Data Center Insights: Stuart Lawrence, Stream Data Centers

March 26, 2024
Stream Data Centers' VP of Product Innovation and Sustainability feels that with current nationwide power constraints, all geographies are being viewed as possible new large-scale data center regions -- and, as a result, "near edge" could now be considered "near core."

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 Stuart Lawrence, VP, Product Innovation & Sustainability, Stream Data Centers.

Stuart Lawrence leads the support of client technical needs and assists the Stream design, engineering and construction team with overall site layout and design. With 20+ years of mission-critical mechanical systems experience, Lawrence is instrumental in ensuring Stream’s customers can enjoy the highest standard of service excellence and data center solutions. Lawrence collaborates closely with Stream’s customers, developing the next generation of highly effective, sustainable colocation data centers and helping customers secure the flexibility and agility they need to remain competitive in today’s rapidly evolving environment.

Lawrence is a sales and engineering expert that has spent decades working across various forms of mission-critical infrastructure. Prior to joining Stream, he served as an executive at Schneider Electric and a sales director at Aligned Energy. Having lived and worked in London, New York City, and most recently Austin, TX, he has participated in projects in several locations around the world, including the United States, UK, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Thailand, and Brazil. This global mindset and wealth of knowledge allows him to collaboratively problem-solve and help both Stream and its customers overcome complex IT challenges. 

Lawrence holds a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.

Here's the full text of Stuart Lawrence'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?

Stuart Lawrence, Stream Data Centers:  Increasing densities for AI are having serious implication on data center design. 

Most significantly impacted are footprint and embodied carbon, power funneling, heat rejection and location strategy. 

Closely following these items, and influenced by their outcomes, is supply chain. As I note in my response to an upcoming question, I don’t think the supply chain impacts are fully understood just yet.

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?

Stuart Lawrence, Stream Data Centers:  With current nationwide power constraints, all geographies are being viewed as possible new large scale regions, as a result near edge could now be considered near core.

With AI Learning and Inference needs, we see some divergence in latency requirements. From a capacity standpoint these Inference “Edge” clusters can be in the 10’s of MW’s, so I think the better statement would be that the core is expanding outward towards the edge.

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?

Stuart Lawrence, Stream Data Centers:  At Stream we have been concerned about the supply chain impacts of incorporating liquid cooling for some time. 

With scarce information on the availability of scale DLC solutions, we worked closely with our customers to architect a solution that meets the needs of our customers high density air cooled solutions today and allows for an easy switch to liquid cooled IT in the future. 

The ability to accommodate both air and liqiuid cooling modalities, without impacting space, cost, embodied carbon and scheduled is a differentiator. 

In addition, since our solution is unique to Stream, we have been able to guaranteed over 200MW of annual production capacity.

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?

Stuart Lawrence, Stream Data Centers:  Supporting hyperscale leasing requires a robust multi-year supply chain program. Yes, the scale of the challenge has grown exponentially.

Five years ago, an annual vendor-managed inventory program of 50-100 MW would have been considered satisfactory. Today, that number is north of 200 MW annually.

The providers that have a sophisticated supply chain process in place will be better positioned to cope with the increased demand, since those manufacturers are already in constant communication, have visibility into the pipeline and have been working on production related efficiency measures for some time.  

In addition to inventory management, given the different customer technical requirements and need to deliver at scale and with speed, product architecture and component selection become paramount.

The ability to configure a product to meet the different technical needs, without heavy engineering and product redesigns, and more importantly without impact to cost and schedule is a major differentiator. 

For some time we have seen several creative vendors partnering with other suppliers (some even old rivals) to deliver more flexible and scalable sub-assemblies that allow for more of a late point configuration on site. 

In addition, with skilled labor causing upward pricing pressure, many developers are wise to partner with off-site fabricators where work can be completed in a more consistent and safe way. 


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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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