Datacenter Interviews

“Submer is a trailblazer and our innovations will be the catalyst to re-define datacenter design and operations”— Jeff Brown, MD North America, Submer Immersion Cooling

The modern businesses run on data. This data is housed by data centers within thousands of servers. The demand for datacenter capacity has increased manifolds in the last few years. But, these datacenters have a profound impact on our environment.

The power consumed by the servers churning information is responsible for the rising operational costs and growing carbon emissions. But not everybody is fully aware of this and the time has come for datacenters to be more efficient AND greener.

We interviewed Jeff Brown, Managing Director North America, Submer Immersion Cooling. Submer provides highly efficient, eco-friendly immersion cooling for the datacenters that helps save up to 99% of cooling costs and up to 87% of the physical space. This helps enterprises save energy while helping reduce global warming.

Jeff has over 25 years of experience in data center sales and operations. Before Submer, Brown has served as CCO for UK2 Group and Vice President of Sales for Savvis, the $1.5 billion cloud infrastructure and hosted technology services division of CenturyLink. He also held commercial leadership positions at VeriSign, Equinix and CompuServe; and developed an impressive reputation for building, scaling and restoring growth to technology sales organizations.

Read on as he discusses his new role at Submer, why immersion cooling is important for the greener future of the data centers and more.

1. Let’s start with a brief overview of your new role at Submer Immersion Cooling as the Managing Director, North America.

I am the first Submer employee to be based in the United States and am focused on establishing and scaling our business in North America.  Initially, this includes developing market & brand awareness; building local manufacturing capacity; coordinating partner support; and growing our customer base.

2. With an experience of more than 25 years in Data Center Sales and Operations, what opportunities do you see in the Northern American market for Submer datacenter solutions?

At the risk of stating the obvious, the datacenter industry continues to grow and evolve at a breakneck pace.  This unabated growth has attracted many new entrants and new ideas about how to provide technology services more effectively.

Submer is one of these trailblazers and we believe our innovations will be the catalyst to completely re-defining how datacenters are designed and operated.  In fact, re-thinking the datacenter will unlock new innovations for OEMs and software developers too.  And all of that will revolutionize the economics of providing digital services around the globe. Pretty heady stuff!

3. Tell us about Submer’s webinar on HPC Immersion cooling – first in a series of webinars about HPC.

Our first priority is to help educate the market about the capabilities and benefits of using liquid as the primary method for managing heat in the datacenter.  One way we are doing this, at the macro level, is to host a monthly webinar to share knowledge and real-world applications of this technology.  It’s convenient, low-cost and quickly addresses our audience around the globe.

We chose to focus on the High-Performance Computing (HPC) community first since it adopted liquid cooling strategies long ago and there is a great deal of empirical, real-world evidence of what can be accomplished.  We were fortunate to have Daniele Rispoli from ClusterVision join us as a respected expert in HPC and Super-computing to share his insights.

4. That’s a great initiative. If correct, you will soon be having a second webinar on Hardware Design Considerations for Immersion Cooling on 5th March. Could you tell our readers about it?

Yes, our next webinar is right around the corner and, like the first, will feature an industry expert to share insights on what server manufactures are doing to prepare their equipment to exploit the benefits of full immersion cooling solutions like ours.  In this case, Alain Wilmouth, the CEO of 2CSRI will join Submer’s CEO, Daniel Pope, on March 5th.  Your readers can register here.

5. What’s your take on the immersion cooling vs air cooling and how do you see the market demand?

Well, there is a great deal to discuss about the differences between air and liquid cooling systems and why organizations are motivated to consider making a change.  If I had to distill it down to a couple of points, I’d highlight five key things:

  • Efficiency: Liquid is more than 1,000 times more efficient than air at transferring heat.
  • Proven: Liquid cooling solutions have been perfected, deployed around the world and are reliable.
  • Cost Effective: Liquid cooling solutions are less expensive to build and operate than air-based systems.
  • Workforce Safety: Liquid cooling solutions significantly improve the workplace environment compared to air-based systems.
  • Green: Liquid cooling solutions conserve much more of our planet’s critical resources than air-based systems.

In terms of demand, there is no question that it’s been building rapidly in the last few years and becoming more ubiquitous across all IT segments.  We are seeing broad interest across private and public industries, geographies and workload capacities.

6. Why immersion cooling for HPC, hyperscalers and datacenters is important for the greener future of data centers?

As a whole, datacenters currently consume 6% of the electricity generated worldwide and its projected to be as high as 20% in a few years; and within the datacenter, hyperscalers and HPC are by far the largest class of users.  And, despite a great deal of progress in the last decade, most electricity is still produced from non-renewable sources.

So, the datacenter industry as a whole can have the greatest impact on its carbon profile by targeting the largest users first; however, the benefits of liquid immersion cooling on the environment is applicable to users of all sizes.

7. What are the building blocks for the NextGen Data Center? Please comment in light of Submer’s cutting-edge cleantech solution.

The next generation of datacenters will be orders of magnitude more efficient.  All of the critical resources in play within a datacenter (land, electricity, water, money) become better utilized by switching to a liquid immersion cooling solution.  Denser computing deployments mean we can do more with less.  I also expect datacenter operation to become more automated through the use of robotic technologies; which is another area Submer is developing.

8. You have held various leadership roles so far. What factors drive/can drive growth in technology sales organizations amidst the dynamic technology landscape?

In many ways, as dynamic as the high-tech industry is; the key to sales success has really stayed the same in my opinion.  Listen, be responsive and create value for your customer.  It’s easier said than done, of course, but leading with these three ingredients has never failed to produce a high-performing, feared and revered sales team for me.  It helps to have a great product too!

Also read: CERN to use Submer’s SmartPod solution for datacenter cooling and high-density computing

9. So, in your leadership, what new developments can we look forward to at Submer?

Considering that 50% of the global datacenter capacity is centered in the US along with most of the hyperscalers, I expect we will quickly ramp up our profile and organization here to meet the burgeoning demand.  It will surely be a team effort, but, personally, I hope to be central to building a truly great organization that is, in fact, revered in our market and a highly sought-after place to work.  Perhaps, if I’m lucky, I can one day claim a legitimate contribution to making the world a better place for all its inhabitants.

10. Besides work, what are you passionate about?

At work, I put a lot of emphasis on work-life balance with the people I can influence.  I also practice what I preach.  So, for me, being present and involved in the lives of my family and friends is at the top of the list.  More specifically, I try to be outdoors and active whenever possible.  If I’m not thinking about cooling the datacenter, you’ll find me mountain biking, golfing or zipping across the wake on an old-school slalom ski.

Articles Business

Why immersion cooling is imminent to power the next generation datacenters?

Real-time video streaming, online gaming as well as mobile devices already account for 60% of all data traffic, and it is predicted that this will rise to 80% by 2020 – ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.

In our always on life style- whether we like something on Facebook, stream the latest movie or post on Instagram, we generate huge amount of data. Every online activity involves massive amounts of data that’s stored in different datacenters, ranging from small closets to large server rooms to mammoth like cloud datacenters.

Datacenters power our connected devices and store billions of gigabytes of data which we and business organizations use, to meet our daily transaction processing needs, across the globe. These datacenters house IT equipment – servers, networking and storage equipment, and consume massive energy to run them and to cool the heat which dissipates from the IT equipment.

“Cooling is by far the biggest user of electrical power in the data center,” says Steve Carlini, global director of data center solution marketing at Schneider Electric, a vendor of data center power and cooling products. “That area may take up to 40 or 50 percent of all the power going into your data center.”

Global datacenter energy consumption is increasing as data centers usually run round the clock, throughout the year and consume roughly 3% of all the globally generated power. They generate approximately 4% of greenhouse gas emissions, and this places ICT industry at par with the airline industry. Global CO2 emissions of data centers are estimated to have the fastest growing carbon footprint from across the whole ICT sector.

The intense power requirements needed to run and cool data centers now account for almost a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions from ICT, according to analyst firm Gartner.

How much energy does a server farm/ data center consume?

According to a report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, data centers are on track to use 73 billion kwh by 2020. If not for increase in efficiency since 2010, data centers would likely be using 200 billion kwh by 2020. They predict that data center energy use will grow by 4% between 2014 and 2020.

The power draw for data centers range according to their sizes. For a rack of servers in a closet, power draw is few kilowatts and it is several tens of Megawatt for large data centers. They consume electricity equivalent to be used by a small town. This growing energy consumption is one of the biggest data center power problems.

As stated above, it can not only be attributed primarily to the IT demands and cooling equipment, but to lighting, power distribution and other requirements as well. The cooling system accounts for up to 40% in average of the energy, with the most efficient systems using 24% of the total energy and the least efficient 61%.

The datacenter power is distributed to chillers, cooling towers and water pumps.

Water chillers are the most energy-consuming since they supply chilled water to the cooling coil in order to keep the indoor temperature low enough to remove the heat emitted by the servers and other equipment.

Datacenters, Cooling and Technological Advances

Over the last few years, the demand for data centers among cloud service providers, enterprises, government agencies, colocation providers and telecommunication organizations has increased exponentially due to the adoption of advanced technologies such as cloud-based services for their operational business needs.

Also, there has been a rapid growth of new technological trends like big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence/machine learning, cryptocurrencies and Internet of Things.

This rapid growth of machine learning and AI applications is contributing to the building up of new services, enhanced products and is also boosting demand for powerful high – performance computing hardware. This rising popularity in turn is driving demand for more data centre space and have design implications for high-density racks to be powered and cooled.

Bitcoin mining also burns huge amount of electricity. Below screengrab shows the rising index of Bitcoin energy consumption.

Thus, the trends of increasing data center capacity and power use by information technology equipment, re-emphasize the need to reduce cooling load and data centre PUE to form green data centers/green IT.

What is PUE? Power usage effectiveness(PUE) is the metric used to determine data centre energy efficiency. An ideal PUE is 1.0. which indicates the maximum attainable efficiency with no overhead energy.

Datacenter cooling solutions – Traditional (Air Cooling) vs Liquid immersion cooling

Cooling solutions are an integral part of data centers and they can be classified into two types namely, air-based and liquid-based cooling.

Air based cooling Liquid immersion cooling
Hard to reduce PUE under 2 PUE of less than 2
Air circulation is uneven Coolant is evenly pumped through the pod
Installation costs are large 25% less implementation costs as compared to air solution
Raised flooring requirements No raised floorings
Large server rooms require extra air fans No need to move any air
Hardware requires fans Does not require fans
Air pushes hazardous particles Sealed and clean environment
Noisy environment – Fans and Indoor units generate more than 80db noise Silent operation environment

Why immersion cooling is imminent to power the next generation datacenters?

With air based datacenter cooling methods, cooling high-density racks is very difficult, and a complete server room is full of high-density racks.

Liquid immersion cooling deployed datacenters are more compact, modular, green and highly efficient. They save up to 99 percent electricity than traditional data center cooling which uses chillers, heat pump and HVAC.

Server immersion cooling allows companies to drastically reduce their data center energy load, irrespective of their PUE. Hardware or servers are kept submerged in a liquid (generally oil based) which is dielectric and thermally conductive.

This liquid submersion cooling technology allows data centers to use evaporative or adiabatic cooling towers instead of chiller-based air cooling.

Use cases: Current commercial applications for immersion cooling range from data center oriented solutions for commodity server cooling, bitcoin mining, server clusters, HPCC applications, cloud-based and web hosting architectures.

Thus, demand for these oil-based data center solutions is on the rise and offerings too have become more professionalized.

Barcelona based Immersion cooling solution startup, Submer Technologies need a special mention here for their oil-based data center product.

Submer- A way to socially responsible data centers

Submer has developed a cooling solution for data centers based on immersion cooling, keeping in mind the pains of operating hardware in data centers. Submer’s immersion cooling solution uses coolant fluid which is 100% biodegradable dielectric fluid and ensures best PUE of 1.03.

This server cooling system by Submer helps its users to achieve >45% savings on traditional electricity bill and hyper scaler efficiency.

It allows datacenters to extract 5o KW heat capacity in 22u format.

Product helps in increasing computing density per sqm. It can be put next to racks. Thus, users can save 75% of the space by placing more units one by the other. Each device has 50 KW heat dissipating capacity.

You can scale it to any volume in a very small space as it is 1mx 120.

Use cases: Any infrastructure or hardware. Built for hosters, cloud providers, regular datacenters, edge computing, cryptocurrency mining, blockchain and research datacenters.

“It’s mainly the mindset that needs to be changed, everyone is used to air- based cooling systems and its kind from 6os we have been working from the same way, but working with a fluid is just as comfortable as we have designed it in a way that extracting a server placing it or maintenance rails being able to switch some hardware and dipping it back in takes you exactly the same time that it would be in an air it’s easy to use and integrate. You can retrofit existing hardware running in base tracks very easily into existing data center infrastructure or deployed as stand-alone”.- Daniel Pope, Co-founder & CEO, Submer.

SmartPod and Crypto pod: Two solutions in two sizes

  • SmartPod: This datacenter immersion cooling solution is optimized for variable workloads. It comes in a 22u and 45u configuration to dissipate 25kW – 50kW plus. SmartPod 45u is for medium density servers and Smart Pod 22u for HPC / high density computing.
  • CryptoPod: This product is built specifically for crypto blockchain and is optimized for always-on workloads like bitcoin BTC / cryptocurrency mining, blockchain.

Many data center operators struggle with data centre management with increased OPEX year-over-year due to increased power consumption by cooling systems but Submer promises ROI in less than a year.

Thus, with immersion cooling deployment, the green revolution technology, data center operators can build data center facilities to deliver high efficiency and reduce power consumption.