As the guardian of some of your most valuable data assets, choosing a data center is no small undertaking. Location, expertise of staff and upholding best practices are just some of the key points to consider before selecting the right facility. Paul Vaccaro, Senior Vice President of Operations & Engineering at Infomart Data Centers, believes that his company ticks all the boxes. Yet, he says what really gives Infomart a competitive edge is its ability to go the extra mile to meet its clients’ needs. In doing so, Infomart aims to serve as an extension of its customers’ teams.
“Our ability to solve problems and deliver solutions that meet demanding project requirements is what differentiates us from the competition,” Vaccaro explains.
“Our customers will tell you that what makes us different is the personal touch and the ability to do things that other colocation providers aren’t willing to do. We don’t have a product to sell, we have ideas to deliver. To the right client, that difference is significant.”
In the data center world, bigger doesn’t always equate to better. Every week, new scalable and adaptable solutions are entering the fray – these include high-density solutions and dynamically-scaling environments. By offering unique and customizable options, Infomart ensures that its customers' servers work at optimal levels now and in the future.
“Everybody always wants to talk about density, but in reality, few really understand how to take advantage of it. From an Infomart perspective, we have lots of ideas and real products that we can bring to the market. It is just a matter of how quickly our clients can leverage these technologies,” says Vaccaro. “We have built facilities of 300 watts per sq. ft. or more, and have even done some densification projects to existing facilities to meet the computing demands of our clients. It is that forward thinking and real-world problem-solving that is more important than density numbers. As the industry moves towards hyperscale computing and more distributed edge applications, you’ll see more of these ideas. The drivers are different, but the solution space is very similar. Stay tuned; I think the industry is going to see some very exciting developments with high-density computing in the next three to five years.”
Vaccaro first cut his teeth in the data center industry in the 1980s, when personal computers (PCs) were just making their entrance, and mainframes, midrange and microcomputers were the norm. Having racked up experience at firms such as Intel Corporation and Infomart Data Centers, Vaccaro is all too aware of how innovation has shaken up the sector. New technologies and tools are not only helping to drive efficiency, but are also helping Infomart achieve its sustainability goals without sacrificing performance or availability.
For example, at its facility in Ashburn, the company has deployed a closed-loop chilled water system combined with waterside economies. These are designed to minimize the firm’s carbon footprint whilst delivering an efficient data center. Meanwhile, in Portland, Infomart has utilized the world’s largest production deployment of rear-door heat exchangers, a pioneering technology that brings cooling closer to the load.
“We are working on a new project right now that takes an award-winning, energy efficient design and integrates several additional new technologies to improve it even further,” notes Vaccaro. “For example, we use new high-temperature chillers that make 65-degree water so we don’t have to use mixing valves to achieve that supply temperature. We are also working on the physical plant design so that it is scalable and can add additional mechanical options for future densification, which will result in further efficiencies for our clients.”
With locations in Portland, Silicon Valley and Ashburn, the Infomart also buys power on the open market, which allows the company to offer a custom energy mix based on customer requirements. This enables Infomart to deliver unparalleled, cost-competitive rates. “We spend significant investment to get direct access to most of our sites,” Vaccaro adds. “We believe that buying power on an open market is the best way to deliver clean, low-cost energy to our clients. The cost savings are significant, and we hear this from our clients regularly. I think the repeat business also speaks to the success of direct access power procurement.”
Continuous innovation has been a well-versed mantra at Infomart, with partnerships acting as a key enabler to the company’s success. “When you get right down to the work of designing, constructing and delivering data centers, it really comes down to your partners,” he says. “So, for instance, let’s start with our partner REI: their craftsmanship just jumps out at you when you tour one of our facilities. Their track record of delivering high-quality results against aggressive schedules has been flawless. Their motto should be ‘we deliver, and it will show as industrial artwork’.”
“Canara has also been a strong partner and has developed some specific solutions unique to Infomart requirements. These have saved us some significant OpEx costs, and we continue to look to them to help us lead in this area. Delta Fire provides services for one of those commodities that people see on the project budget, but often overlook this importance. They have always delivered on time and their workmanship is top-notch.
“OTI gets my award for the unsung hero,” he adds. “I could talk for an hour or more on their capabilities. It comes down to the importance of being able to measure in order to manage what you have to ensure efficiency. Their solution is near perfect, and it is a key enabler to the efficiency and ongoing optimization we achieve.” It goes without saying that uptime is the most critical concern for data center operations and, at Infomart, this is placed front and center. Therefore, the company has partnered with industry leaders to create the Uptime Institute Management & Operations (M&O) Certification.
The secret to this maximum uptime? Vaccaro suggests that it lies in how the firm identifies best practice procedures, sets standards and performs constant data center evaluations. As a result, Infomart not only received the first ever certification, it also holds one of the highest ratings in the world.
“We place an emphasis on security and compliance and not just by passing audits,” Vaccaro explains. “We hire external experts who review our methods, systems and processes as part of our everyday efforts to exceed expectations in this area. We develop plans and continue to improve; the audits are just the proof, not the means to the end for us.
“We've never compromised when it comes to the maintenance of the equipment or training our individuals,” he continues. “If you look at our records when we go through this audit, you'll find that no maintenance is ever deferred, and I think it shows. When you walk through an Infomart facility and you look at our equipment, you can tell it's not neglected: it's very well maintained.”
Today, Infomart’s future looks as dynamic as ever. Influenced by its customers’ demands, the firm has its eyes firmly set on further expansion and, under new ownership, the data center company is going to continue to invest in its team and assets. Yet, as the company accelerates forward, Vaccaro asserts that Infomart will remain focused on one shared vision: delivering customizable data center services with a customer focus.