Data Center Insights: Brandon Peterson, CoolIT Systems

March 26, 2024
CoolIT Systems' Senior VP of Business Development feels that from a sustainability perspective, data centers moving toward liquid-to-liquid coolant distribution units will see the maximum benefit, relative to data centers bridging the gap with liquid-to-air coolant distribution units.

The Data Center Frontier Executive Roundtable features insights from industry executives with lengthy experience in the data center industry. Here’s a look at the insights from Brandon Peterson, Senior VP of Business Development, CoolIT Systems.

Delivering industry-leading technology that enables customers to push new limits, Brandon Peterson is Senior Vice President of Business Development at CoolIT Systems. Starting at CoolIT in 2016 as a Field Application Engineer, he now leads business development and marketing, including strategy, processes, products, people, and growth.  

Innovation, problem-solving and the ability to adapt are driving forces behind Brandon’s collaboration with customers and his team. He is a big-picture thinker committed to strategizing and leading CoolIT’s data center business.

Here's the full text of Brandon Peterson's insights from our Executive Roundtable:

Data Center Frontier:  What do you see as the most significant ways whereby the unprecedented growth in digital infrastructure for AI and the cloud, and attendant core concerns surrounding power and sustainability, are giving rise to new paradigms for data center design?

Brandon Peterson, CoolIT Systems:  We have seen many data centers working hard to catch up to the sudden hard requirement for liquid-cooling on many of the AI platforms. 

Large data center owners plan years in advance and changing course toward the end of these cycles is challenging. Bridge technologies like air-to-liquid coolant distribution units will allow liquid-cooled IT to be deployed nearly anywhere, which will create the time needed to plan for liquid-cooling in greenfield applications. 

We also think that having partners with robust experience retrofitting liquid-cooling into legacy air-cooled data centers may be of benefit to many data center owners. This has largely been the deployment model for liquid-cooling over the past 10 years, so many of these capabilities exist.

From a sustainability perspective, data centers moving toward liquid-to-liquid coolant distribution units will see the maximum benefit, relative to data centers bridging the gap with liquid-to-air coolant distribution units. 

This is because liquid-to-air coolant distribution units still reject heat to the data center space, and still require its removal via traditional data center cooling technologies. 

Yes, there can still be savings at the server level due to reduced fan power consumption, but the larger opportunity for sustainability is in reducing the overall data center PUE.

Data Center Frontier:  Is the data center industry approaching a similar inflection point for the expansion of edge and prefab modular facilities to meet hyperscale capacity and compute demands, as it did last year with the expansion of data center rack power densities in wholesale and colocation facilities, in response to the wave of heightened expectations for generative AI and liquid cooling stakes?

Brandon Peterson, CoolIT Systems:  We still see much of the demand for AI and liquid-cooling going into traditional hyperscale and colocation data centers. However, with potential supply chain constraints on major data center infrastructure, options for edge / prefab modular facilities might become more desirable.

From a liquid-cooling perspective, edge and prefab modular facilities may drive different product requirements. Having a robust portfolio with multiple capacity and size options, as well as having well established product development processes that enable a fast time-to-market will allow us to help data centers with liquid-cooled AI no matter where it ends up being deployed.

Data Center Frontier:  Is data center operators’ level of short-term investment keeping pace with the level of hype surrounding the range of data center liquid cooling technologies; and if not, when do you think the industry will see these vectors converge?

Brandon Peterson, CoolIT Systems:  We’ve seen data center operators over the past two years accelerate their pace of investment in preparation for liquid-cooling.

For large data center operators, it is difficult to rapidly change the direction of generational data center designs which are launched over time after careful engineering and supply chain preparations.

This has implications on technology and product selection, resulting in trade offs being made in terms of performance, cost, feasibility and availability. 

The best solution may not be the available solution in the next 1 – 2 years as many of these companies compete for allocation of capacity through the supply chain for the products they need in their data centers.  

This will, however, rapidly evolve over the next 3 – 5 years after sufficient time has been invested in preparing for next-generation data center designs.

Data Center Frontier:  To what degree do you see larger projects and heightened demand exacerbating challenges with North American supply chains and delivery timelines for data centers in 2024, and to what degree do you see creative partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions potentially helping to alleviate such obstacles?

Brandon Peterson, CoolIT Systems:  There’s a major focus right now on AI, much of which requires liquid-cooling. This has driven a surge in demand for liquid-cooling technology in 2024 and into 2025.

While this is likely to continue, the growing CPU heat loads and rack densities in enterprise applications is another underlying trend that hasn’t yet had the visibility of AI.  

Many enterprise data centers have not yet been forced into liquid-cooling the way AI data centers have, but we’re not far off that mark.

When CPU heat loads start to exceed 400W and rack densities start to exceed 30kW, liquid-cooling becomes substantially beneficial for performance and efficiency, in addition to simply keeping the CPUs below required temperatures.  

As the enterprise market’s heat loads and rack densities continue to rise, a much larger portion of legacy air-cooled data centers will transition to liquid cooling.  

Companies investing in supply chain via partnerships and other activities that strengthen and localize supply chains will be well positioned to serve this rapidly growing demand.

 

 

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About the Author

Matt Vincent

A B2B technology journalist and editor with more than two decades of experience, Matt Vincent is Editor in Chief of Data Center Frontier.

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