Jakob Carnemark has a big vision for the future of the data center industry. The founder of Aligned Energy thinks a lot about scale, and how data centers can be built bigger and faster. In recent months, he realized that one of his biggest capacity management challenges was the amount of work on his plate as he filled the roles of both CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Aligned.
That’s why Aligned has hired industry veteran Andrew Schaap to take the helm as the new CEO of Aligned, with Carnemark continuing as CTO. Schaap comes to Aligned from Digital Realty, the largest player in the wholesale data center sector, where he was Senior Vice President of Global Solutions. In that position, Schaap was responsible for global large-scale, client-driven data center builds – exactly the kind of customer that Aligned is targeting.
“The right thing to do was to bring on a seasoned CEO who can scale the business,” said Carnemark. “I wanted to continue to focus on building out the technology platform and software platform. This gives us senior leadership that has a proven ability to scale. Andrew is widely recognized for his deep industry experience, close client relationships, and ability to execute.”
Solving the Capacity Planning Challenge
Aligned was founded in 2015 with a focus on solving capacity management challenges, pursuing innovation in cooling, the supply chain and pricing models. The company launched its first data center in Plano, Texas in 2016 and just opened its second facility, a 550,000 square foot, 62 megawatt campus in Phoenix.
“Andrew can really continue to build and scale the lease-up,” said Carnemark. “We’re doing very well in both sites, but we want to continue to lease up and expand. We really need to execute flawlessly on both these pieces.”
The company’s expansion roadmap calls for wholesale data centers in each of the six largest U.S. markets. Aligned’s expansion geography may be changing, however. Carnemark says the company’s technology is particularly well-suited to cloud service providers, who are seeking build-to-suit opportunities with great efficiency. Several of these providers are building globally.
“As we look to the future of our business, a lot of our opportunities will be international,” said Carnemark, who said Aligned’s technology allows it to build data centers that can be cooled in any environment, and use less power and water than traditional facilities.
Given the competition for major cloud deals, international expansion could provide an opportunity for newer players like Aligned. That’s an approach that worked well for EdgeConneX, which leveraged its construction expertise to win projects to build cloud data centers for Microsoft in Amsterdam and Dublin.
Global expansion is also an area where Schaap’s experience can prove helpful. He was part of the executive leadership team at Digital Realty that grew the company’s revenue to $2 billion. He also oversaw all major international transactions, including the successful negotiation and execution of projects in Osaka, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney.
Schaap believes Aligned is well-positioned for the way the data center market is evolving. The cloud service providers are all looking for a partner that can provide future-proofing,” he said. “That gives us a huge leg up.”
“There is a change happening in the industry, and it’s aligned perfectly with Aligned Energy’s business,” said Schaap. “The clients don’t have a perfect crystal ball. If you map that against the build-to-scale solution and supply chain, it allows the CSPs to not have to take on the risk.”
A key consideration for cloud providers is the speed of deployment, a factor that has helped CyrusOne win hyperscale deals. Carnemark and Schaap believe Aligned’s integraed supply chain equips it to operate well in a “just-in-time” environment.
“I believe there’s a plateau that’s been hit on speed to market,” said Carnemark. “What we want to do is rethink the process and productize and industrialize the data center supply chain. We’re at a point now where we can start to queue the supply chain at significant scale for large cloud players. We’re building in 20 megawatt reserves, with the ability to bring them online very quickly. The more we scale the business, the more our supply chain improves. We’re definitely charting a course in next-generation throughput on capacity.”
Carnemark will now focus on technology innovation for Aligned, including projects on enhancing the efficiency of the platform.
“People pursue their passions and core interests,” said Carnemark. “I’ve been focused on making sure the technology is solid and we’re delivering it effectively. I’m a ‘long vision’ person, and will be very hands on with the technology.”