The customer journey is continuously evolving, especially within the data center space. As a company that specializes in customer success in the high-tech space, Regalix was interested in learning more about Digital Realty’s customer success strategy. Regalix’s tech reporter, Jessica Ly, sat down with Digital Realty’s head of global marketing, Sherri Liebo, to better understand how we are powering customers’ digital ambitions. That starts with unpacking some of the latest trends that are affecting the data center industry.
Data Explosion Demands for Purpose-Built Data Centers
While it may seem obvious at this point, one of the biggest trends is of course the explosion of data that is happening. Liebo emphasizes the need to not only have more and more data centers globally but to have these data centers be purpose-built to accommodate the needs of data-intensive trends like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and IoT.
Secondly is the adoption of cloud. “We’re seeing both our Enterprise customers as well as the cloud providers really look for alternative sourcing options around the world in places they don’t want to build their own data centers or can’t build their own data centers,” Liebo explains. With high overhead costs and high volumes of time & resources spent on data center management, it makes more sense for customers and cloud providers to partner with a data center provider that already has purpose-built facilities in the right locations than to build their own data centers.
Reducing Carbon Footprint
It’s one thing to have purpose-built data centers that can accommodate this explosion of data, but it’s a moral and ethical responsibility of these providers to approach this in a sustainable way. “We have to be very thoughtful with how we build our data centers. They have to be sustainable because we could just completely consume all the power and water on the planet with our thirst for data,” Liebo says. She goes on to discuss a recent deal where Digital Realty sourced 80 MW of solar energy for Facebook to help with their commitment to renewable energy and reduce their carbon footprint. Digital Realty has their own substantial sustainability goals, including asking the question of when the company can be completely green by a certain date. With 1.2 gigawatts under management, that is no small feat. Learn more about sustainability at Digital Realty from our sustainability lead, Aaron Binkley.
When asked about edge computing and if that simply translates to micro data centers, Liebo explains it’s more nuanced than that. There will indeed be micro data centers but there’s still a need for a centralized core—or as she puts it, the “mothership”—for a subset of data to be processed. “Honestly, the self-driving car could be its own little data center. It’s running around with its own artificial intelligent device making tens of thousands of decisions in a split moment. A subset of that data needs to come back to the mothership, if you will, and be used. So what we think they’ll be is all these little mini transmission centers and it will come back to wherever the company has a data lake and those data lakes will indeed sit in those highly urbanized areas.”
Earlier this year, NVIDIA chose Digital Realty as a DGX partner to easily deploy AI workloads. Not all data centers are equipped to handle these high-density workloads which includes the need for state-of-the-art cooling technologies. Liebo explains that a decent density-of-a-rack metric is around 8 KW. But in order to implement NVIDIA’s DGX technology, you need 15-30 KW which is much more difficult to find in a data center provider. Fortunately, Digital Realty is able to provide that level of power at scale. “NVIDIA is a fantastic company…we’re great partners in that and we look forward to helping NVIDIA’s clients power their digital ambitions by getting that application in quickly because they don’t need to build their own data center to do it,” Liebo says.