IM Local Edition – Phoenix
An Infrastructure Masons Local Edition Phoenix Meetup was held on April 27, 2017 at Aligned Energy in Phoenix, AZ. About 30 iMasons attended, a mix of partners and end users.
The agenda included an overview of Aligned Energy by Jake Carnemark; an introduction to iMasons and the Data Center Performance Index (DCPI) by iMasons founder Dean Nelson; a breakout session on the DCPI; and a breakout session on the IM Fund.
Overview of Aligned Energy
The Phoenix meetup was hosted by the infrastructure technology company Aligned Energy, one of the Infrastructure Masons founding partners. Aligned Energy founder and CTO Jake Carnemark briefly introduced meetup attendees to the adaptive data center.
- Aligned Energy is working with iMasons on getting the industry together to drive higher delta Ts, higher densities, and greater sustainability.
- Jake is excited about working with iMasons to promote better standardized efficiency on PUE and on reliability (“there’s room to go beyond Tier levels”).
Introduction to iMasons and the Data Center Performance Index (DCPI)
- “The world is changing.” Example of IPSoft, where the iMasons NY meeting was in March. IPSoft is a “digital labor company” – essentially an AI call center. This and many other examples of digital innovation point to the punch line: “We’re in the right industry.” Our “addiction to immediate things isn’t going to stop” and of course that goes into data center – “it’s computed by what we’re building and operating.”
- On the DCPI, Dean explained that he thinks about it from the perspective of an end-user (which he is at Uber): “When we expand, what is it that we’re actually getting? I have SLAs, availability numbers in my contracts but I don’t know the historical performance of the data center. I’ve been in lots of data centers with failures, data centers with 100% uptime performance – across Tier 1, 2, 3, 4 data centers. Can we get a metric that shows the actual performance of the data center?” That’s what the DCPI is designed for.
- For each of the three categories (Availability, Efficiency, Environmental), the data center gets a letter grade. So the grade could be AAA, ABB, ABA, etc.
- IM Local Edition sessions in CA, CO, and NY tuned the DCPI framework before it was published on April 20, 2017. Now the goal is to get even more detailed proposals from iMasons within the categories of PUE and WUE, availability, and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
- A draft version of the DCPI included renewable energy intensity, but now has shifted to just understanding GHG emissions associated with the data center. “We’re starting a movement on that.”
Table from page 10 of the April 20, 2017 DCPI Thoughts paper
Breakout session on the DCPI
Dean kicked off the first breakout session with an explanation of the intention behind the efficiency metric of the DCPI:
- The premise is that we shouldn’t be giving As to data centers that just meet the ASHRAE standards.
- iMasons goal is to develop a standard that doesn’t require so much digging on the end-user’s part and is legally binding for the data center provider. iMasons envisions that data center providers report their historical data in the RFP and then sign a “representation of warranty” that the numbers are truthful, factual, and legally representable. iMasons wants data centers to be legally responsible for the numbers they claim.
Meetup attendees spent about 45 minutes discussing within their roundtables two questions specifically: 1) Do we want to call out N and 2N distinctions? 2) What do we believe is the appropriate target % above and below the ASHRAE 90.4 PUE (MLC & ELC)? Afterward, each table shared a recap of its discussion. A summary of those responses follows:
1) Do we want to call out N and 2N distinctions?
- “The vast majority of people who would be using the DCPI standard are in an N world so there’s no need to confuse things or dilute the standard by splitting it into two grades.”
- “There are so many permutations it doesn’t make sense to have distinctions.”
- “Don’t make it too complicated. Too many distinctions will confuse people.”
- “N and 2N relates to reliability and talking about reliability should be separate.”
- “Separate N and 2N based on how people operate facilities.”
- “Because you don’t want to complicate things.” But ASHRAE numbers were “surprising.” “Old data center convention says 2N is less efficient but the delta between ASHRAE’s PUE standards across 2N/N categories is just 2% (e.g. 2N is only 2% higher than N). At 50% load ASHRAE has 2N as less efficient but at 100% load 2N is actually more efficient; delta was 4%.”
- “Let the distinction stand. Don’t change ASHRAE categories. N, 2N, N+1 gives ability for topologies to have higher head end.”
2) What do we believe is the appropriate target % above and below the ASHRAE 90.4 PUE (MLC & ELC)?
- “At least a 20% differential [20% under ASHRAE based on climate zone and load]. If the whole world gets an A then we screwed up and it will take 5 years to fix it. Better to err on the other side: if it’s too hard to get an A people will realize it and say ‘B is really damn good.’”
- “ASHRAE’s numbers don’t make a lot of sense. The spread between climate zones doesn’t make sense; there should be a larger spread in PUE between climate zones – e.g. Singapore v. Washington would have larger spread. If you take Phoenix [climate zone 2] and benchmark for an A, that would be a 1.25. That’s 62% below ASHRAE’s numbers. What’s a D in Phoenix? 2.0, which is 50% above ASHRAE’s numbers. So for the range A to D it’s 62% below to 50% above ASHRAE. But it should be more varied than ASHRAE across climate regions.”
- “It needs to be attainable but encourage data centers to reach a goal – not everyone should get As. Instead of specifying maximum PUE, use a range that varies by region.”
- “60% less than ASHRAE.”
- “ASHRAE standards are quite lax. Should be 20% better. To get an A rating you should be head and shoulders above the rest and AHSRAE already gives latitude.”
- “The PUE that we should strive for as a group should be well below ASHRAE. Climate zone gives AHSRAE a lot of attitude already. Let’s push the envelope, do better. 15%+ better than ASHRAE as a target.”
In addition to the breakout table discussions and subsequent report out, there was a robust discussion on the efficiency metric of the DCPI, including about:
- How the data is validated
- Availability zones (e.g., What if the provider is building a new data hall for the customer?)
- How to distinguish between DCPI and Tier rating
- How a data center is rated on availability (e.g., How to account for single-corded tenants?)
- Time periods for DCPI grading
Full details of first breakout session discussions are available to Infrastructure Masons members (see “Get More” below).
Breakout session on the IM Fund
In the second breakout session, meetup attendees were given 40 minutes to discuss within their roundtables two questions about the IM Fund: 1) What are the things the IM Fund should invest in? 2) How should this process be governed? Afterward, each table shared a recap of its discussion. A summary of those responses follows:
1) What are the things the IM Fund should invest in?
- “Use the resources we have in this group for a mentorship program and apprenticeship program.”
- “Put money to developing/partnering with low-income schools.”
- “Develop local STEM programs to bring in K-12 students. Cultivate passion toward STEM education, sustainability.”
- “Set up a lab environment that could be used by high schools, colleges to create infrastructure systems, work with real systems to get actual hands-on exposure.”
- “Develop a free online college (“iMasons University”) where professors are iMasons. Have a blog and chat room for peer advice. Technical challenge with prize in two categories: 1) individual with mentor; 2) college programs to produce innovations.”
- “Donate technical equipment to emerging markets – e.g. for a lab in school where kids can start getting interest (e.g. working data center models).”
- “Instead of creating scholarships/programs, create a program with online university that could be broadly reaching. Then iMasons help to develop curriculum – ‘write the book.’ iMasons could develop curriculum around sustainability, including safety.”
- “Create a data center innovation incubator; iMasons colocation data centers could be host incubator sites. We love the idea around incubating innovators.”
- “Fund new tech projects through Kickstarter-like program.”
- “Scholarship fund for technicians.”
- “Kickstarter/GoFundMe campaign to fund people who are interested in the data center industry.”
- “Use our stewardship to visit schools, get involved with community.”
- “Leverage our network. Lobby corporate stewardship toward development and understanding of what it takes to operate mission critical assets. For example, a STEM program that can be deployed regionally.”
- “Spread awareness outside the industry with events like Facebook’s hackathon (call it ‘infrathon’).”
- “Develop operations training partners in other countries; there is a similar issue in other countries where there’s even less awareness.”
- “Get in front of IT professionals.” “Have a booth at big show, etc.”
- “Leverage co-marketing opportunities with other influential companies.” “Hire a CMO.”
- “Sponsor events like Science Olympiad.”
- “Get university students or other school kids to data center.”
- “Awareness and training programs at the middle school and high school levels.”
- “Develop a technician entry portal/outreach.”
- “Infrastructure employment exchange to find people to do these jobs.”
- “Look to leverage national resource opportunities like the National Science Foundation. Invest some money into governance itself and find ways to get people who understand how to get grants. For example, hire grant writers to leverage these external funding sources – people who understand the system well enough to get money. That would amplify what iMasons could do and it doesn’t take that much money to hire a grant writer.”
- “Build kits like TEDx – to teach people in local chapters how to do it, then the program feeds itself.”
- “Learn how other industries are attracting and retaining talent.”
- “Investment initiative in depressed economies like Detroit.”
- “Water resourcing in arid places to bring awareness to water issues in data center industry.”
- “Support sustainability change leaders within organizations (not the Googles, Ubers, etc.) because it always starts with person or a few people and it’s really challenging for them to get initiatives approved. So how do we support those initial change makers within organizations that might be more resistant than, e.g. Google, to change?”
- “Clean water fund like Tom’s shoes – for every gallon of water you use, put $0.10 into fund that would fund clean water.”
- “Fund studies on related topics – e.g. water use to create electricity (National Renewable Energy Labs study in 2004) – fund updates to those kinds of studies.”
- “Charitable element should remain in the mix. It’s important to give back. For example, a survivor’s fund for families of data center professionals killed on the job. Could have ‘automatic’ donation to individual hurt or family of person killed.”
2) How should this process be governed?
- “Build program and have national liaison to manage it and divide that regionally, with regional hubs ideally located in the more data center-dense cities of the U.S.”
- “Governance through regional chapters of iMasons; regional chapters propose ideas up to the governance board – so there’s local vetting.”
- “Chapter involvement. Don’t dictate top down because regions vary especially internationally. Empower versus dictate.”
- “Need to have local/regional level governance.”
- “A few people to monitor and maintain with voting public.”
- “Surveys/polls for ideas across membership group.”
- “Vote of membership.”
- “iMasons membership would nominate and pick a charity together.”
- “Majority rules at board level.”
- “Is there are opportunity for an arms length external group to manage the actual investment? Then we could get external funding not just from iMasons.”
- “Voting board and committee.”
- “Board of governors with governors serving on 2-year terms.”
Full details of the second breakout session discussions are available to Infrastructure Masons members (see “Get More” below).
After the meetup, Infrastructure Masons were invited to attend a panel discussion on the future of the data center featuring Dean Nelson, Jake Carnemark, and Julie Albright, at the newly opened Aligned Data Centers Phoenix facility.
Detailed notes from the session are available in the iMasons’ collaboration system. If you attended a Local Edition session, you should have an account. If you have trouble accessing your collaboration account, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our next Local Meet Up is scheduled for Thursday, September 28th from 1-6pm in Dallas, Texas. Learn more and register here.
Event attendance is limited to iMasons members. If you’re not already a member, learn the benefits of joining at https://imasons.org/join/.