Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

Four Elements to Consider for High-Density Data Centers

Speed to market, flexibility, and scalability have become mission-critical for hyperscale platforms and large enterprises when expanding or upgrading existing infrastructure.

Industry Perspectives

March 25, 2019

4 Min Read
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Andrew Schaap is Chief Executive Officer of Aligned Energy.

Meteoric growth and unprecedented scalability demands are outpacing what high capacity data center customers, such as cloud and platform providers and enterprise organizations, want to produce in their own facilities. Moreover, when expanding into existing or new markets, predicting usage and growth models is becoming a complex endeavor fraught with a variety of bottom line risk factors for these organizations.

To solve for this, some companies roll the dice and overprovision, thus increasing CapEx and OpEx. Meanwhile, others may simply be unable to build or obtain data center capacity quickly enough, where and when they need it, thus hamstringing new revenue-generating initiatives. Another challenge these organizations face is that compute loads are becoming more dynamic since capacity demand can vary quarterly or even project by project.

Lastly, but certainly not least, these high capacity customers are affected by the challenge of fulfilling environmental and sustainability mandates — a good thing, to be sure, given the industry’s shared responsibility to become better stewards of the planet. According to a recent study by Dell EMC, the data center industry is consuming 200 terawatt-hours of power each year, the equivalent of one-tenth of the total energy usage worldwide. But it’s not just the tech behemoths that are consuming so much energy; it’s not uncommon for a single data center serving a large enterprise to use the same amount of electricity as a small town.

The good news is that an IHS Markit survey found that internally these organizations are increasingly driven by potential energy cost savings or sustainability policies, while externally they are more and more motivated by their customers’ desire for doing business with companies that have environmentally friendly practices. Additionally, the pursuit of tax incentives and subsidies from governments that proffer a carrot not a stick has become a motivating influence.

Across this business landscape, speed-to-market, flexibility and scalability have become mission-critical for hyperscalers, cloud and platform providers when expanding or upgrading existing infrastructure. The solution to their needs is an adaptive data center platform underpinned by four key elements that can be referred to as Velocity, Scalability, Adaptability, and Sustainability. At Aligned, we like to call this VSASTM.


The first, Velocity, speaks to the need of a supply chain methodology with readily available inventory for rapid deployment, and comprised of prefabricated, factory-built and tested power and cooling equipment. Ideally, this would include a standardized electrical kit and complete cooling inventory program ranging from heat rejection to heat absorption. Reducing the risk of inflated capital and operational expenses caused by extended project timelines and downstream equipment troubleshooting is also very much predicated on being able to access a broad and highly experienced talent pool.


Scalability encompasses providing cooling technology that allows customers to deploy infrastructure where and when they need it, and reconfigure quickly and seamlessly — usually within the same footprint — as their requirements change. By this means, cloud and SaaS providers as well as large enterprises can scale workload densities in place without having to reconfigure existing infrastructure, disperse equipment, or require large-scale investments to augment floors for increasing heat loads. Customers can initiate at one density profile and scale up without disruption, all while maintaining industry-leading Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).


Adaptability signifies empowering customers to be able to future-proof their IT environments with adaptable infrastructure that can be deployed quickly as needed (and reconfigured seamlessly, if necessary) as their businesses grow. Again, a nimble, standardized supply chain, combined with incrementally scalable technology, provides the solution to the challenge of unpredictable usage and growth models.


And finally, sustainability addresses providing a data center platform that assists companies to deliver greater business value with less costly energy and infrastructure resources.  While we don’t pretend that the world’s environmental challenges will be solved overnight, we salute the efforts of Google, Apple and others to lead the sector in matching their growth with an equivalent or larger supply of renewable energy, as recognized by Greenpeace. And we join them in advocating increased access to renewable energy resources for their operations now and into the future.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating

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