Jonathan Gould, Vice-President, North America, EkkoSense, tells Intelligent CIO how EkkoSense can provide significant benefits to businesses looking to optimize their data center performance. He reveals that EkkoSense’s clients usually achieve a reduction in data center cooling energy usage ranging from 10% to 20% and highlights how EkkoSense’s AI technology can revolutionize the way data center operators manage their facilities.
What’s your background in the data center sector?
Based in Austin, Texas, I joined EkkoSense in 2022 from Schneider Electric where I spent 10 years as Software Sales Manager driving sales of the company’s EcoStruxure data center operations and monitoring and control software. Before that I was a Data Center Infrastructure Management Consultant for APC, joining the company in 2005 when APC acquired NetBotz and its suite of data center environmental and video monitoring solutions.
What attracted you to the EkkoSense role?
EkkoSense is a rapidly growing global SaaS company that’s increasingly recognized as the smart choice for data center teams looking to take their operational performance to the next level. Unlike traditional, IT-led DCIM based approaches, EkkoSense offers a distinctive, light-touch AI-enabled software-driven thermal optimization approach and, as EkkoSense’s Vice President of North American Operations, there’s a great opportunity to build on the company’s success to date across the Americas region.
So how is EkkoSense different to traditional data center optimization approaches?
Everything EkkoSense does is informed by engineering first principles – with core heat transfer and thermodynamics disciplines at the heart of the EkkoSense business and proposition. The company offers a deep understanding of energy efficiency and heat transfer across all aspects of critical facilities – from HVAC, building services and facilities management through to the latest revolutionary clean tech and energy-efficient systems. The result is a far more holistic data center optimization approach that works to bring together the IT and M&E spaces.
How does the EkkoSense approach differ to traditional DCIM propositions?
While most EkkoSense customers already have some form of traditional DCIM capability in place, EkkoSense complements these to provide essential thermal optimization capabilities. The company’s EkkoSoft Critical solution brings together a mix of patented technologies and capabilities – including an innovative SaaS platform, low-cost Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, Machine Learning, gaming-class 3D visualization and Digital Twin capabilities, AI analytics and embedded advisory support – all backed by EkkoSense’s PhD-level thermal and engineering skills.
New levels of granular real-time sensing support temperature and humidity monitoring, contributing directly to the effectiveness of the Machine Learning algorithms that support continuous improvements in optimization. The software also enables data center teams to visualize complex data quickly and easily via Digital Twins enabled by EkkoSoft Critical’s powerful 3D visualization capabilities. And the application of AI analytics provides the operational insights that help them to remove thermal and power risk, optimize cooling capacity and minimize energy waste.
How will the application of Machine Learning and AI help to redefine data center optimization?
Instead of being swamped by too much performance data, operations teams can now take advantage of Machine Learning to gather data at a much more granular level – meaning they can start to access how their data center is performing in real-time. The key is to make this accessible, and using smart 3D visualizations is a great way of making it easy for data center teams to interpret performance data at a deeper level: for example, by showing changes and highlighting anomalies.
The next stage is to apply Machine Learning and AI analytics to provide insights. By augmenting measured datasets with Machine Learning algorithms, data center teams can immediately benefit from easy-to-understand insights to help support their real-time optimization decisions. The combination of real-time granular data collection every five minutes and AI/Machine Learning analytics allows operations not just to see what is happening across their critical facilities but also find out why.
AI and Machine Learning powered analytics can also uncover the insights required to recommend changes across key areas such as optimum set points, floor grille layouts, cooling unit operation and fan speed adjustments. Thermal analysis will also indicate optimum rack locations. And because AI enables real-time visualizations, data center teams can quickly gain immediate performance feedback on any actioned changes.
Our EkkoSoft Critical AI-powered optimization software not only shows what’s happening, but also why – allowing data center teams to make informed decisions on how to resolve issues. And, by introducing powerful algorithms that correlate the relationship between the critical infrastructure and IT load, they can materially reduce potential downtime events through continual optimization. The software observes changes in the environment in real-time and will often inform you that a failure is going to occur long before it materializes. With EkkoSense AI you can make the invisible, visible – effectively changing the game for data center operators.
Where do concepts such as Digital Twins fit into redefined data center optimization?
Digital Twins represent a powerful subset of the virtual space, providing operations teams with a digital replica of a key corporate asset such as a data center or other critical facility.
Taking advantage of the dramatically increasing volume of data points from Internet of Things based wireless sensors, Digital Twins have the potential to provide data center teams with a more accessible visualization of their operation’s real-time performance. That’s why at EkkoSense we were quick to adopt immersive, lightweight, gaming-engine based Digital Twin technology to make immersive real-time optimization of data center rooms a reality.
What role do you see in AI-enabled optimization in terms of helping to meet ESG requirements?
At EkkoSense we recognize the increased pressure customers are under to reduce data center energy consumption as part of their corporate ESG initiatives and broader carbon reduction goals. And with Scope 3 encompassing emissions that are not produced by the client itself, colocation firms are particularly aware that reductions here will quickly become a key differentiator in their marketplace. AI-enabled data center optimization software helps to remove thermal and power risk across estates, enabling your operations teams to continually right-size cooling capacity. EkkoSense customers typically secure between 10-20% reductions in data center cooling energy use.
How are you helping data center teams to ‘adjust their thermostats’?
The benefits of raising temperatures in data centers can have a far-reaching positive impact on operating efficiency. Existing cooling units can run more efficiently and chillers will require less power. Adjusting temperature windows will also lead to significant energy efficiency gains across the whole cooling chain. However, raising operating temperatures will also require much more granular environmental monitoring than is generally seen today, along with new methods to understand, analyze and act on the implications of this change. That’s where EkkoSense can help.
What kind of results and benefits are we seeing from this kind of AI-enabled software optimization?
Organizations working with EkkoSense are now able to see the benefits of AI and Machine Learning data center performance optimization in action. In contrast to thermal consultants who may just suggest potential improvements, operations teams working with EkkoSoft Critical experience a number of key benefits, including:
- Removing thermal and power risk – by identifying potential risks earlier, eliminating thermal hotspots and achieving 100% rack-level ASHRAE thermal compliance
- Optimizing data center cooling capacity – EkkoSense lets teams release any stranded cooling and power capacity, helping them to run their data centers much leaner
- Minimizing energy waste – EkkoSense helps to optimize performance with data center cooling cost reductions of up to 20% and deployment within weeks
- Supporting corporate ESG programmes – with quantifiable carbon savings, EkkoSense makes a great partner for data centers and colocation partners looking to deliver on their corporate ESG goals and reporting requirements
- Rapid ROI – with project costs typically covered by cooling energy savings alone and deployment within weeks, EkkoSense customers typically experience ROI < 12 months
Given the continued growth in data center workloads, how realistic are sustainability goals?
Finding ways to cut carbon usage in data centers is challenging when the broader business demands ever-increasing workloads. However, corporate net zero commitments are unforgiving and data center operations teams need to find answers to this challenge. EkkoSense’s EkkoSoft Critical software solution, with its ability to secure data center cooling energy savings and quantifiable carbon reduction, is a great way for data center teams to support their broader corporate ESG commitments.Click below to share this article