Data Centre Review Autumn 2023

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Loughborough University drives IT

with EcoStruxureTM Data Centre Solutions Discover how Loughborough University partnered with Schneider Electric and its Elite Partner on365 for increased Reliability, Resiliency and more Sustainable operations.

Training & Skills

Critical Insight


Building education into business strategy

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Features 10 • Artificial Intelligence Karsten Winther, EMEA President at Vertiv, explains why the role of AI in cognitive infrastructure starts with smart energy.


12 • Training & Skills Andrew Stevens, President & CEO at CNet Training, outlines five reasons to build an education function into your core business strategy.

14 • Data Centre Design & Operation It’s time to take cable management seriously, writes Ben Roberts, Sales Director for RMS Cables.

16 • UPS David Bond, Chairman, Centiel UK, explores why we need to explore sustainable UPS designs for the sake of future generations.

18 • UPS Riello UPS’s Chris Cutler outlines the key questions data centre operators should ask to ensure they get the most out of their UPS maintenance plan.

21 • Modularity


Chris Sharp, CTO at Digital Realty, explores why modularity will be critical for data centres and the AI economy.


22 • Critical Insight After the success of the inaugural show, Critical Insight, the notto-be-missed event for the digital infrastructure sector, is set to return in November 2023.

24 • Cybersecurity Alexander Feick, Vice President, eSentire Labs, explores the role generative AI and LLMs play in cybersecurity.

26 • Sustainability Gregory Lebourg, Global Environment Director of OVHcloud, explains why radical transparency should drive data centre sustainability.


29 • Storage, Servers & Hardware Grant Lee of DapuStor explores how adopting solid-state drives for software-defined storage can boost sustainability and competitiveness for businesses.

Regulars 16 34 • Final Say Paul Morrison, HPC/AI Infrastructure Consultant and Venessa Moffat, DCA Advisory Board, delve into the potential of AI in data centres.


Editor’s Comment 2024 nips at our heels Writing this ed note always manages to somehow sneak up and surprise me every time it comes around. It feels like I’ve just sent the last one off to print when I’ve suddenly got another sitting on my desk – I’m not sure if that’s a sign of the fact that the years seem to be flying by now at an alarming pace, or just my encroaching senility. Probably the latter. Either way, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on what’s happened over the previous few months and the changes that have come about – and there have been a lot of them here at Data Centre Review. DCR might look a little different – and that’s because we’re changing the way we do things to meet the demand for more digitally-focused content. Hopefully you’ll have noticed the snazzy new look of our website, and you can expect to see more video interviews, webinars and online offerings. We’ll still be publishing three print magazines a year, but the latest thought leadership, opinion and news can all be found on a daily basis at Of course, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that November will see the return of Critical Insight. The event, which due to popular demand has grown to a three-day virtual show, will explore the key issues facing our sector. From diversity and the skills gap to sustainability, the cloud and cybersecurity, we’ll be diving deep into the issues that are driving the industry with the experts who are leading the change. It’s not too late to register and you can check out the agenda at Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions and comments – as always, you can reach me at, and find us on X (@dcrmagazine) and on LinkedIn (Data Centre Review). Kayleigh Hutchins, Editor


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Loughborough Uni drives IT and data centre efficiency with Schneider Electric Loughborough University has worked with Schneider Electric and its Elite Partners, on365, to ensure operational continuity for the university’s data centre and distributed IT environments. By modernising its infrastructure with the latest in resilient and energy efficient technologies and harnessing the power of data analytics and predictive maintenance, the university has future-proofed its campus to support its excellent research and academic reputation.


ith an attending student body of 19,500 across its 523-acre campus, Loughborough is one of the UK’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines. Today it is ranked number one in the world for sportsrelated subjects; Loughborough was named Sports University of the Year in 2022 by The Times and Sunday Times. IT is fundamental to the university, from its high-performance computing (HPC) servers, which support analytical research projects, to a highly virtualised data centre environment that provisions critical applications including finance, administration, and security. A primary example of this is the fire alarm system, which is mobilised by its data centre; any downtime would require a team to undertake continuous physical checks of all the university buildings – a tall order for such an extensive campus. IT also provides the student community with digital access to course materials, the ability to take exams online and the provision of internet services to campus halls of residence. At the same time, Loughborough’s IT department offers a range of services to support the intensive commercial research being undertaken at the university. “We pride ourselves on the quality of our students’ experience,” said Mark Newall, Senior IT Specialist at the University. “And one of the things that students really rely on is good IT infrastructure. We also want the research

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groups to be confident that their systems will be available exactly to their research requirements.” 70 years of data centre evolution Established in 1909, Loughborough University now has two primary data centres that act as a failover to one another; its older Haslegrave site, constructed in the 1950s, and a newer facility named Holywell Park, which became operational in 2010. When Mark Newall first became part of the IT team at Loughborough, the Haslegrave data centre hosted around 60 server racks. Layout had evolved over the years, with different faculties adding new racks on an ad-hoc basis. Challenges surfaced gradually as the dynamics of the server load developed, with hotspots emerging when the room’s cooling units were unable to deliver sufficient cool air. When the university virtualised its server load, the resulting reduction in the number of IT racks meant redesigning the Haslegrave’s data centre layout. Mark Newall said, “Because my first degree is in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, I had a good understanding of the complexity of airflows and so cooling design became my responsibility. It was clear to me that to optimise the data centre’s cooling efficiency, it was vital to segregate the air supplies.” Tasked with recommending a solution, Newall researched the available options and after a rigorous due diligence process, Loughborough became an early adopter of Schneider Electric’s Hot Aisle Containment Solution (HACS) (formerly InfraStruxure) – now known as its EcoStruxure Row Data Center.

Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Row Data Centers are pre-engineered, modular, scalable and highly-configurable systems, which include integrated power, racks, cooling and management software. Their use enables organisations like Loughborough to reduce install time, decrease risk and drive data centre efficiency. “We stopped cooling the room and focussed on directly cooling the racks and IT equipment. Containment enabled us to upgrade a data centre designed in the 50s and make it a suitable environment for a new generation of more compact and powerful servers,” continued Newall. Subsequently, the solution was also deployed in the new Holywell Park facility. “The EcoStruxure Row Data Centers – or Pods as we call them at Loughborough – immediately gave us a more structured and efficient data centre design, helping us to make better use of space, and enabling us to improve cooling, for more reliable IT services. A secondary advantage is that it gave us more control over the cooling,” said Newall. New challenges brought on by a decade of use Fast forward more than 10 years, and with the containment system approaching the end of its useful operating life, there was a requirement to refresh the university’s entire physical infrastructure. It was decided this could also be used as an inflection point to make other significant upgrades. The raised floor, which had been installed when the Haslegrave facility was originally built, had become unstable in places, and to


At the foundational level of everything which is data-driven at the university, the Haslegrave and Holywell data centres are the power behind a host of advancements in sports science, and our transition towards a more sustainable university operation. Working with Schneider Electric and on365 has enabled our data centre to become more efficient, effective and operate with more resilience. Mark Newall Senior IT Specialist, Loughborough University

ensure the safety of IT and services personnel, the decision was made to replace the floor, creating a new challenge to do so with no break in IT operations. The team at Loughborough had also designed the infrastructure to have no single point of failure – a design feature which extends to both the Haslegrave and Holywell Park data centres. Solution: EcoStruxure for data centres Working with on365, an Elite Partner to Schneider Electric, and specialist in providing energy efficient, physical IT infrastructure services for public sector, SME and corporate clients, the upgrade project was undertaken

in two phases. Firstly, by moving the IT so the floor could be upgraded in the first half of the facility, followed by the installation of the new EcoStruxure Row Data Center; secondly, migrating the IT back into that new installation to address the second half of the floor. At the same time, more floor space in the data centre was created for future IT deployments. on365 had been a strategic partner to the university for many years, providing preventative maintenance and physical infrastructure replacement services to ensure operational continuity. on365’s role as a services partner became even more vital during the pandemic, as reliance on digital applications increased.

In this instance, all services procedures were quickly adapted to make them Covidsafe, ensuring the university received essential ongoing support but with controls to limit contact and access for on365 engineers, IT staff and students. “We work with on365 because they have the specialist skills we require in-house,” said Newall. “They don’t subcontract to other organisations, and we know we can trust them to know exactly what they’re doing to service and maintain our data centre equipment to the highest possible standards.” Whilst upgrading to the next generation of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Row Data Center solution, the team took the opportunity

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to bring other parts of the dependent infrastructure under IT’s control, including the cooling systems. Mark Newall explained: “Previously we had a chilled water system, and while we had control of the InRow cooling and the data centre, we were still reliant upon facilities management to look after the chillers on the roof.” This, it turns out, had not created problems until the searing hot summer of 2022, when local temperatures reached nearly 40°C. “During that period the chillers broke down,” said Newall. “Fortunately most of the campus was on holiday. The cooling system wasn’t designed for those sorts of conditions, there weren’t dual chilled water circuits or chillers. We’d built the data centre to be resilient with no single point of failure, but that strategy was impacted as we had no control over the fabric of the room, which included the external systems supporting the air conditioning.” As such the university selected Schneider Electric InRow DX (direct expansion) units to accompany the new EcoStruxure Row Data Center, creating two separate circuits to extend the ‘no single points of failure’ design throughout the facility. It also used containment to gain more cooling control and cool the IT racks directly. This made the environment more suitable for a new generation of compact and powerful servers, and subsequently, the solution was replicated at Holywell Park. Upgrading management software Along with the installation of the new containment system, the university upgraded the management software used to control its infrastructure. Previously, Loughborough had used Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Data Center Expert software but has now deployed its EcoStruxure IT platform for improved manageability, real-time visibility and datadriven insights. This enables it to proactively anticipate any failures and take steps to mitigate them before they become critical. “One of the features we really like about EcoStruxure IT is that it sends alerts to our mobile phones,” said Newall. “When needed, we can talk directly to Schneider Electric’s support staff and if we do experience an issue, it’s good to know they’ve already started compiling data to remedy the situation.” The university also invested in a threeyear contract for Schneider Electric’s full manufacturer’s service support, which has been executed via on365. As an Elite Service Partner,

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offering up to 99% energy efficiency, without compromising availability. Galaxy UPS with lithium-ion not only have the advantage of a much smaller footprint than lead-acid batteries, but they also withstand many more charge/recharge cycles, providing the possibility of novel energy-saving methodologies to reduce power demands. Questions about power use at Loughborough are becoming more important as the university looks for new ways to increase its sustainability efforts and reduce its carbon footprint. Through its work with Schneider Electric and on365, the university now has multiple systems installed which monitor electrical consumption as well as identifying where electricity is used. Decisions can then be made about how to use energy more intelligently or reduce it. This is vital for an institution with so many large and powerhungry sports halls and two data centres which operate continuously. on365 provides Schneider Electric service functions alongside complete electrical and mechanical services such as FGAS and pipework installation. This ongoing commitment protects the university’s investments in new infrastructure by ensuring the equipment is fully operational, reliable, and quality maintained. “Having a well-structured preventative maintenance programme is vital to ensure that the data centre and IT systems are optimised and operationally efficient,” said Carl Richardson, Technology Support Manager, on365. “At on365, we’ve continued to collaborate closely with the university, not only to provide them with significant value, but to ensure they can meet their strict procurement governance whilst having access to our extensive support and services capabilities.” The university also utilises a large distributed, edge network environment, which has in excess of 60 single-phase UPSs protecting it. As part of its service agreement, these critical power systems are monitored and maintained via Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT, providing real-time visibility into their UPSs’ health and status, and helping IT personnel to manage the network across the campus. Further improvements in resilience and efficiency were also achieved by replacing legacy UPSs with Schneider Electric’s Galaxy VS UPS with lithium-ion batteries. Galaxy VS incorporates Schneider Electric’s patented eConversion operating mode as standard,

Results The newly modernised data centre environments have immediately provided Loughborough with higher levels of performance and operational efficiency. Adopting a second generation EcoStruxure Row Data Center solution with hot aisle containment and InRow cooling has both improved cooling control and energy efficiency, while removing all remaining single points of failure. Further, the use of Galaxy VS UPS has increased resilience for the university’s research applications and ensures optimum levels of uptime. Adopting Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT platform has provided Loughborough with enhanced levels of visibility and data-driven insights that quickly help to identify and mitigate potential faults before they become critical across the campus. This, in conjunction with its new services plan delivered via on365, has given the university 24x7 access to expert maintenance support. Looking to the future, the collaboration between Schneider Electric, on365, and Loughborough University has proven invaluable and will play a key role in its future IT sustainability strategy. By modernising its infrastructure with the latest in resilient and energy efficient technologies and harnessing the power of both data analytics and predictive maintenance, the university has future-proofed its campus to support new breakthroughs in sporting research.



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Karsten Winther, EMEA President at Vertiv, explains why the role of AI in cognitive infrastructure starts with smart energy.


rtificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionising data centre operations, delivering improved efficiency and enhanced service offerings. And, as companies grapple with increasing data centre workloads, AI-enabled solutions provide a way to alleviate the burden on IT management teams, lower operating costs and improve overall efficiency. However, the transformative power of AI extends beyond these benefits, particularly in the realm of cognitive infrastructure. By leveraging AI, data centre operators can implement predictive maintenance strategies that go beyond traditional approaches, helping deliver optimal performance, minimising risks and reducing downtime. Within this context, the role of renewable energy sources and energy storage in smart energy systems becomes evident, providing opportunities to stabilise power grids and optimise energy consumption. Against this backdrop, this article explores the critical role of AI in cognitive infrastructure, beginning with smart energy and its

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implications for energy consumption, operational efficiency, carbon reduction strategies and beyond. Smart energy and the role of renewable sources Like most sectors, the energy industry is experiencing rapid change and innovation. Renewable sources such as solar and wind power are leading the way in revolutionising the market, meeting the growing demand for more sustainable electricity generation and consumption. Alongside this transformation, alternative energy sources and energy storage play pivotal roles in shaping the evolving landscape. These options not only provide environmentally-friendly solutions but also contribute to grid stability and enable efficient resource use. In certain countries, the availability of real-time energy prices empowers market players to adopt innovative strategies. One example is optimising power consumption by charging electric vehicles overnight and using them during the day. This approach reduces energy usage and contributes to grid stabilisation in an era of intermittent energy sources. Real-time energy prices further facilitate optimised power consumption, promoting grid stability and energy ‘prosuming’, which empowers consumers to generate renewable energy locally. This can be seamlessly integrated with battery energy storage systems to enable a consistent energy supply during both peak and low generation periods. To address the evolving energy landscape, the integration of AI in smart energy systems is particularly interesting. AI algorithms are able to analyse real-time data, enhancing grid management, demand response and efficient resource use. By continuously monitoring energy demand and supply, AI can enhance the distribution of renewable


AI-driven predictive maintenance and lifecycle monitoring also guarantee infrastructure availability while minimising downtime. Remote monitoring services, enhanced by AI and machine learning, provide realtime visibility and diagnostics, enabling proactive network performance assessment. The importance of smart energy analytics in cognitive infrastructure Energy analytics play a crucial role in today’s data centre projects, offering deep insights and actionable information derived from big data. By harnessing the power of software and data, even traditional areas like power and cooling can be improved through dynamic controls and intelligent decision-making. Cognitive infrastructure, enabled by AI, allows systems to learn and predict the most effective ways to optimise IT performance over time. This includes managing cold air, humidity levels, speed and pressure, surpassing the capabilities of human monitoring and adjustment. The application of AI extends to predictive maintenance, empowering operators to anticipate physical behaviours and predict end-of-life for various equipment components. Such insights enable operators to minimise downtime and help deliver the continuous operation of critical infrastructure, such as keeping the lights on and the internet running.

AI-powered energy conservation tools optimise equipment calibration, resulting in operational savings and reduced energy costs energy, maximising its effective use. Moreover, AI algorithms can predict changes in energy patterns, enabling proactive measures to maintain grid stability and reliability. AI as a key enabler for data centre continuity AI can be a game changer in ensuring operational continuity and reducing carbon footprints in data centres. By processing and analysing real-time data, AI enables several digital services that further empower traditional preventive and reactive services. These include monitoring services, advanced incident management and condition-based maintenance. AI-powered energy conservation tools optimise equipment calibration, resulting in operational savings and reduced energy costs. Predictive maintenance strategies take data centre efficiency to new heights as operators can accurately time asset use while minimising risks and reducing downtime. Anticipating physical behaviours and predicting equipment lifespan empower operators to keep critical infrastructure functioning seamlessly, ensuring uninterrupted power and internet connectivity.

A bright future driven by rapid innovation Looking ahead, the development of AI algorithms specifically designed for cognitive infrastructure will further enhance the capabilities of smart energy systems. These algorithms will enable data centres and other industries to make intelligent decisions in real-time, optimising energy usage, predicting equipment failures and proactively managing power consumption. By leveraging AI’s ability to analyse vast amounts of data and learn from patterns and trends, data centres can continuously improve their energy efficiency and reduce their environmental impact. Furthermore, the collaboration between AI and renewable energy sources holds great potential for a more sustainable future. AI can help optimise the integration of intermittent renewable sources like solar and wind power into the energy grid. By analysing weather patterns, energy demand and supply, AI algorithms can determine the most efficient and effective ways to use renewable energy resources. This integration will not only reduce reliance on fossil fuels but also contribute to the stability and resilience of a more sustainable power grid. The role of AI in cognitive infrastructure, starting with smart energy, is critical for achieving more sustainable and efficient data centre operations. From optimising energy consumption to digital services empowering lifecycle maintenance and renewable energy integration, AI empowers data centre operators to make informed decisions, reduce costs and minimise their environmental footprint. As technology continues to evolve, AI will undoubtedly play an even more significant role in shaping the future of cognitive infrastructure and smart energy systems. By embracing these advancements, a digital infrastructure landscape can be created that is more environmentally friendly, resilient and capable of meeting the growing demands of the digital age.

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Train, retain and attain Andrew Stevens, President & CEO at CNet Training, outlines five reasons to build an education function into your core business strategy.


uilding an education function into your core business strategy has never been more important. The continual growth and evolution of the digital infrastructure industry’s global workforce is highlighting a combination of factors that have cemented education as one of the foundations for continued business success that cannot be downplayed. The digital revolution, which is yielding technological innovation at a rate of knots, means that skills and knowledge have a shorter shelf life than previously expected. The need to renew and refresh skills across workforces is paramount in keeping pace with the industry. Advancements in technology can also require increasingly complex learning, and with an ageing workforce facing swathes of retirement, paired with the ongoing challenge of recruiting new talent into the industry, the continual education of existing employees is key to addressing these issues and unlocking business success. Investing in the development of your workforce has powerful transformative effects on your business. Evidence is categorical that companies who prioritise building an education function into their core business strategies, and who task a learning and development arm with proactively working to provide continuing professional development opportunities for employees, are rewarded with numerous, far-reaching, cross-business benefits. Here’s five key benefits you can expect to realise by building education into your core business strategy.


Develop your employees Research shows that dedicating time and effort to continue learning throughout adulthood has been linked to happiness, higher earning capacity, lower unemployment, positive health benefits – such as reduced stress levels and longer life expectancy – improved self-confidence, and motivation levels, to name but a few. Employers have a responsibility to create opportunities for employees to learn and develop new competencies, and, quite frankly, why wouldn’t you when these benefits are on offer. Ongoing education, in the shape of individually tailored professional development, helps every employee achieve their absolute best. An education function within your business, whether it is an individual

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or a team, will work to create opportunities, not only in line with the employee’s own career ambitions, but crucially for the business, in line with the overarching strategy and goals. When you are able to provide an education strategy that develops the employee’s skills and knowledge in alignment with the ones that the business needs to succeed, you have a win-win situation. Building a comprehensive, collaborative, and coordinated approach to individual development and education, with your business’ unique aims in mind, will both engage employees and power the business to continue to drive forwards towards achieving its goals.


Attract new talent Highly engaged employees, who are given the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to grow and develop within their chosen career path, are the perfect advert for job applicants who will be looking to assess the culture of an organisation. Where the demand for qualified staff is outstripping supply, the culture of a company plays a significant role in attracting the best talent in an industry. Fresh staff are increasingly cherry picking their roles, based on the wider opportunities, benefit packages and flexibility that the company provides. By firmly planting education at the core of your business strategy, and consequently in the culture of your business, you are creating a happy,


to ‘jump ship’ from their current role. This staff poaching from an already limited resource is costly, unsustainable, and a contradiction in building a stronger future for the digital infrastructure industry. Giving staff development a high priority status will foster loyalty and therefore increase staff retention levels, meaning employees are less likely to be tempted away by another organisation. Individuals who feel that their employers are genuinely interested and invested in seeing them succeed, who spend time nurturing their skills, and are dedicated to helping them grow, will inherently be more loyal and less likely to be lured away by the offer of a better salary/benefits package. Retaining more experienced staff within your workforce also has the bonus of creating the opportunity for them to coach and mentor less experienced employees – a valuable proposition when attracting new entrants (see reason two). Mentoring also has widely proven benefits for the mentors themselves, as they reap the rewards of developing communication and leadership skills, sharing knowledge, helping others to progress, and leaving a lasting positive impact on someone’s life. Alongside this, mentees directly benefit from exposure to new and different perspectives, increased self-confidence, industry awareness and enhanced engagement in their development (both personally and professionally.)


developed, skilled, and motivated workforce. These people can sell the company for you – which is an attractive proposition for existing and potential employees alike.


Retain your staff Placing a firm and open focus on staff development also has the proven benefit of increasing staff retention, as employees are more likely to succeed in their roles, be energised by new opportunities at work and remain satisfied with their current organisation. During an industry-wide skills shortage, attempting to recruit suitably qualified and experienced staff is a challenging and costly task, not only at the point of recruitment, but also on an ongoing basis. The most experienced (and therefore desirable) staff will expect an increase in salary to entice them

Staff poaching from an already limited resource is costly, unsustainable, and a contradiction in building a stronger future for the digital infrastructure industry

Deliver better customer experiences A workforce of well-developed, highly skilled, loyal individuals is likely to have an impact on your customer satisfaction levels, as customers benefit from positive interactions with happy, capable staff and experience high quality workmanship. Confidence in the organisation’s capacity to deliver what the customer is looking for is also boosted when businesses are able to evidence that their workforce holds recognised certifications and qualifications that are in demand across the industry. This provides reassurance that work is carried out in adherence with industry standards and compliant with regulations. As customer satisfaction levels rise, so too will customer referrals, word of mouth marketing and repeat business, which can lead to a positive effect on sales figures and bring even further tangible benefits across the entire business.


Create competitive advantage The ultimate success of any business lies with the workforce that powers it, and accordingly your staff have the ability to propel the growth of your business or to significantly hinder its progress. Building an education function into your business, with responsibility for planning, implementing, and overseeing the upskilling of your workforce, will ensure that your business is powered by a professionally certified and qualified workforce, giving it the best possible chance for success. This will not only increase your credibility with potential customers and lead to better business outcomes but can also help you to establish a competitive advantage in the market. Consequently, organisations who do not implement a similar education focus simply cannot compete like for like. They will not be able to evidence the skill and competence of their teams, nor make confident, evidenced claims about their quality of service and workmanship – and will fall short of competitors who can.

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Unsung hero Underspecifying cable management could be an expensive mistake resulting in costly downtime. It’s time to take this neglected area of data centre construction seriously, writes Ben Roberts, Sales Director for RMS Cables.


ffective cable management is more important than ever within data centres, where an increasing need for high density installations means there is an abundance of optical fibre, copper and power cables installed. These cables are vital, carrying both the power and the data lifeblood for your data centre. The consequences of a poorly designed and installed system using

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cheap materials that do not adequately protect this cabling could be catastrophic. Yet too often this side of the installation is neglected. Unfortunately, accidents happen and you need to make sure that it does not result in downtime. What would happen, for example, if a cherry picker inadvertently drove into a poorly positioned cable tray, or cheap plastic pipe carrying the cable? Or perhaps maintenance contractors, not understanding the critical nature of cable trunking, use it as a step up to reach overhead? A lack of skilled mechanical and electrical (M&E) contractors makes an installation even more of a problem. A study from Turner and Turner showed that 92% of respondents state that they are struggling to meet construction demand due to a shortage of experienced site teams. This skills shortage is particularly noticeable for M&E fitters. And this is coming at a time when there is a huge demand for new installations, with research from Mordor Intelligence suggesting that by 2026 the sector will be worth more than $105 billion a year. Prefabricated options These on-site construction challenges can impact the quality of an installation. Therefore, as with most other aspects of data centre construction, increasing attention is being given to modular and prefabricated cable management. As well as leading to faster and more accurate construction, it is helping to improve standards across the industry. Although they are often used interchangeably, it’s important to differentiate the two terms: • Prefabrication refers to any construction process that does not take place on-site. It is an umbrella term used to describe construction in a climate-controlled factory environment. Prefabricated building materials can be easily shipped or assembled and delivered to a building site as complete components. • Modularity is a type of prefabrication and specifically consists of the building of repeated sections, called modules, being built in a factory and then assembled on-site. Modules are essentially separate structural units which, post assembly, make up the entire structure. Good design Good cable management starts with the design, but here it pays to consider the realities of the site. A good off-site manufacturer will visit your site, because even if you think you know what you want with a standardised installation, in truth no two installations are the same. There will be a drain cover or other services in different places, or different thickness of walls, floors and ceilings in each building. Where will the cable and fibre optics feed into the building and will you need an adapter to feed it from the HDPE pipe into your EMT tubing on-site? How much cable will you need and will you need space to blow fibre optic cables through the pipe?

Too many installations aim to cut costs, forgetting that the cost of downtime in the future is far more than the cost of saving a few thousand pounds now

Once you consider these issues and numerous others, such as delivery schedules to ensure that the system is not stored outside, you can either start or adapt your existing design. Going the prefabricated modular route with prefabricated units can save huge amounts of installation time. It also ensures that the installation undergoes factory-controlled quality checking. And most importantly it means that you know what you are getting – there are no shortcuts or breaking the specification. Time for EMT We need to remember that cable management systems also play a vital role in protecting data. It needs to prevent accidental and malicious damage to any cabling from the point of entry. Too many installations aim to cut costs, forgetting that the cost of downtime in the future is far more than the cost of saving a few thousand pounds now. Make sure that you don’t get caught out by this false economy and check the specification with care. There is a reason why the biggest data centres in the world use electrical metallic tubing (EMT). While you can of course use a thinner steel or plastic product, you will not get the same cable protection. If someone drove into EMT tubing, for example, they would damage their vehicle, not the cable. Careful design also plays a role and knowing where to position your system out of harm’s way will be important. Companies with experience in modular and prefabricated manufacture, modern methods of construction (MMC), and design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA) can help ease the pressures and challenges faced by main contractors and enables all parties to value each other’s position in the supply chain. Most modern construction projects now require digital models to provide open and shareable information. 3D computer aided design software can create modular cable management solutions. Taking building information modelling and/or Revit files, extracting the M&E layers and working with contractors can help develop the best solutions for your cable management needs. Labelling, identification and floor plan schematics are all part of one complete cable management system. You need diligence throughout all project stages, from planning to handover, to ensure a specification compliant installation. This will involve input from installation teams, project engineers, project managers and you as the end-user. The proliferation of data centres and, in particular, colocation facilities, is driving the need for easy and foolproof identification of cable containment hardware for individual clients. Colour coding cable trunking, tray, ladder, basket and electrical metallic tubing based containment is a tried and tested method of facilitating this. In addition, when it comes to EMT, not only is experience with cutting, joining and bending pipes necessary, there is an additional catalogue of essential components required to cater for the navigation of fibre optic cables. Getting the best Good cable management makes a huge difference to the long-term management and operating costs of a data centre. Modular and prefabricated systems ensure that you are getting a system that has factory-controlled quality checks, is fit for purpose and designed for your needs. Do not cut corners with your specification, it will cost you more in the long run.

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A design for life David Bond, Chairman, Centiel UK, explains why we need to explore sustainable UPS designs for the sake of future generations.

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he Manic Street Preachers’ song A Design for Life examines working class identity in Britain. I’m borrowing their title, but sustainability is the topic for discussion – and it is an issue for all social classes and industries, and none more so than the data centre industry. A throw away culture is no longer sustainable Up until now, data centres have needed to install an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and replace it at the end of a typical design life of around 10 years. However, ripping out the system and upgrading it is hugely disruptive and inevitably puts the critical load at risk while the upgrade takes place. While the ‘throw away and buy new’ culture of the past has supported this approach, it is both wasteful with resources and disruptive. In the past, despite disruption, upgrading the UPS meant upgrading to better technology. Like buying a mobile phone, you tend to replace it every few years to take advantage of the latest advancements in tech. However, with UPS this will no longer happen. The most modern UPS systems already offer 97.6% efficiency, which means we have now pretty much reached the physical limit of technological advancement.


energy literally and metaphorically costs the earth. An excellent alternative is to use a modular UPS and follow a similar process – but instead of installing a large monolithic UPS, burning energy on day one, simply install an empty modular UPS cabinet sized to support the site’s maximum design load and only fit the number of modules needed to power the day one load. As the load increases or decreases, modules can be added or removed, thereby ‘rightsizing’ the UPS. This means Capex is not wasted and Opex, including maintenance costs, are minimised. Also, because the UPS is rightsized, it operates at an optimum point on its energy efficiency curve. The challenge here is that after 10 years, even the modular UPS manufacturer can stop supporting the solution. An entire UPS replacement may still be required and so we could be back to square one. Shifting perceptions At this point, to move forward, we need to shift expectations about the perception of a UPS. These days, a data centre site design specification expects the electrical infrastructure to last for the entire life of the data centre. No one would ever consider a site shutdown to replace the main switchgear after 10 years, so why is it acceptable for a UPS, particularly as the site’s 400 V, 50 Hz will be the same in two decades’ time? The racks in a server room enable servers to be replaced and upgraded as technology evolves. If more processing power is needed, further servers can easily be added or, if one fails, it can be replaced. The same applies to modular UPS – however, significant advances in UPS technology are becoming increasingly unlikely as we are now very close to the limits of both system operating efficiency and availability.

Fit and forget So, just like installing switchgear, cabling, cable trays, generators and other electrical infrastructure and expecting it to last for the entire 30year design life of the data centre, why not install a fit-and-forget UPS that will last 30 years too? Quite simply, it’s because a UPS that will last 30 years hasn’t previously been available. Market forces were centred around driving prices down and not driving sustainable options up, and so it was not created as an option. Inefficiencies of the past Previously, it was quite normal to install a monolithic UPS, sized to support the site’s maximum design load, knowing it was unlikely to ever become fully loaded. This ‘just in case’ approach meant more was spent on upfront Capex and ongoing maintenance, as the bigger the system, the more it costs to purchase and maintain. It also costs more to run. A large UPS running at a low load is at a disadvantageous point on its energy efficiency curve and wastes a lot of energy. And these days, we all know

At this point, to move forward, we need to shift expectations about the perception of a UPS

Future demand Society now depends on IT and technology, and the introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning will only fuel demand for more data centres. One press article in the Irish Times suggested that if all the data centres in Ireland seeking planning permission were successful, 70% of the Irish National Grid would be taken up to power them. This is the situation today, but what about in five- or 10-years’ time? The developing world needs to get on the technology bus too, so we must look at ways for the growing number of data centres to become more energy efficient and sustainable in the future. In the late 1980s, I wrote a paper imagining the perfect UPS. I said it would be 100% efficient (we are now close to 98%), it would offer 100% availability (we are now at 99.9999999%), it would present a perfect load to the mains supply (it is now unity power factor with input current total harmonic distortion – THDi of <1%) and would last forever. The development team behind Centiel have pretty much solved the first three challenges to create the (almost) perfect UPS, and for the past four years, they have been innovating to develop a UPS with a design life to match the design life of a data centre (typically 30 years) and can be recycled to make UPS more sustainable. “If you tolerate this your children will be next.” I’m again taking the Manic Street Preachers out of context. Here they were singing about Welsh volunteers in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, but the title of the song could just as well be a warning to take sustainability seriously. It’s time to look ahead and introduce the most sustainable options possible in our data centres for the sake of future generations.

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Maximising maintenance Riello UPS’s Chris Cutler outlines the key questions data centre operators should ask to ensure they get the most out of their UPS maintenance plan.


inter poses its own unique challenges. Cold weather puts greater stress on our electricity network at a time when there’s less renewable power feeding into the grid. Snow, ice, and high winds can knock out power lines. There’s a heightened risk of flooding too. All in all, we’re entering a time of year when major power disruption is far more likely. For data centre operators, reliable uninterruptible power supplies are the key first line of defence that prevents essential IT equipment and electrical devices from experiencing the deep freeze of downtime. But those UPS systems are complex machines in their own right. Data centre installations often cost anywhere from tens to even hundreds of thousands of pounds. Wear and tear over time is inevitable, so certain parts and consumables will need replacing. And no piece of sophisticated electrical equipment is infallible – your UPS will probably need repairing at some point. ‘Best endeavours’ versus a guaranteed response If your data centre UPS is fairly new, it might still be covered under its initial warranty. But you should be aware that a warranty only offers a ‘best endeavours’ response if something goes wrong; it isn’t an absolute guarantee of a speedy solution. That’s why for most mission-critical settings, such as data centres, the safeguard of an ongoing UPS maintenance plan makes sense. These

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contracts set out in black and white the timescales to get you back online if a fault occurs. They’ll also include provision for at least one planned preventive maintenance visit (PMV) a year. These are similar to the annual health checks you get on a car or boiler. A PMV provides peace of mind that everything’s working as it should and helps to maximise lifespan. And remember, prevention is better than cure. Proactive upkeep can have a hugely positive impact on the reliability and performance of your system. A well-maintained UPS reduces your risk of failure – and damaging downtime – while it will also run more efficiently, cutting your energy use. Unfortunately, not all UPS maintenance contracts are made equal. Some are better than others. And sadly some agreements aren’t even worth the paper they’re written on, full of get-out clauses, caveats, and confusing legal jargon. So before signing on the dotted line, do your due diligence and get clarity on several crucial points. You should never be afraid to ask challenging questions of any prospective provider. Here are a few key queries to get the ball rolling: • How fast will you respond to an emergency callout? Obviously, you can’t predict when a UPS system will fail, but data centre operators need to know that any future fault will be fixed as soon as possible. That’s why it’s crucial to get a clear, guaranteed response and even fix times included in your service level agreement (SLA) to avoid any ambiguity. The majority of maintenance providers will claim to offer a ‘24/7

The majority of maintenance providers will claim to offer a ‘24/7 response’, but it’s prudent to get clarification on what that term means in reality response’, but it’s prudent to get clarification on what that term means in reality. What is the response? Is it an automated message saying your problem has been noted? A phone call with technical support? Or an engineer on-site fixing the problem within a set timeframe? You might get a rapid initial response, but then it might be several days until your faulty UPS is fully fixed. • How quickly will I get spare parts? When it comes to downtime, every minute or even every second counts. While it’s crucial your UPS maintenance provider has plenty of spare and replacement parts readily available, it’s even more important they can get them to your data centre quickly, no matter where you are located. It’s no consolation if your provider has significant stocks of spares but they are hundreds of miles away from your site. On the subject of spares, it’s worth clarifying what’s covered under the maintenance plan and what isn’t. Consumables such as batteries or capacitors don’t tend to be included, and while replacement fans are included as standard with our contracts, this isn’t always the case – so it’s worth double-checking so you aren’t hit with unexpected costs. • Who will service my UPS? Modern data centre UPSs are expensive and sophisticated devices. So you need to know that any engineer entrusted with installing, servicing, and if necessary, repairing your units knows what they are doing. Are they fully trained and certified on the particular model and manufacturer? Data centre operators are perfectly entitled to use third-party maintenance providers rather than their UPS manufacturer, but you should be aware a general maintenance or electrical engineer is unlikely to have sufficient product-specific knowledge. Remember that human error is the single most common cause of downtime. An engineer who isn’t familiar with your UPS could unwittingly throw an incorrect switch, and then you’re left facing unplanned downtime. When it comes time for a service visit, always ask for proof your engineer is trained for the specific manufacturer and model. Remember it’s not unusual for subcontractors to be substituted in at the last minute if the original engineer becomes unavailable. Don’t get caught cold Obtaining clarity over emergency response times, availability of spares, and engineer competence will go a long way to ensuring you make an informed decision about who is best placed to look after your UPS. And with the most cautious estimates suggesting downtime costs data centres thousands of pounds a minute, a proactive approach to UPS maintenance is likely to pay for itself over time by making it less likely operators are caught cold when any big freeze strikes.

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The landlords of AI Chris Sharp, CTO at Digital Realty, explores why modularity will be critical for data centres and the AI economy.


he emergence of large-scale commercial AI, especially new generative AI applications, has pushed a new set of technical requirements onto the data centre facilities where these applications reside. The infrastructure that supports them will draw more power, chew through more data, and use more bandwidth than ever before, all within facilities that may have been built 20 years ago. These facilities now need to adapt to support what may be in some cases an order of magnitude increase in power draw per rack. The only way to achieve this is with a modular design. Data centres may seem like highly static entities. They’re typically enormous brick-and-mortar buildings with row after row of generators and other equipment outside. However, the modern data centre is anything but static; many facilities are designed from the beginning to be highly modular, and a given data centre floor may be adapted for changes in network topology, airflow considerations and physical redundancy several times a year if required. Changing needs The widespread emergence of AI deployments in the data centre shows how quickly customer requirements can change. Where only last year, a data centre operator may have been able to plan on an average of 10 kW power draw per rack of customer equipment, the need for increasingly large blocks of 25, 50 or even 100 kW racks at different places across that same data centre facility is here and will only continue to grow. With a traditional static design, this can create many problems in terms of performance, maintenance, and redundancy. Firstly, such dense racks often require more network bandwidth to operate at their highest level of efficiency. This is often overlooked, and a customer will be very unhappy if they deploy such a dense rack (or 10, or 100 of them) and then can’t get the bandwidth that they require. Secondly, an uneven increase in power draw across the floor of a data centre can often stress a cooling system that was not designed to accommodate these types of hot spots. A dense rack on one end of a row in the data centre could easily lead to increased temperatures at the other end. Finally, resiliency and redundancy measures are based on where specific electrical loads are across the facility and how they are distributed. If a very dense cluster of equipment is added in one area, static designs may not be able to ensure that it is covered by enough reliable generator capacity. A modular approach For the AI customer, each of these concerns is a significant issue – but by using a highly adaptable modular design framework, these can be

The modern data centre is anything but static addressed in data centres of any age. For one, spaces can be repurposed or designed-in from the beginning of the facility to be used as additional network rooms to allow for the installation of more network circuits, switches, and routers to boost network bandwidth to the customer over time. Additionally, a modular method of designing and deploying overhead cable trays allows the data centre operator to physically bring that connectivity to the customer, which is often overlooked in static, non-flexible designs. Understanding the true state of cooling across a facility through the use of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) provides the data centre operator with the means to identify trapped airflow, unintended patterns of airflow that may result in sub-optimal cooling, and where additional air capacity exists that can be used to cool dense, hot AI deployments. Many data centre facilities can also be modular enough to be upgraded from an air-only cooling configuration to a hybrid setup where air and liquid cooling (both AALC and DLC) are available on an as-needed basis, allowing AI deployments to take place as part of an existing data centre floor or larger suite. With a modular power configuration – where the data centre is conceptualised as a series of blocks each with its own supporting power, backup and cooling infrastructure – core components can be sized and deployed appropriately based on the customer deployment in relatively small increments. This ensures that as deployments are added to a space, even if they differ wildly in power consumption, they can be supported at the expected level of resiliency. Modular designs will be the difference between being able to support current and future generations of AI deployments in existing sites and needing to build new ones.

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VIRTU A L E V E NEVENT T 2 8 - 3 28 0 N-O30 VEM B E R 2023 2023 LIVE ONLINE NOV

Critical Insight is back for 2023! After the success of the inaugural show, Critical Insight, the not-to-be-missed event for the digital infrastructure sector, is set to return in November 2023. Due to demand, we have added an extra day to this year’s event, giving you even more opportunity to join us and an even wider breadth of topics to cover. Brought to you in association with Data Centre Review, this virtual event will bring together key industry leaders to discuss their expert insight and opinion on the crucial issues impacting the changing landscape of the sector. From diversity and digital equity, to sustainability, the cloud and cybersecurity, there will be a diverse selection of insights into all areas of our industry. So, join us between 28-30 November 2023, and be a part of the conversations that will help us to shape the future of our industry. You can view the agenda and register for the event by visiting If you’d like to find out more about sponsorship or speaking opportunities, please get in touch with Sunny or Tom for more information: Sunny Nehru: +44 (0) 207 062 2539 Tom Packham: +44 (0)7741 911 317




09:30 Welcome Kayleigh Hutchins, Editor, Data Centre Review

09:35 Keynote - How diverse is the digital infrastructure sector? Adelle Desouza, Advisory Board Member, The Data Centre Alliance

10:05 How critical infrastructure is evolving to drive more sustainable data centre design and operation Alex Brew, Regional Director Northern Europe, Vertiv

10:35 The evolution of colocation and what’s driving these changes Patrick Lastennet, Director Platform & Enterprise, Digital Realty

11:05 Using scalable and integrated data centre solutions Deepan Patel, Industry Manager - Infrastructure, Phoenix Contact

11:35 15-minute break 11:50 What’s happening in data centre design and build Herbert Radlinger, Managing Director, NDC-Garbe

12:20 Panel - Air cooling vs liquid cooling Matt Evans, Global Director – Data Centre Solutions at Flakt Group Andy Young, CTO, Asperitas Moderator: John Booth, Consultant, Carbon3IT Ltd

13:05 AI disruption: Challenges and guidance for data centre design Steven Carlini, VP Innovation and Data Centre, Schneider Electric

13:35 End of Day One

Platinum Sponsors

22 Autumn 2023


Register to watch LIVE at







09:30 Welcome

09:30 Welcome

Kayleigh Hutchins, Editor, Data Centre Review

Kayleigh Hutchins, Editor, Data Centre Review

09:35 Keynote - What should we be doing to ensure digital equity for all?

09:35 Keynote - Renewable energy: Opportunities, benefits and challenges for the data centre sector

Max Schulze, Founder, SDIA

10:05 Sustainability regulation, reporting and certification 10:35 Waste heat recovery: Challenges and opportunities Mark Bjornsgaard, CEO, Deep Green

11:05 The TCO of modern data centre UPS Jason Yates, Technical Services Manager, Riello UPS

11:35 15-minute break 11:50 Cloud computing: Current and future trends Daren Vallyon, Solutions Architect & Product Manager, Hyve Managed Services

Jay Paidipati, Sustainability Program Management, Uptime Institute

10:05 Power generation 10:35 Solutions to the skills shortage Michael Halliday, Head of Employer Engagement for the Trust, ALET

11:05 The sustainable data centre: Practical steps to achieve net zero targets which can be taken today Louis McGarry, Sales & Marketing Director, Centiel

11:35 15-minute break 11:50 Cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the cloud

12:20 Panel - What are the most important emerging tech, trends and developments for the data centre sector and how will they change digital infrastructure? Nick Hume, Founder & Managing Director, Hume Consulting Ramzi Charif, VP Technical Operations EEA, Virtus Moderator: Jon Summers, Research Lead in Data Centres, RI.SE

13:05 Balancing data centre cooling with the need to decrease water usage. 13:35 End of Day Two

Josh Hankins, Chief Technical Security Officer, Qualys

12:20 Panel - Extreme heat, supply chain problems and an energy crisis: How will the data centre sector overcome current challenges and what does the path forward look like? Torkild Follaug, Chief Sustainability Officer, Green Mountain Dr. Thomas Verghese, Technical Manager, Enersys Moderator: Mark Acton, Advisory Board Member, The Data Centre Alliance

13:05 Mending the data centre’s public image. 13:35 End of Critical Insight

Gold Sponsors Brought to you by DATA CENTRE REVIEW

Autumn 2023 23


Security’s new frontier Alexander Feick, Vice President, eSentire Labs, explores the role generative AI and LLMs play in cybersecurity, and why a ‘secure by design’ mindset must be adopted from the start. nnovative businesses understand the transformative potential of generative AI, especially large language models (LLMs), and the roles they play in the evolution of industry practices. McKinsey estimates that generative AI could add between $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion to the global economy annually across 63 different use cases, boosting employee productivity and delivering services to customers faster. However, alongside the implementation of these powerful tools, it is imperative to define strategies for navigating potential risks around these tools as well. When designing and implementing generative AI projects, we should ensure these deployments are secure right from the start. Currently, conversations around LLMs and security tend to focus on how threat actors can use LLMs and generative AI services to improve attacks like phishing. However, LLM-based cyberattacks are expected to reach far beyond the sophisticated phishing and impersonation scams reported market-wide today. Using LLMs in the wrong way could lead to loss or exposure of sensitive data, while the LLM services themselves could be targeted to provide wrong or dangerous responses. Additionally, LLMs embedded in application flows can be targeted to manipulate the behaviour of the application. To make Generative AI and LLMs useful, we must take a ‘secure by design’ mindset from the start. Rather than trying to bolt security onto these deployments after services have already been implemented, security teams should be involved right from the get-go, so that they can build in the right guardrails around how data is used as well as methods to check that any security policy is current and being followed correctly over time.


Getting security for LLMs right from the start Securing the use of LLMs begins with defining a clear consent mechanism for how LLMs are used, as well as enforcing this mechanism from the start. This includes implementing a directive that requires users to acknowledge their intent before accessing LLMs, which ensures a robust first line of defence against tools being mis-used or data shared inappropriately. By incorporating principles of consent, security, and practicality, organisations can create a user experience that is both smooth and secure, forming the foundation of any LLM security policy. However, implementing a consent mechanism is just the first step. Establishing a consistent means of risk monitoring is equally crucial. An

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internal gateway model can prove invaluable in securing all interactions with LLMs. This gateway should serve as a single point of interaction for users, data and services with any LLM service. A gateway should provide detailed data logging of interactions, using metrics such as usernames, response times, business or software purpose of LLM use, and text details, as this enables organisations to identify and mitigate potential risk hotspots effectively. Without this point of control, companies will have to rely on any LLM tools that individuals access having metrics and reporting on their use, and then gather up that user data from each tool in order to correlate activities. Not only is this difficult to execute in practice, it is timeconsuming and hard to maintain consistently. Using a centralised LLM gateway should provide more insight into activity and provide a way to manage LLM consumption over time. However, it is not the only step that you should take around securing your use of LLMs.

Rather than trying to bolt security onto these deployments after services have already been implemented, security teams should be involved right from the get-go Skilling up Alongside the technology to track use, you should also consider your company’s processes and support for staff. Targeted training on how to maximise the effective use of generative AI is critical to turn the potential benefits of LLMs into reality. By incorporating online learning modules and showcasing practical examples, organisations can closely monitor user adoption rates for LLMs and associated tools. From there you can not only enforce security standards, but also promptly address any pain points that users might have. Rather than being a security standard alone, this can ensure that users make continued progress in harnessing the potential of generative AI. Rather than simply blocking use, security teams can enable users to be more successful and share best practices. Once you set users on the right path, you will want to track their performance over time. As businesses integrate LLMs into their daily operations, it will be vital to ensure that these tools add tangible value. Practical output evaluation can provide insights into the quality, accuracy, and effectiveness of the LLMs that you use and the data that they provide to internal users or to customers. Focusing on quality and efficiency can help improve results. However, while the strength of LLMs emerges in tightly embedded application flows, looking at quality of output also provides a way to approach the


output of an LLM with a careful eye for potential risks or attempted attacks. If a threat actor tries to introduce vulnerabilities such as prompt injection and goal hijacking attacks, tracking quality and efficiency can protect users. Always be vigilant LLMs introduce new and unique threat surfaces, requiring ongoing vigilance and rapid adaptation by IT security teams. From a security and trust perspective, implementing LLMs is very similar to data sharing with an external party, so you will have to adopt similar defence in depth processes for all your LLM interactions. You should adapt your risk and security management solutions to include active monitoring and threat hunting for anomalies, particularly in high frequency and repeatable use cases (such as LLMs embedded in software), and treat all LLM outputs as potential security threats to whatever is consuming them. The journey towards making AI technologies useful within a business

By incorporating principles of consent, security, and practicality, organisations can create a user experience that is both smooth and secure is just starting, while ensuring robust IT security is a continuous objective. By looking at your security policies, implementing dynamic risk monitoring, and taking a pragmatic approach to training your users, you can navigate the emergent AI landscape while mindfully addressing potential threats. This should help you pave the way towards securely harnessing the full potential of AI.

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Honesty is the best policy Gregory Lebourg, Global Environment Director of OVHcloud, explains why radical transparency should drive data centre sustainability.


here’s no doubt that today’s environmental news headlines make for grim reading. According to the ONS, June 2023 was the hottest June since records began, and the average temperatures for the last five and 10 years have been the highest on record. Global action on decarbonisation is now urgent and the data centre industry has a critical role to play. According to ARCEP, the digital world accounts for 3-4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Within that, the cloud accounts for approximately 15%. It is clear that if we’re going to make progress, we have to be honest about it. Trouble with transparency When the quality improvement disciplines of Kaizen and Six Sigma were introduced in 1986, many organisations were able to radically improve their operations. Motorola, for example, saved over £13 billion

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by using the two methods together, and over half of the Fortune 500 uses elements of each to optimise how they operate. However, very few, if any, observers called out how these organisations had created waste or mis-spent money prior to adopting new approaches. This is not the case with environmental sustainability. We are at a pivotal moment for tackling our climate emergency, but shaming organisations in the process of making genuine sustainable change is counterproductive. Stern approaches are of course necessary for wasteful, inconsiderate organisations that prioritise profit over the planet, but it doesn’t help to condemn businesses on their journey to a sustainable future. We need to encourage a culture of change, not embarrassment. Being open about sustainability and carbon emissions is not an easy process. Changing organisations for the better is a complex, political and often expensive journey. But if we’re to build a net zero future, we need both an honest, solid foundation and a radical commitment to transparency. A strong sustainability strategy can have many benefits, including reducing costs, boosting productivity and increasing competitive advantage. Indeed, over a third (38%) of businesses would reject a supplier with a poor (or no) ESG strategy, showing that sustainability can clearly be more than just a cost centre when done correctly. A culture of frankness and transparency can and will open up uncomfortable areas for improvement, but it can also create a virtuous circle of continuous change. It requires a broad bench of business stakeholders to truly examine ‘everything the light touches’ but by breaking it down into discrete boxes, it becomes more manageable. Establishing a transparent approach to sustainability Creating an effective sustainability strategy is a complex and multifactorial endeavour, but the first step is accurate measurement. It’s currently a requirement for large organisations in the UK to declare their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, but not Scope 3. However, Scope 3 emissions tend to be the larger part of the iceberg – for example, OVHcloud’s represents 55% of its total emissions – and are also more difficult to measure. But once organisations have this understanding, it’s incredibly informative. For us, the carbon footprint associated with IT component manufacturing represents 41% of our total carbon footprint, with electricity representing 42%. This often surprises people but underlines my point: unless you have full knowledge of your emissions, you can’t possibly hope to survey the battlefield effectively. Furthermore, given we’re all fighting the same enemy, it’s doubly important we measure in the same way, using industry-agreed benchmarks like PuE and WuE, within established frameworks like ISO standards. This broad approach to measurement tends to shine a light on many areas that organisations have not considered. However, if we can take a deep breath and embrace this methodology, we’ll be better equipped to tackle the real carbon problem and not just the easy, visible one. That

Unless you have full knowledge of your emissions, you can’t possibly hope to survey the battlefield effectively

A culture of frankness and transparency can and will open up uncomfortable areas for improvement, but it can also create a virtuous circle of continuous change said, there are a number of factors that can make the journey easier: Executive sponsorship: Sustainability and transparency need to be considered at every level. If there isn’t buy-in from the data centre manager and the C-suite, it’ll be an uphill struggle. On the other hand, leaders with a sustainability-first mindset can create a culture of honesty that permeates everything the company does. Community: Radical transparency often reveals problems that organisations can’t solve by themselves. For example, recycling server motherboards and component packing foam is extremely challenging, but there are start-ups focused on tackling exactly these issues. Similarly, there are many third parties that offer consultancy around effective emissions measurement and can help with establishing sustainability strategies. Avoidance is better: Recycling is good, but re-use and purchase avoidance is better. For example, re-using old (well-tested!) server components in slower, low-cost servers is better than disassembling and recycling the metals and plastics, although the latter is necessary eventually. At the same time, moving into an existing building is better than commissioning a new build (where possible). Construction has a very significant carbon footprint. Data isn’t (always) knowledge: Even with effective measurement, teams may often have to admit they just don’t know things. For example, it can be difficult to assess whether a certain level of performance is good or bad. In some cases, you may have to wait for the ecosystem to catch up. But by putting a stake in the ground, you’re establishing a point of comparison and a benchmark for the industry to improve on or aspire to. Concrete targets: Committing to external carbon and water-efficiency targets and joining initiatives like the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact is a public commitment to sustainability, and a demonstration of accountability. It shouldn’t be seen as something to be held over you – rather, it’s a motivator and goal. However, it’s crucial these targets are set within public frameworks (for example, ISO standards) so we’re all measuring in the same way. Celebrate success: Transparency and sustainability are exceptionally challenging for data centre organisations – we use a lot of electricity and have a significant carbon footprint. However, it’s also important to celebrate success when targets are achieved and we take steps forward. There’s no question that radical transparency is an uncomfortable and difficult process. Operating within stringent boundaries and finding creative solutions to issues will unquestionably challenge our teams, leadership organisations and established ways of thinking. However, if we can rise to the challenge and create a continuous cycle of improvement, then adopting new sustainability strategies will take us as an industry in an interesting, profitable, exciting, and more importantly, incredibly necessary and meaningful direction. And that is a very, very worthwhile goal indeed.

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Driving a sustainable future Creating more sustainable versions of softwaredefined storage solutions via the use of solid-state drives can play an essential role in empowering several types of organisations to become both more green and more competitive, says Grant Lee of DapuStor.


oftware-defined storage (SDS) has become the default approach for provision of flexible, secure and highperformance storage resources in the context of contemporary solution architectures. However, delivery of faster performance is always needed as new and more dataintensive applications emerge, and so every part of SDS systems must be continually evaluated to ensure that they can provide the growing demands of the digital world. Although solid-state drives (SSDs) emerged as a crucial technology in this market several years ago now, they remain a relatively new technology. If you take a close look at the market, there are a number of specific but very lucrative and energy intensive applications that require storage systems with a large capacity and high-performance capability. This is what SSDs excel at, and they therefore have the potential to transform organisations working in these niches. Emergence of AI tools For example, in the past year or so, the world has seen a huge increase in the use of large language models – the technology behind tools such as ChatGPT that have brought the power of AI to the masses, and made ideas that seemed like science fiction just a few years ago, very real. But if you look at the infrastructure that is used by companies such as OpenAI to train and fine tune these models, they require systems with extremely high performance that can handle large amounts of data in a very short time period. SSDs are perfect for this, and so it is likely that they will play a huge part in the development of such AI-based tools in the coming years. Media and entertainment Another industry that has undergone significant digital transformation

Delivery of faster performance is always needed as new and more dataintensive applications emerge recently is the media and entertainment industry. Streaming companies such as Netflix and Disney+ provide vast amounts of media at the fingertips of users across the globe, all available at the press of a button at the highest of resolutions and frame rates. The ever-improving quality of the content available has led to file sizes growing larger and larger, necessitating the need for more storage capacity and better storage performance. To deal with this explosion of data, creative organisations in this industry are being forced to implement data strategies that support the level of mobility required to deliver their product, choosing solutions that can handle the increase in volume of data and facilitate the management of their workflows. These organisations are therefore increasingly turning to SSDs to deliver that higher level of performance and lower latency needed for today’s content. Algorithmic trading in modern finance A third scenario in which SSDs provide the perfect solution is high-frequency trading, a trading method that uses powerful computer programs

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to transact a large number of orders in fractions of a second. High-frequency trading uses complex algorithms to analyse multiple markets and execute orders based on market conditions. Traders with the fastest execution speeds are generally more profitable than those with slower execution speeds. As you can imagine, the amount of data and the speed at which that data flows into the system when markets open is enormous. When the difference between success and failure in a trade comes down to a matter of milliseconds, the importance of the ability to handle and process this data as fast as possible cannot be overstated. SSDs are currently the bestplaced technology to match the requirements of this industry.

Power management features can allow users to customise the power consumption of their SSD according to their specific needs, such as read or write intensive workloads

The future of SSDs So, clearly the demand for SSDs exists in the markets of today and the future. It is therefore important that the SSDs themselves are developed upon and improved to match the needs of these emerging industries, delivering high performance, high reliability and low latency for enterprise and data centre applications. They need to provide end-to-end data protection, ensuring that data is protected from the moment it is written to the SSD, throughout the data transfer process, and during storage on the SSD. Power loss protection, using capacitors to ensure that data is not lost in the event of a power failure, is also preferable. Power management features allow users to customise the power consumption of their SSD according to their specific needs, such as read or write intensive workloads. For example, users can set the SSD to a lower power consumption level during periods of low activity, reducing

overall power consumption and extending the life of the device. This feature is especially beneficial for data centre and enterprise customers who need to optimise their power consumption while maintaining highperformance levels. By adjusting the power levels of their SSDs, users can reduce their energy bills and lower their carbon footprint, while still achieving high levels of performance and reliability. At DapuStor, we are certain that the future of software-defined storage lies in the integration of SSDs to supercharge already existing platforms such as Ceph to provide faster solutions for the marketplace. This is something we have been working on alongside the technology infrastructure company Hyperscalers, and we believe that these new solutions will help to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible for many organisations in the coming years.

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Does your EVSE kit help you test, or does it just test?

Metrel’s charging point test kit is exceptional! The adapter will simulate a vehicle using the charge point and will complete all the functional tests and load test the installation. Meanwhile, the multi-function tester will automatically do all the electrical safety tests, let you record and store the results. So you can issue the certificate without added hassle. Helping you move on to the next job without delay!

Find out how the Metrel range of EVSE kits can accelerate your business. CALL TODAY 01924 245000 or mail for more information.

Metrel UK Ltd. Unit 16, 1st Qtr Business Park Blenheim Road Epsom Surrey KT19 9QN Phone: 01924 245000 E-mail: Web:

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You could be celebrating in the spotlight at the ER & DCR Excellence Awards Gala Dinner on 16th May 2024 at the breathtaking Christ Church, Spitalfields in London! The awards are seeking entries from across both the electrical and data centre industries, so don’t miss out on your chance to win top honours at next year’s event.

To view the award categories and criteria, visit:


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2024 32 Autumn 2023

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Embracing the future

Paul Morrison, HPC/AI Infrastructure Consultant and Venessa Moffat, DCA Advisory Board, explore the potential of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in data centres.


s data centre operations leaders juggle complex colocation, on-premise, and multi-cloud models, AI presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Adoption requires a strategic mindset as well as a discerning governance to address risks around integration with existing tools and infrastructure, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and possibly even ethical implications. However, once implemented, AI also promises to enhance human capabilities and radically transform operations. AI also presents a salient opportunity to enhance sustainability, from optimising power and cooling to forecasting workloads for resource efficiency – key concerns as data centre energy demands escalate. If implemented carefully, AI can transform data centres from rigid process-led facilities into adaptive ecosystems, ushering in a step-change era of enhanced insight, efficiency, and capability. But humans behind the machines bear responsibility for shaping that future responsibly. AI’s trajectory will follow the principles instilled within its architecture. Leaders face a choice – employ AI merely as a tool for tactical optimisations or embrace it as a collaborator extending human potential more radically. Revolutionising efficiency and resilience To date, process-driven approaches to reduce data centre outages have not reduced downtime incidents or severe impacts as much as expected. In fact, the stats are headed in the wrong direction. The Uptime Institute recently noted that over 60% of outages now cost over $100,000, up from 39% in 2019. Outages costing over $1 million also increased from 11% to 15%. Rather than merely removing humans from the loop, AI presents an opportunity to augment our best capabilities, putting people back in control with enhanced insight and reduced complexity. With proper governance and strategy, AI could succeed where policy-led efforts have fallen short. For example, machine learning algorithms could analyse historical telemetry, infrastructure topology, and documented failure scenarios to identify risk patterns difficult for human data centre operators to discern in siloed data sets. Operators tapping into these AI-generated insights could then take data-driven, thoughtful actions to strengthen

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vulnerabilities before outages occur. By assimilating vast analytical capabilities, AI can optimise workloads, infrastructure, and staff augmentation at new scales. Machine learning will enable predictive maintenance and management, versus reactive approaches. Specifically, AI could enable advances like: • Predictive diagnostics prescribed for assets using telemetry analysis, reducing downtime through repairs made before failures, not after • Workload balancing adapting to live needs, rather than static models, preventing overprovisioning of power and computing • Intelligent utility grid integration to act as a supply and demand partner for power and excess heat • Automated regulatory compliance via rapid data processing and documentation, reducing audit preparation time and costs • Local optimisation via distributed learning algorithms, improving resilience through increased autonomy at the edge • Virtual assistants enhancing human team collaboration, amplifying technician productivity, and reducing burnout • Autonomous infrastructure calibration adjusting dynamically, optimising cooling, power, networking, storage, and chip-level computing in real-time. Risks require diligent governance Integrating AI also presents challenges requiring diligent governance. It will be vital to address ethical risks around bias, transparency, and oversight through accountability and impact analysis and manage rapidly evolving cybersecurity vulnerabilities through continuous detectionresponse adaptation. There will need to be sizeable investments made in technology, tools, and training to develop in-house AI capabilities responsibly, and AI will need to be carefully integrated with legacy infrastructure, given interdependencies that are often opaque. Adoption of AI will need to be reasonably paced to build operational maturity in phases, focusing first on constrained use cases. Leaders must mandate rigorous testing and oversight regimes tailored to AI’s complexity. Advanced applications hold promise Sophisticated AI techniques have the potential to offer additional transformational advantages. One area of application is in natural language processing (NLP). NLP can be utilised to extract compliance insights from dense regulations and contracts. Another avenue is predictive telemetry analysis using statistical models tailored to specific asset configurations and failure distributions. Cybersecurity augmentation could also be utilised, simulating evolving threats to continuously harden defences. Nobody really knows how the future of AI in the data centre will play out. Whilst the path ahead remains shrouded, leaders can chart a course with care and vision. AI may yet transform rigid data centres into adaptive, resilient ecosystems – if organisations and people evolve alongside it responsibly. With patient governance and strategy, operations leaders can pioneer a new era where AI elevates rather than replaces.


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