Onnec: Building Future-Proof Data Centre Strategies

Data Centre Magazine speaks with Onnec’s Niklas Lindqvist and Matt Salter about the future of sustainable data centres and how to harness the power of AI

As the data centre industry continues to boom, so does the need for processing power. 

Given the current climate of intensifying customer demands, data centres are having to focus their attention on meeting needs whilst keeping environmental impacts as low as possible. This often involves harnessing a range of new solutions such as liquid cooling to innovate responsibly. 

In this exclusive interview, Data Centre Magazine speaks with leading Onnec executives, Niklas Lindqvist, General Manager Nordics and Matt Salter, Data Centre Director. They discuss how the data centre sector can navigate complex demands for artificial intelligence (AI), in addition to reducing carbon footprint.

Increasing demand requires a ‘holistic’ approach

Like many other data centre organisations, Onnec is experiencing a time of unprecedented demand for its services. To confront this, the company is focusing on holistic data centre design to navigate the complexities of disruptive technologies like AI.

“With AI and machine learning, as well as whatever comes next, operators need to start thinking holistically about how to build data centres that can adapt and scale,” Matt Salter says. “A more holistic approach to design ensures a complete view of every aspect of the data centre. This requires thinking strategically about anticipated future demand before having any design conversations. 

Niklas Lindqvist too explains that investing in areas like high-quality cabling are necessary in order to ensure that data centres are operating seamlessly and can continue to upscale.

“While some aspects like power and cooling have traditionally taken the spotlight, areas like cabling infrastructure are often sidelined at the design stage, causing hurdles for future scalability,” he comments. “Data centres must consider the bigger picture at the design stage and understand that cutting corners now can lead to long-term challenges.”

He adds: “With the AI and machine learning revolution in full swing, we’re supporting customers to futureproof data centres to ensure they're not just efficient today but ready to adapt to whatever tomorrow throws at them.”

Matt comments: “Once this future demand has been imagined, operators can develop a shared long-term vision with stakeholders to build sites that are well suited to rising demand, but also cater for AI and non-AI customers.”

Balancing innovation with sustainability

New challenges require new solutions and, as Niklas explains, data centre operators need to integrate eco-friendly practices into their operations in order to balance innovation with sustainability.

“As businesses become more environmentally aware, they're looking for data centres that align with their green goals,” he says. “This means data centres must track and minimise emissions throughout their supply chain – measuring Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions – to stay competitive and retain clients who prioritise sustainability.”

“With most investors putting their money into green data centres, addressing emissions is crucial for securing funding and maintaining market value. Embracing new tech like AI can help spot inefficiencies and enable practices like resource recycling – which are vital for reducing environmental footprints, and staying in line with sustainable business practices.”

Indeed, AI use is a new energy challenge for data centres to overcome, as it puts them under greater levels of pressure to increase energy efficiencies. Some of the solutions that operators are turning to are liquid cooling and renewable energy sources which, although positive changes, do not solve the problem straight away.

“While integrating green technology can help meet customer requirements – and get ahead of upcoming regulatory changes – it is driving data centres to undergo expensive renovations and retrofits, well before their planned end-of-life,” Matt adds. “To help ease this burden, operators must embrace a holistic design approach for flexibility in infrastructure, and use AI to optimise energy use and spot waste reduction opportunities.”

Harnessing the power of AI to champion data centre growth

AI is reshaping the data centre industry. Already, it is generating vast amounts of data through processing and analysis tasks, in addition to processing demands. 

As a result, data centres are having to update their existing services and infrastructure in order to remain competitive, in addition to serving customer demands.

When asking about how data centres can harness AI better, Matt Salter suggests that operators need to optimise their infrastructure to efficiently handle increasing data loads.

“This means investing in GPU-powered racks and bespoke infrastructure tailored to AI-compute, and ensuring high-quality materials to support the heightened demands of AI-compute,” he says.

“Cabling plays a critical role here. By prioritising cabling solutions that enable plug-and-play hardware integration, operators can be empowered to meet AI demand and streamline operations. This approach helps extend data centre lifespan, minimising waste and maximising efficiency amidst escalating demand.”

Niklas adds: “Leveraging AI tools within data centre operations can lead to significant efficiency gains, like predictive maintenance and energy optimisation. By embracing AI, data centre operators can ensure they’re at the forefront of a rapidly changing digital landscape.

“Additionally, investing in scalable infrastructure to accommodate increased workloads, optimising data processing workflows to efficiently handle AI workloads, as well as prioritising data security and compliance, can offer huge advantages.”

Onnec: Powering a sustainable future

As a leading technology partner, Onnec boasts more than 30 years of experience and an 800+ global team of technical experts to offer end-to-end connectivity solutions worldwide. These offerings extend across structured cabling, networking and connected devices, offering complete solutions for businesses in large data centres.

Now, the company is involved in lessening their carbon footprint. Speaking on company strategy, Niklas highlights that Onnec’s mantra is about being a global partner at a local scale. 

“While our reach extends worldwide, we prioritise working with regional suppliers and partners, instead of flying teams of experts around the world. We’ve invested in finding and employing local talent to help deliver this,” he says.

“We’re also working with environmentally conscious suppliers across all our projects to help improve the carbon footprint of data centre customers – which is particularly important as customers look to comply with regulations such as the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive

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