The DCD data center podcast, brought to you every two weeks in partnership with Vertiv

  • Episode 17 - The impact of climate legislation on digital infrastructure with Stephen Harper, global director of Intel

    After a hiatus of several years, climate change policy is taking off in the US, with the Biden-Harris Administration using the Inflation Reduction Act and the Energy Earthshot to accelerate the clean energy economy.

    But data center energy policy goes back a lot further than that. Stephen Harper, Intel's Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, was there 20 years ago when data centers first came onto the climate change radar, and he's been tracking progress since then.

    As well as their own emissions "footprint", data centers have a positive impact on emissions elsewhere, known as the environmental "handprint"

    But how do we measure that handprint, and set it against the negative impact of infrastructure.

    And coming after this backstory, just what impact of these Biden-Harris initiatives have?

    DCD speaks to Stephen about the likely impact of historic climate legislation for the digital infrastructure sector.

  • Episode 16 - Green software with David Mytton, CEO and co-founder of Console

    Efforts to reduce the environmental impact of our digital world tend to start with the cooling systems at data centers, and rarely get any further.

    The tech industry created PUE as a simple metric which could express how efficiently power is delivered to the racks, but did not consider what happens to that power when it gets there.

    That’s not good enough, because poorly written software could be wasting that power in unnecessary loops and fruitless calculations.

    The Green Software Foundation has emerged to propose a measure of Software Carbon Intensity that will tell developers if their software is a good planetary citizen.

    But this is an issue that gets more complex, the more you look at it. Software that completes quickly must save energy, but what if the software is running on multiple hardware platforms? What about the embodied energy of the hardware you choose for it?

    David Mytton is Co-founder & CEO of Console, a company that makes tools for developers. He’s also looked at the energy used in technology, bothy at Imperial College and at the Uptime Institute.

    He’s now working on a PhD in sustainable computing at the University of Oxford.

    He talks to us about the prospects for Green Software finding its way from academic research, through sponsorship by large vendors, into the hands of developers and consumers.

  • Episode 15 - Tracking data center power use with LBNL's Dr. Arman Shehabi

    As grids around the world struggle to meet demand amid heatwaves and wars, data center power and water usage is increasingly coming under scrutiny. We talk to the researcher who has spent years trying to track the sector's consumption, so that regulators and companies alike can access accurate figures on a secretive sector.

  • Episode 14 - What it’s like building facilities for Google with Sarah Godbehere

    What's it like building facilities for Google, in the epicenter of data center construction - Northern Virginia?  Sarah Godbehere has spent the last three years managing construction on a Google campus in Northern Virginia. She tells us what it's like to be a young woman in an industry full of older men, and shares how she turns potential conflicts by asking the right questions.

  • Episode 13 - Carbon accounting and 24x7 green energy with Simone Accornero, FlexiDAO

    When a data center firm claims to be 100 percent carbon neutral, can we believe them?  Does every electron used in that data come from a solar panel or a wind farm?   Until we have reliable carbon accounting, we won't know for sure, and operators will continue to rely on renewable energy certificates (RECs) which match energy consumption over a year, instead of hour by hour.

    Simone Accornero, CEO of FlexiDAO says we need "RECs on steroids" to move to hourly carbon accounting, and a blockchain-based protocol can deliver this without costing the earth in energy overheads.

    Data centers are a small part of the global electricity market, Accornero says they are ideally suited to drive that market to better carbon accounting, and renewable generation which better matches electricity consumption.

  • Episode 12 - Sustainability-linked financing and data centers, with Aligned’s Matthew Chambliss

    As sustainability continues to become an increasingly important issue for data center owners and operators, many are tying their financing into ESG-related goals. The likes of Green Bonds see proceeds going towards specific green projects, while Sustainability-Linked Loans see interest payments tied to specific targets such as PUE or water use.

    Such financing options have been adopted by cloud and data center companies including Equinix, Digital Realty, Atos, Baidu, AirTrunk, and telcos such as Telefonica, NTT, and Verizon.   

    US operator Aligned’s whole debt pile – more than $3 billion –  is entirely made up of sustainable-tied financing. Aligned’s VP of Finance, Matthew Chambliss discusses the company’s reasoning and journey to adopting sustainable financing.

  • Episode 11 - Understanding Bitcoin power use after the crypto crash, with Alex de Vries

    Cryptocurrency valuations are in freefall, causing mining to halve. But Bitcoin still consumes as much power as entire nations, amid a climate emergency. We talk to Digiconomist's Alex de Vries about the history of crypto, the crash, and learn just how much power the sector uses - and what it means for the planet.

  • Episode 10 - Working from home during the lockdown, with Alex Cruz Farmer, ThousandEyes

    Working from home expanded massively during the pandemic - but were we ready for such a massive change? The proportion of remote workers grew from 17% of all employees worldwide in 2019 to 32% but the companies weren't fully ready for the change and collaboration tools were often pushed beyond what they were designed for. 

    Alex Cruz Farmer of Cisco ThousandEyes has the tools to look objectively at the user experience and talks to us about how we can improve it.

  • Episode 9 - Hydrogen with Mark Monroe, Microsoft

    The world needs hydrogen as part of the replacement for fossil fuels - and data centers could be the catalyst for that.  

    Mark Monroe, Principal Engineer at Microsoft, explains how the hydrogen economy works. He shows us that hydrogen is not just a proven alternative to diesel for backup, but brings other benefits with it. 

    If data centers switch this small part of their energy needs to hydrogen, this could enable much larger industries to get started - and catalyze a hydrogen economy

  • Episode 8 - The data center gender gap with Jacqueline van de Werken, Leaseweb

    In this episode of the Zero Downtime podcast, we speak to Leaseweb general counsel Jacqueline van de Werken about how to encourage more women in the data center and cloud industry, and how to retain those that do join.

  • Episode 7 - Biodiversity & bees with Michelle Wallace, Host in Ireland

    It's easy to think that sustainable data centers are all about reducing carbon. In fact the earth faces a biodiversity crisis as big as the climate crisis. Data centers can have a role in fighting to prevent extinctions, and produce a lot of other benefits in the process.

    When you build a data center, you have to see the unintended consequences, says Michelle Wallace of data center promotion group Host In Ireland. Build badly, and local species will suffer. But it's also easy to get it wrong, to put in measures that don't help.

    Host in Ireland went to Ireland's National Biodiversity Data Centre, found how important pollinators are, and put together a set of actions to protect and promote them, DCs for Bees is now having influence beyond Ireland, and beyond the data center industry.

    It's being followed up with a scheme to plant orchards - and there are more ideas beyond that.

    This is the Zero Downtime episode which could make your data center into a haven for nature, and change your life for the better!

  • Episode 6 - Astrid Wynne Rogers, TechBuyer

    Data center operators who want to be sustainable tend to focus in on carbon - but there are a lot more elements in the Periodic Table, And as we progress towards sustainability, we are going to have to consider all of them.

    In this podcast, Astrid Wynne Rogers, sustainability lead at TechBuyer tells us why we should pay close attention to the lifecycle of our physical servers and the other equipment in our facilities.

    It takes a lot of materials and energy to make equipment, and keeping it out of the waste stream could avoid wasting those resources. But there's more to it than sticking it in a skip for recycling. The circular economy has to join up. With a value put on refurbished equipment, and people actively working to reuse and extend that kit.

    It used to be said that replacing old kit with new always saved energy, because Moore's law meant the new equipment was much faster. That is no longer the case, and TechBuyer did the research to prove it.

    TechBuyer's paper is available here from IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Computing or here from Techbuyer.

    Want another reason to increase your hardware's life?  It's a powerful way to reduce "Scope 3" emissions from your supply chain. And you can't get to Net Zero without dealing with Scope 3.

  • Episode 5 - Holland Barry, Cyxtera

    CTOs have traditionally been key positions for research-driven software and technology companies. As colocation companies increasingly move beyond merely serving space and power, the role of the CTO becomes more important.  

    Holland Barry, Field CTO for Cyxtera, discusses the role of the CTO and Field CTO at the company, the key skills required, and some of the interesting projects the company is working on.

    We also discuss the wider skills market and the shift from ‘dumb colo’ to service provider, and get a boots-on-the-ground view of Cyxtera’s journey to becoming a public company via a SPAC merger.

  • Bonus Episode: Understanding Internet Connectivity in Ukraine & Russia, with Kentik's Doug Madory

    DCD talks to Doug Madory, the director of Internet analysis at Kentik, about the developing situation in Ukraine and Russia. We discuss telco disruptions, misinformation, false BGP hijacks, Cogent and Lumen's disconnection claims, whether Russia could drop off from the Internet, and more.

  • Episode 4 - Wes Swenson, Novva Data Centers

    Data center automation is one thing, but what about automatons walking in the data halls? Robots in the data center are often discussed but rarely make it beyond the pilot project stage. Those that are deployed are often closer to Short Circuit’s Johnny 5 than Neill Blomkamp's CHAPPiE.

    Utah-based Novva data centers has deployed Boston Dynamics' Spot robot dog – possibly the most advanced robot that is currently commercially available – at its flagship data center and is looking to create a replicable and scalable model for deploying robots in its other current and future facilities. DCD discusses the pains of deploying a robot that is still a way off enterprise-ready plug-and-play with CEO Wes Swenson along with the lack of a wider support ecosystem for robotic deployments, and the future role of humans in the data center.

  • Episode 3 - Anders Andrae, Huawei Technologies

    Figures quoted in 2021 suggested that data centers and communications technology could use eight percent or even 20 percent of the world's electricity by 2030. That seemed too high to us, so we tracked down the original source of the quotes, only to find he feels the same way. Anders Andrae is an academic, currently working at Huawei's Swedish R&D center. Since his original 2015 paper he has revised his predictions down, but the old figures still often show up out of context. More importantly, he thinks we should be looking at the benefits of IT as well as the energy cost. He talks of a "handprint" that counter-balances the environmental "footprint." Andrae says the Internet saves far more emissions, through offering a digital alternative to physical services, than it consumes.

  • Episode 2 - Max Schulze, the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance

    Max Schulze is the founder of the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA), a group of stakeholders aiming to achieve a sustainable digital infrastructure by 2030. He thinks the answer to heat reuse is economics, not engineering.

    And when we've sorted that out, he foresees that the big cloud providers will be disaggregated, and the cloud will become the same kind of market as the electricity grid.

  • Episode 1 - Lex Coors, Interxion

    In the first episode of the DCD>Zero-Downtime podcast, we spoke to Lex Coors, Chief Data Center Technology & Engineering Officer at Digital Realty's Interxion, about his two decades at the company, from the early days, to the rise of cloud, and the recent Digital Realty acquisition. We also discussed sustainability efforts, the European energy crisis, and how to ensure that local communities don't turn against data centers.