There has been an increase in the demand for data centres in the Middle East market. But with that comes also challenges in and the way in which those challenges can be dealt with.
Additionally, there are also questions on what would be the future of the data centre market and what are the investment trends in the Middle East market? These were discussed in W.Media’s ‘Middle East Cloud and Data Center Market Insights 2021’. The session was moderated by Radhika Kapoor, Consultant, Capitel. The panellists included Hessam Seifi, MD, DC PRO BV, Tinboat Arslanouk, Senior Director- Data centre product management, du, Marco Brandstaetter, Regional Director, Middle East and South Asia, DE-CIX and Jim Campbell, Regional Director, RED Engineering.
PUE and DC efficiency
The whole industry should have a serious look at this. By just managing the temperature correctly you can save a lot of energy. “We have data centres that are being cooled with water at 60 degrees. So hot water cools. As the trend continues the data centre and the colocation industry should be ready for this change.
By bringing a few changes in the criteria the organisations will be saving a lot on the operational cost which can be transferred to some other area depending upon the advantage,” said Hessam Seifi, MD, DC PRO BV.
“In terms of our region here when you speak to large scale data providers they are not just sticking to the traditional designs, they are looking for innovation.
Everything these days is controlled by machines. So if we want to help humans go in those spaces then we can start elevating temperatures and we can then challenge the PUE. It becomes relevant in a metric,” said Jim Campbell, Regional Director, RED Engineering.
He further underlined that there are a few providers that use different cooling technologies but traditionally everyone was interested in air cool chillers but there is a change in the trend but it is difficult.
It is challenging in the Middle East due to high temperatures. It is a very big area, we have cities that are dry and different technologies could be adopted for cooling.
Support is needed from the client’s side as well along with operators and investors to look at the alternatives of cooling solutions that can be adopted to a particular region.
“The problem in the GCC is not only the humidity and temperature but also the weather which is sandy. Deploying evaporative solutions has always been a challenge on the operational side. You have open cooling towers, there is circulating water, sand and other factors which create their own challenges.
We have been successful in operating free cooling during winters after midnight for a considerable amount of time and using higher water temperatures and this has been helping in achieving a good PUE in the region. Stepping away from air cool chillers or 4 to 6 degrees of chilled water.
So supplying waters used in the 20s and using air circulation more effectively has been successful even during the given environment. This also adds some burden on the operation side as there will be things that need to be looked after. Running a data centre with that type of cooling is a more complex operation,” said Tinboat Arslanouk, Senior Director- Data centre product management, du.
du is an Emirates Integrated Telecommunications company that offers mobile and fixed services, broadband connectivity and IPTV services to people, homes and businesses.
The other challenge faced is when setting up the cooling solution it costs more money, so when a data centre is built which uses those technologies the setpoints and the thermal even with points extended it will cost more money.
“To give you an example, liquid emission technologies do not need any chillers even in the worst environment. You just need to circulate 50 to 60 degrees hot water-like liquid and you can cool data centres.
People have been testing it. It might not save a lot in other areas but in an environment like here, it could save millions. I think in the next five years multi megawatts will be moving in this environment.
Which will have a massive impact on the PUE and electricity solutions, and since the need is the mother of all inventions, people will come up with more solutions in the future,” pointed Arslanouk.
Boost from Hyperscale DC
“The landing of hyperscalers in the GCC boosted our connectivity business. Compute requirements will be far more different from what would be required in a carrier model set-up. We are in partnership with Equinix and are working with hyperscalers.
Hyperscalers will trigger traffic and the traffic needs to be managed and the environment required to manage that traffic requires a different skill set. In three to five years we will also see further growth in edge computing.
Microsoft, AWS, everyone has plans and are working to embed the edge computing even in mobile size in a pizza box concept for latency, IoT. We see all of these fueling eachother,” said Tinboat Arslanouk.
He further added that more hyperscale land in the region and that it thrives and concentrates more traffic and more traffic needs to be serviced by IX models or carrier models. All these fronts are progressing.
Three to four years ago a 2 MW data centre used to be a big data centre in the region serving the colocation requirements. Today hyperscalers are under 5 or 10 MW and there is a divergence in the data centre even from a design perspective to what serves the hyperscalers.
“Over the next three to five years we will see the large-scale hyperscalers come into the region and after that migrate back to the colocation setting where edge computing comes in and that’s where we see the market going. Especially in the Middle East and Africa as well,” added Campbell.