Connectivity Whiz Lawson-Shanks Leaves EdgeConneX for Aligned

Data center provider Aligned Energy has named Phil Lawson-Shanks its chief development officer•The top connectivity expert joins Aligned after five years at EdgeConneX•Drawn by Aligned unique business model, enabled by its data center design, he appears to have been tapped to boost the company’s connectivity play

Bill Stoller

September 21, 2018

3 Min Read
Aligned Energy's data center in Phoenix
Aligned Energy's data center in PhoenixAligned Energy

DCK Investor Edge

Future-proofing data center campuses in the constantly shifting technology landscape is a challenge. Aligned Energy is approaching it in unique ways, which is what made the company attractive to Phil Lawson-Shanks, who recently left his role as chief innovation officer at EdgeConneX to join Aligned as chief development officer.

He joins a C-Suite that also includes CTO and vice chairman Jakob Carnemark, who co-founded the company, and CEO Andrew Schaap, a former Digital Realty executive who took Aligned’s reins last year.

The company describes solid connectivity attributes on its website – such as access to a variety of carriers and fast turn-up of network links – but overall, its connectivity play isn’t extraordinarily strong. Bringing on a seasoned tech executive from EdgeConneX, whose entire business revolves around connectivity, is likely a move by Aligned to grow muscle in this area.

Today’s customers value capabilities like software-defined WAN – particularly as executed by platforms like Megaport and PacketFabric, which provide software-enabled on-demand connectivity anywhere around the world – low-latency connections, and cloud onramps, Lawson-Shanks said in an interview with Data Center Knowledge this week.

Providing adjacent racks with different power densities (anywhere from 1kW to 50kW) is one way Aligned helps customers future-proof their data center footprint. It’s a wholesale data center provider, but its design has allowed it to accommodate deals as small as 300kW, the company’s executives told us last year. Lawson-Shanks said the company can now accommodate even smaller requirements, to the tune of 100kW, which is ideal for cloud edge nodes or network providers’ points of presence.

The company also offers what it calls "utilization curve pricing," meaning a customer can pay for the amount of capacity they use without having to reserve and pay for capacity they may need in the future. They can expand during their lease term as their needs change. It’s applying the virtual infrastructure-as-a-service model pioneered by public cloud providers to physical data center infrastructure.

So, a customer may land with as little as 100kW and expand to a multi-megawatt deployment if they need in the future.

Investor Edge

Several commercial real estate brokers told me last year that Aligned has an attractive TCO story for customers, big part of it being a willingness to enter into lease contracts based on a guaranteed 1.15 PUE in hot climates like Dallas and Phoenix.

Its value proposition appears to be gaining traction in the marketplace. The company has announced expansions in Phoenix, Dallas, Salt Lake City, and Northern Virginia, where it recently acquired a 26-acre property that can accommodate as much as 180MW of data center capacity.

It’s worth noting that the lawsuits competitor Switch filed against Aligned last year, accusing it of infringing on multiple Switch data center design patents, have been dismissed, according to an SEC form Switch filed this August.

It now appears to be full-steam ahead for Aligned, which is looking to expand in tier-one markets. In bringing on Lawson-Shanks, it gets one of the top visionaries in an area of technology that’s never been more critical to success in the data center provider industry: network connectivity.

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