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Q&A – Gabriel Faulkner on NFINIT’s Data Center Critical Infrastructure Upgrades

By May 24, 2022May 31st, 2022No Comments7 min read

Businesses across California and the Southwest have been feeling the pain related to increasing power costs. Over the last three years, power costs in San Diego alone have risen by about 41%, leaving many of our clients asking, “How do we reduce the impact to our businesses?”

NFINIT, a LightEdge company, is doing its part to control power costs for customers, while also ensuring high performance and reliability. NFINIT recently invested $8 million in critical infrastructure upgrades across its two San Diego data centers. The upgrades will increase the efficiency of the facilities and cloud equipment while reducing the impact of ever-rising power costs.

In this article, Gabriel Faulkner, NFINIT’s VP of Critical Infrastructure, discusses the various improvements and how they will benefit customers.

 

Q: Why did NFINIT implement this major upgrade?

The primary reasons for this upgrade are to boost energy efficiency and to ensure we maintain the highest levels of reliability for our customers. As data center operators entrusted with mission-critical company data for our customers, as near 100% uptime as possible is always going to be our top priority.

We also see it as an important goal to constantly improve our facilities’ efficiency, and in turn, our sustainability. Power costs are steadily increasing in San Diego, and most technology providers plan to pass the increased fees on to their clients. Instead, we’ve invested in infrastructure improvements that will allow NFINIT to alleviate the utility-fee burden for our customers as much as possible, enabling us to pass on less of that increased cost to our clients, as a percentage. Over the last three years, power costs in San Diego have risen by about 41%, and NFINIT has only passed on roughly 13% of that increase to our customers.

 

Q: How will these changes benefit NFINIT’s clients?

This major investment in our infrastructure translates to significant customer benefits in three areas: sustainability, reliability, and cost stabilization.

Reliability is part of our DNA and is critical to keeping clients’ data safe. Also, by increasing NFINIT’s power effectiveness by 20%, we’re keeping pace with data growth trends in a more sustainable way, while helping to mitigate rising power costs for our clients. With the backing of our new partnership with LightEdge, a strong promoter of ESG initiatives, our flagship data center on Lightwave Avenue is on track to becoming the most sustainable data center in the San Diego area.

Together, NFINIT and LightEdge have future investments planned to further increase NFINIT’s energy efficiency. LightEdge is committed to green practices and has several corporate sustainability initiatives in place, including its purpose-built data centers, which minimize environmental impact.

 

Q: What’s your view on San Diego as a colocation or disaster recovery (DR) location?

San Diego is an ideal location for a data center, particularly when it comes to the most important factors: uptime and reliability. We don’t have to deal with extreme weather conditions that many other cities face. We generally don’t experience hurricanes, tornadoes, or 115-degree heat, for example. Now we’re solving for the one remaining regional challenge: power costs.

I’ll take it a step further and say that NFINIT’s flagship data center in San Diego is a wonderful spot for colocation and DR because it was also purpose-built as a data center to Department of Defense specs. Unlike many data centers, which were converted from warehouse space or previously used in another capacity, our Lightwave Avenue facility has always been a data center. Therefore, critical efficiency and reliability considerations such as air flow and physical security were optimized from the beginning.

 

Q: Can you elaborate on the various infrastructure improvements and why they are significant?

We continually look at ways to ensure the utmost in reliability, security, and cost-efficiency for our data center customers. These upgrades enable us to maintain our high performance now and into the future. Over the last decade, data center technology has continued to improve, particularly in the area of power usage efficiency. The new equipment we’ve installed will allow us to use less power to deliver service to our customers.

In fact, by the time we’re done implementing these measures, our power usage effectiveness (PUE), which is a common industry metric for measuring energy efficiency, will reach 1.25 PUE. That’s fantastic for a data center. I like to emphasize that this is real PUE, not based on carbon credits, which some companies use to manipulate their PUE numbers. Some folks are also removing infrastructure from their PUE computation to lower their score, which is another manipulative tactic. We calculate our PUE number the traditional way, by following the data center’s power path and taking the reading at the primary substation’s input side. The IT equipment energy reading should be measured as close to the final load as possible, typically after the power distribution unit (PDU), and that’s how we calculate it.

Specifically, the key improvements include updating the cloud infrastructure (both hardware and software), replacing the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), and adding new chillers. Each of these upgrades is significant in terms of maintaining reliability and boosting efficiency. For instance, UPS is a battery system that maintains operations in the event of a power outage. This is a critical component of ensuring reliable uptime for a data center. By installing a new and improved UPS, we provide more tiers of protection and security for our customer’s data and extremely reliable outage protection.

Chillers, meanwhile, are important for maintaining the cooler temperatures needed for optimal operation of servers and other sensitive IT equipment. We’re installing some of the most efficient chillers on the market today. The new chillers are significantly more efficient than the current version. They also use an environmentally friendly refrigerant that is inline with NFINIT’s Green Initiatives.

The other critical piece of our upgrade was installing hardware and software to beef up our cloud infrastructure. Though NFINIT used to be more of a traditional colocation and network services provider under the name AIS Technology Services, our rebrand to NFINIT in 2020 marked a new era of growth for the company. It reflected the evolution of our company into a full stack technology services provider, and a huge part of that shift was doubling down in cloud services for our clients. In 2020 and 2021, NFINIT invested over $15.5 million in technology platforms, network, and facilities and increased the year-over-year investment in our operations, support, and engineering teams. NFINIT’s cloud offerings have quickly become some of our most popular services, so this year’s cloud infrastructure upgrades are a continuation of that ongoing shift and investment in the cloud.

 

Q: In addition to NFINIT’s infrastructure, what other key differentiators separate NFINIT from competitors?

We view maintenance as extremely important and staff our data centers accordingly. If a data center provider has the fanciest, most expensive equipment on the market but fails to maintain it properly and doesn’t staff the right experts for any potential issues (which WILL inevitably arise), that company might as well have the cheapest possible infrastructure. While many of our local competitors use on-call contractors for their maintenance needs, we keep critical maintenance experts on staff — and we also have on-call support on staff in case of an emergency. That means we can quickly respond if an issue arises. That’s a huge differentiator.

Also, our support in general is a well-known differentiator at NFINIT. Check out this case study about our NOC team to learn more.

 

Q: Why are more and more companies abandoning in-house data centers and turning to outsourced facilities like NFINIT?

At NFINIT, we offer many advantages that are prompting companies to move their operations to our data centers. Among these are cost-efficiencies, reliability, security, 24/7/365 support, industry knowledge, and access to our tools. Perhaps most importantly is our ability to understand our customers’ challenges and meet them with clearly defined solutions. In addition, the corporate world has seen a shift away from office space during the pandemic, which in turn often necessitates a new home for on-premises data centers. With the cost of real estate rising and employees proving they’re just as productive working from home, colocation has become increasingly more popular.

Learn more about our Lightwave data center here.

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