AFCOM Presents Data Center World 2018 — Our Inside Look Into the Presentations and Innovations From Esri, NREL, and Johnson Controls

AFCOM Presents Data Center World 2018 — Our Inside Look Into the Presentations and Innovations From Esri, NREL, and Johnson Controls

TL; DR: Soon, more than 1,000 experts in data centers operations, facilities management, and IT infrastructure will converge on San Antonio for four days of networking, learning, and wandering a massive exhibit hall packed with the latest technologies. Data Center World provides real-world, vendor-neutral educational opportunities designed to help solve key challenges data center and IT professionals face every day. We checked in with AFCOM, longtime organizers of the conference, along with a handful of presenters worth seeing.

Covering everything from data center design and management to professional development, Data Center World is the premier opportunity for facilities, IT, and operations professionals to gather and learn about modern data center strategies and infrastructure innovations.

To get a sense of the people, companies, and technologies that have made Data Center World a go-to destination for more than 30 years, we spoke to a few presenters who are set to share their industry-leading innovations.

Esri’s John Parker, who has attended upward of 20 Data Center World conferences, organized a three-part workshop examining all things data center capacity optimization, while Tom Carter, Otto Van Geet, and David Sickinger are first-time participants who will be presenting about the energy efficiency of warm liquid cooling and a new technology from Johnson Controls that significantly reduces water usage at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory‘s high-performance computing data center.

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No matter attendee’s experiences, professionals from across the data center ecosystem will find valuable insights in Data Center World’s educational and networking events, according to AFCOM Association Director Sarah Markey.

“Some are working in hybrid scenarios, some are on-premises, some are in the cloud, and some have this mix of all three,” she said. “What they’ll find at Data Center World is that we have education that covers all of it.”

The Details: How to Attend Data Center World 2018

With more than 100 expert speakers and 180 sponsors and exhibitors, Data Center World features more than 20 hours of networking events and 22 hours of educational opportunities. Here’s what you need to know for attending this year’s Data Center World:

  • Who: Facilities and IT managers, C-level executives, engineers, consultants, and other data center professionals from a variety of industries
  • What: A global conference for vendor-neutral education, industry-leading speakers, abundant networking, and ample access to vendors
  • Where: San Antonio, Texas
  • When: March 12-15, 2018
  • Why: Data Center World is known for its relevant, timely, and practical educational sessions and networking events, combined with a gigantic exhibit hall filled with the latest technologies

Learning tracks cover IT infrastructure, modern data center strategies, security, and several other topics. Read on for two of the sessions we’re most excited about.

Data Center Capacity Optimization With Esri

In his 21 years of Data Center Worlds, John Parker has gained two jobs and attended the conference both as an end user and as a vendor. In fact, his 11-year career in disaster recovery and global data center management at GIS mapping software leader Esri began with a fateful trip to Data Center World in Las Vegas.

“I fell in love with the company, the place, and the people,” he said. “It never would have happened had I not gone to Data Center World.”

Image of John Parker and Esri logo

John Parker handles disaster recovery and global data center management for Esri, the company behind ArcGIS.

This year, he put together what he calls an all-star cast of the best people and tools for a workshop called Data Center Capacity Optimization – for IT People Only! Broken into three sections — IT load, environmental considerations, and power and space — the hands-on workshop will enable participants to work in small groups to solve real-world problems before comparing results with 3D models of the optimized solutions.

“They’re like three cogs in a gear,” John said of the elements of capacity planning. “You can’t run an optimized data center without all three cogs.”

When asked for his expert opinion on the best part of attending Data Center World, John couldn’t pick one component.

“It’s like cooking something in a crock pot,” he said. “You add a few ingredients here and there, you let it simmer for a little while, and you mesh it all together into something delicious.”

Energy-Efficient Data Centers With NREL and Johnson Controls

When the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) aimed to push the boundaries of sustainability in a datacenter with its high-performance computing data center, Tom Carter and Johnson Controls thought the company’s BlueStream hybrid cooling system could add even more efficiency.

“Normally, the heat rejection system is a binary decision: water or dry air cooling, and that’s the end of it,” said Tom, Senior Manager of Heat Rejection Technology. “A hybrid approach is ideally the best way to go. You operate water cooling on your hottest days of the year when you really need to maximize energy-efficiency, but you can use dry air cooling as the weather cools to handle the year-round, constant load from IT equipment.”

Images of Tom Carter, Otto Van Geet, and David Sickinger with Johnson Controls and NREL logos

Tom Carter, Otto Van Geet, and David Sickinger will team up to share the lessons learned from the hybrid cooling system.

Although NREL set the mark in terms of energy efficiency, Principal Engineer Otto Van Geet said the data center consumed a large amount of water.

“The data center, first and foremost, has to meet your computing needs, obviously, but you can do all those things without compromising energy efficiency or water consumption,” he said, adding that NREL found added operational savings with the hybrid cooling system by eliminating the need for chillers.

After retrofitting the NREL datacenter with the BlueStream thermosyphon cooling system, Johnson Controls and NREL are teaming up to share their story in a session called Lessons Learned from the World’s Most Energy-Efficient Data Center.

“The nice thing about going to conferences is you’re often surprised by things that weren’t even on your radar screen,” Tom said. “I’m really excited to share what we’ve done, and I think we have a really nice success story to tell, in terms of the basic metrics we’ve achieved. But there will be a lot of opportunities to see what other people are doing and how they’re advancing and further integrating with new technologies.”

New This Year: AFCOM Leadership Shares Networking Events

Beyond the hands-on learning and real-world success stories, Data Center World offers a multitude of options to connect with fellow attendees, according to AFCOM Association Director Sarah Markey.

For the first time in 2018, for example, attendees can use a service to coordinate meetings during the speed networking event.

“It’s kind of like speed dating,” Sarah said. “Using a service that helps pair people together, you put in your expertise and enter the things you’re interested in learning about. The algorithm does the matchmaking and sets your appointments for you.”

For attendees looking to make deeper connections or who might be going to the conference on their own, they can sign up for Un-Hosted Networking Dinners and join a small group of Data Center World participants at a local restaurant.

“It’s another effort to help people make deeper connections with different networking opportunities that can really drive their careers,” Sarah said. “No better way to connect with people than with a glass of wine off the convention floor.”

Laura Bernheim

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