Equinix and Colotraq: joint data centre pioneers
Jules Johnston is Vice President, Americas Partner Sales at data centre company Equinix. Having joined in early 2016, she has overseen a move to new sales channels as part of the company’s work. “The team we've put together in the last few years has helped the company go from what was single digits in terms of partner-connected selling to something greater than 30% of our bookings globally,” she says. “We're on a committed path to do the majority of our business with partners, so it's been very exciting to be part of that. The team I lead today is the 40-person Americas partner sales organisation, and our job is to work with partners and enable their collaboration with our field and inside sellers to jointly serve shared customers.”
While Equinix is renowned as a co-location and data centre organisation, Johnston is clear that the company takes a broader view. “We really think of ourselves as an interconnection company and as the global platform for digital business. When companies build their digital infrastructure and platforms within Equinix, what they're able to do is dynamically connect to the world's largest ecosystem of clouds, data, suppliers and customers.” Constructing such an ecosystem has required a significant amount of infrastructure. “Equinix has invested in over 210 data centres around the world, or international business exchanges, IBXs, as we call them. That allows Equinix to be able to consistently deliver on the digital strategy needs of any company who is either global today or aspires to be.”
Equinix works closely with colocation broker Colotraq, with the organisation having been one of Equinix’s master agents for around five years. “Colotraq is a fellow pioneer in the data center space,” says Johnston. “As one of the oldest master agents in telecom, they’ve intersected with us naturally. Equinix started as a place for the world's networks to come together in a neutral fashion and Colotraq also prides itself on being network neutral.”
The partnership extends far beyond the surface level, with Colotraq agents and Equinix solutions architects jointly meeting with customers to advise on digital edge strategy briefings. “One of the places that we collaborate is in helping customers with their network optimisation strategies,” says Johnston. “We have the largest collection of networks in the world in Equinix data centers, and Colotraq advises companies on optimising their network strategies and spend. We've had a really long, productive association given that overlap.”
Incoming trends such as 5G, AI, IoT, blockchain and more all signal a bright future for Equinix and its cloud offering, with the company continuing to prove invaluable for customers even during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Equinix was able to help a global financial powerhouse stand up 120,000 employees remotely in just three days. In this current climate, companies have a real need for that sort of flexibility and we're able to use our digital platform to help companies make those kinds of moves.”
NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions.
The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)
The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express.
Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”.
The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said.
Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.
How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?
According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool.
Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers.
The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said.
The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.