europe and Asia. Before working for CenturyLink, Rob was the Executive Director of Computer/Data Center Operations at Mercy, where he led datacenter engineering and operations, desktop field services, call center services, and asset management and logistics for more than 40 hospitals. Before fulfilling this mission at Mercy, Rob held various engineering management and sales positions at Schneider Electric. Rob Pfleging additionally served for 6 years in the United States Marine Corps.

James Connaughton

James Connaughton is a globally distinguished energy, environment, technology expert, as both corporate leader and White House policymaker. Mr. Connaughton is the CEO of Nautilus Data Technologies, a high-performance, ultra-efficient, and sustainable data center infrastructure company powered by its proprietary water-cooling system. Before joining Nautilus Data Technologies, he served as Executive Vice President of C3.ai, a leading enterprise AI software provider for accelerating digital transformation.

From 2009-2013, Mr. Connaughton was Executive Vice President and a member of the Management Committee of Exelon and Constellation Energy, two of America’s cleanest, competitive suppliers of electricity, natural gas, and energy services. In 2001, Mr. Connaughton was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate to serve as Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. He served as President George W. Bush’s senior advisor on energy, environment, and natural resources, and as Director of the White House Office of Environmental Policy. During his eight-year service, Mr. Connaughton worked closely with the President, the Cabinet, and the Congress to develop and implement energy, environment, natural resource, and climate change policies. An avid ocean conservationist, Mr. Connaughton helped establish four of the largest and most ecologically diverse marine resource conservation areas in the world.

Mr. Connaughton is a member of the Advisory Board of the ClearPath Foundation and serves as an Advisor to X (Google’s Moonshot Factory) and Shine Technologies, a medical and commercial isotope company. He is also a member of the Board of Directors at the Resources for the Future and a member of the Advisory Boards at Yale’s Center on Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia’s Global Center on Energy Policy.