The Adaptive Datacenter: Aligned is Reimagining Server Infrastructure to Facilitate a Brighter Future

Aligned Is Reimagining The Datacenter

TL; DR: Aligned provides cloud, enterprise, and managed service providers (MSPs) with sustainable, scalable datacenter infrastructure built to last. The company’s innovative Delta3 cooling technology allows users to expand on demand without reconfiguring infrastructure. Through Aligned’s dynamic infrastructure, customers can lower the cost of ownership while essentially future-proofing their operations.

Datacenters have been around in one form or another since they were used to operate early mainframe computers in the 1940s. And while the processing capability of IT infrastructure has grown exponentially, powering business operations far and wide, its fundamental structure hasn’t changed all that much.

“The components that you build into a datacenter have been the same for many decades — the raised floors, the Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRACs) and Computer Room Air Handlers (CRAHs), the uninterruptible power supply (UPS),” said Phill Lawson-Shanks, Chief Innovation Officer at Aligned.

Phill Lawson-Shanks, Chief Innovation Officer, and Aligned logo

Phill Lawson-Shanks, Chief Innovation Officer, told us how Aligned is evolving the datacenter.

But old-fashioned datacenter infrastructure no longer meets the needs of modern businesses, especially in terms of sustainability and scalability.

An estimated 1.7MB of data is created every second by every person on the planet at our current pace — a figure that is bound to increase in step with the Internet of Things (IoT). At the same time, consumer demand for responsible, sustainable business practices is greater than ever.

That’s where Aligned comes in. The infrastructure technology company, founded in 2013, is on a mission to evolve the data center as we know it using innovative power and cooling methods and an adaptive structure.

Aligned’s data center solutions and patented cooling technology reduce the energy, water, and space required to maintain the facilities, providing cloud, enterprise, and managed service providers (MSPs) an edge over their competitors in terms of reliability, sustainability, and the bottom line.

A Mission to Create the Most Sustainable Datacenters on the Planet

Aligned’s founders started the company seven years ago, knowing that there had to be a better way to design datacenters.

“They looked at the key things like the cooling technology, which had pretty much been the same since Carl Munters invented it in the 1920s,” Phill said. “They took the traditional models and basically tore them apart. The first iteration of the new cooling technology was an overhead unit, which was incredibly efficient. And they then adapted that to the wall unit that we have today, which we call the Delta Cube (Delta³).”

Instead of just pushing cold air into the datacenter like systems of the past, Delta³ Arrays capture and remove heat at its source. The result is a scalable and environmentally efficient system that is flexible and adaptable. Cloud service providers can implement it in new datacenters or use it to update existing infrastructure.

Aligned

Aligned helps cloud, enterprise, and managed service providers meet scalability and sustainability objectives.

“We can have a mixed capacity of 50-plus kilowatts of cooling in every cabinet, whereas with the traditional build, you have up to 10 kilowatts per cabinet, maybe with 25-plus kilowatts in key areas where you can force the air,” Phill said. “That just doesn’t cut it with today’s hyperscalers or the sophistication of enterprise customers.”

The technology also consumes less space, electricity, and water than older models, resulting in measurable cost savings. It boasts an impressive Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratio as low as 1.15 (a PUE of 1.0 indicates the fabled 100% efficiency).

“We make sure we buy renewable energy wherever available,” Phill said. “For USPs, we use lithium titanate oxide batteries, which are safer since the cells can be much closer together than traditional lithium ions and provide and faster recharge and recycle time. Everything that we do is designed to give maximum sustainability and cost-effectiveness to the customer.”

Recently, increasing environmental awareness on the part of customers has forced businesses to embrace sustainable practices, Phill said.

“The hyperscalers are saying they’re going to be carbon neutral, or carbon-negative in the next 10 years or less,” he said. “They’re really forcing this state change, which is fantastic.”

Seamless Deployment and Configuration Across Environments

Digital transformation has been the story of the past decade as businesses migrate to cloud and hybrid environments. As a result, many providers choose to over-provision their resources to meet the evolving needs of these businesses and avoid the risk of capacity constraints.

With Aligned, there’s no need to pay for underutilized resources. The company’s dynamic solutions scale seamlessly as businesses grow. Ultimately, this adaptive server infrastructure eases the burden of long-range planning and reduces the total cost of ownership.

“Our customers can start off deploying just their core, along with a base technology platform to establish this new zone or market presence,” Phill said. “As they see this new market expand, they can simply roll in more cabinets and expand their platform to meet the need. If required, we’ll simply provision additional Delta Cubes, allowing the customers customer to scale in place within the same footprint, without the need to reconfigure infrastructure or deploy exotic supplementary and costly cooling systems.”

This expand-on-demand solution, enabled by Aligned’s Delta³ cooling technologies, leads to increased cost savings and operational efficiency — making their customers’ jobs that much easier.

Taking a Big Picture Approach to Server Infrastructure

Aligned opened its first datacenter in Plano, Texas, in 2016, followed by a facility in Phoenix in 2017. Since then, the company has launched additional datacenters in Salt Lake City and Ashburn, Virginia.

“We started to build a hyperscale datacenter campus in Ashburn, and before we’d even finished building the first one, we had sold all of the infrastructure,” Phill said. “We’re more than halfway through building our second, and that will be fully completed in the next couple of months. We’re looking at other land parcels around the market across North America and Europe.”

Phill told us the market is booming as workers continue to adopt a work-from-home lifestyle to facilitate social distancing in the age of COVID-19.

“We’re fortunate to have the ability to adapt quickly — let’s say we are building something in Salt Lake and we see that Ashburn, Phoenix, or a new market is going to develop faster, we can just divert those resources very quickly and easily,” he said.

In this way, Aligned’s model is based on longevity and long-term thinking. Phill said Macquarie Infrastructure Partners (MIP), one of Aligned’s investors, helps the company operate in such a manner.

In addition to infrastructure, Aligned has expanded its intellectual property assets over the years. The company’s continuous focus on innovation has led to more than 50 patents and 500 patent claims in cooling technology, reflecting its commitment to environmental stewardship.

Just Launched: The Next Evolution of Delta³ Cooling

In November, Aligned announced the release of significant upgrades to Delta³ resulting in greater cooling capacity. The improvements allow for more flexible customer IT loads and higher densities.

“The technological improvements we’ve made on our patented Delta³ cooling system are game-changers, enabling even greater vertical densification and more efficient use of space and infrastructure to support our customers’ on-demand capacity growth,” Andrew Schaap, CEO of Aligned, said in a recent press release.

Aligned also received $1 billion in sustainability-linked financing, which will be tied to the company’s core environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). To that end, Aligned intends to match 100% of its annual energy consumption with certified zero-carbon renewable energy by 2024.