Sean Farney has been involved in some of the most innovative projects in digital infrastructure, including one of the first web-scale data centers deploying servers in containers, and an edge computing startup focused on converting retail stores into data centers. For the past two years, Farney has headed business development for the data center industry at Kohler Power Systems, a pioneer in backup generators to provide emergency power.
In our Earth Day edition the Data Center Frontier Show podcast, I talk with Sean about the data center industry’s progress on confronting climate change, and how sustainability has become a “board-level imperative” for all companies. “I’ve been very heartened in the past couple of years to see the industry really come together and start talking” about a collective approach, Farney says.
In our wide-ranging conversation, we discuss the future of backup power and the essential role of generators, the potential role of microgrids, the growing challenges procuring power in major global markets, and whether vacant retail and office space will become part of the edge computing landscape.
EDITOR’S NOTE: After this podcast was recorded, Sean started a new position as Executive Director, Data Center Strategy & Innovation at JLL.
Listen to today’s show:
Here’s a timeline of topics Sean and I discuss on the podcast:
- 7:00 – Sustainability as a “board-level imperative.”
- 12:00 – Evolutionary steps and optimizing existing infrastructure.
- 17:45 – How microgrids can enable better sustainability and reliability.
- 21:30 – Site selection gets harder. Is “bring your own power” the future for hyperscale data centers?
- 25:30 – What edge infrastructure looks like, and how it may evolve.
- 30:00 – Can retail stores and office space be converted into digital infrastructure?
Here are some links with more about Sean and some of the topics we discussed:
- 2022: The Year of Data Center Sustainability Metrics: In Voices of the Industry, Sean explores the pressing need for better data center sustainability metrics.
- Data Center Sustainability: Evolution or Revolution?: Sean expands upon his take on what the transition to a sustainable future will look like.
- Are Nuclear-Powered Plants on the Horizon? Sean and other data center thought leaders discuss the potential for nuclear power to combat climate change.
- Sears is Turning Shuttered Stories Into Data Centers: From the archives, my 2013 story about Sean’s time at Ubiquity Critical Environments, an early initiative to repurpose retail stores for data center use.
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