Aligned Energy Opens Industry's First Pay-per-Use Data Center

Aligned Energy's CEO says the new facility is the first "pay-for-only-the-power-that-you-use" data center to come online in the U.S.

A New York-based data center operator is taking a cue from cloud service providers and is offering the first pay-per-use subscriptions for services that include physical data center space, the power to run equipment and the water to cool it, if necessary.

Aligned Data Centers, a division of Aligned Energy, is now taking orders after finishing construction a few weeks ago on the first next-generation, pay-for-use data center, which is located in Plano, Texas, north of Dallas (pictured). The $300 million, 30-megawatt data center complex offers consumption-based pricing for on-demand data center capacity in an effort to provide enterprises, service providers and governments with greater control of data center cost.

Aligned Energy CEO Jakob Carnemark told eWEEK that the Plano facility is the first "pay-for-only-the-power-that-you-use" data center to come online in the United States.

This is IT innovation at work. Cloud services work in this manner every day; data centers, up to this point, have not.

Significant Problem Being Addressed

"The problem in the data center industry that not a lot of people talk about, but it's a significant one because data centers are so power-intensive, is that people just have a difficult time predicting—given the changes in technology and business trends—what their density is going to be and what their use is going to be," Carnemark, a 25-year veteran of the industry who has built large data centers for customers such as eBay, RBC and Lenovo, told eWEEK.

"So if you look at all those data centers being built today, the actual power utilization in all those data centers is only about 30 percent to 40 percent," he said. "With the gargantuan appetite for energy that data centers are consuming and the amount of waste currently being experienced, the current model is unsustainable."

Carnemark says he believes that nothing less than a drastic reduction and change in how cooling is delivered in a more sustainable way—at the rack level rather than the data center or even module level—is the answer.

"We need to move toward new technologies while considering lessons from the past in moving the data center industry forward to help customers manage costs while moving toward green data center products," Carnemark said.

Aligned's newest facility is literally a new model for enterprises that rely on colocation services. Just as office tenants pay for square footage based on how many workers they expect to employ, the $200 billion data center industry charges customers based on how much space their servers occupy and how much power they plan to use.

Data Center Customers Overpay for Computing, Storage

Data center customers, however, tend to overestimate, asking and paying for more servers than they need. Eventually, they wind up with dormant servers that may sit idle for months.

IT analysts estimate that at any given moment, at least 30 percent of the world's servers are going unused, wasting about $30 billion a year, according to a June 2015 estimate by Stanford University data center expert Jonathan Koomey and his Anthesis Consulting Group.

So Aligned now offers a pay-for-use model, taking a cue from the public clouds by similarly letting tenants pay for computing power based on actual use, which will save customers 30 percent to 50 percent a year in data center costs, Carnemark said.

Aligned also uses a patented, highly advanced and reliable heat removal system called Conducive Cooling, which allows its data centers to use 85 percent less water than the traditional data center. Most large data centers use about 1 million gallons of water a day, but Aligned's Plano facility will only use 150,000 gallons—even while packing in servers more tightly than rivals do.

Go here to view a video of the new facility.

Go here to download a whitepaper on "The Evolving Data Center."

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...