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We have implemented sustainable practices to reduce the carbon footprint of our Chennai data center: Ankit Saraiya, Director, TEECL

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In this interview with Ankit Saraiya, the Director of Techno Electric & Engineering Company Limited (TEECL), we delve into the company’s data center strategy, innovative approaches to enhance efficiency and sustainability, the use of AI for operational efficiency, cybersecurity measures, and their adaptation to emerging data center trends. Ankit shares insights into the firm’s commitment to green and sustainable practices, achieving LEED Platinum ratings, and integrating renewable energy sources to reduce the carbon footprint of their data center in Chennai. He also discusses the use of cutting-edge AI-driven DCIM tools for improved scalability, resource allocation, real-time monitoring, and sustainability, which can result in up to 40% power savings.

Some edited excerpts from the interview:

Please describe in brief your data center strategy. Could you share some specific examples of innovative strategies you have employed to optimize data center efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and enhance overall sustainability?
Even though we are a fairly new data center infrastructure provider, we have a strong background – through the parent company TEECL – in the Engineering, Power, and Construction (EPC) segment.

Our data center strategy is centered around identifying and acquiring the right land for the data center and designing it in a way that ensures a reliable supply of power, efficient cooling systems, use of renewable energy to lower the overall carbon footprint at the facility, and enhance the overall sustainability of the facility. Being analytical and client-focused, the team provides a comprehensive range of services involving technical, and legal aspects pertaining to any Land acquisition, Grid supply connection, due diligence, and statutory approvals. Our innovative and integrated End-To-End solutions and execution support deliver value to our clients. We have Comprehensive Supply Chain Solutions that integrate real estate, supply chain management, and strategic business growth for end-to-end tailor-made solutions.

Our data center design aims to achieve an average annualized PUE of 1.34 to 1.39. With the use of Adiabatic cooling towers for air conditioning systems, up to 75% reduction in water consumption is achieved in comparison to Conventional cooling towers, achieving a WUE of 0.012 KL/KW and significant savings in power consumption compared to Air Cooled Chiller Systems.

The electrical power design will have the option of using a (BESS) Battery Energy Storage System during power failure to extend the backup time up to 16 minutes with EOL anatomy. BESS will be utilized for increasing battery backup to reduce the utilization of DG Sets to remain environmentally and socially responsible.

The data center is being designed to make it easier for DC operators to manage and monitor every aspect of the infrastructure. Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools allow specialized personnel to automate several tasks to maintain security, improve efficiency, and ensure high availability and connectivity at all times. Automation technologies will help reduce the risk of human error to improve overall performance and reduce downtime.

We have implemented sustainable practices to help reduce the carbon footprint of the Chennai data center that is currently being built, keeping the overall sustainability of the place and its surroundings. We are targeting the LEED Platinum rating, with over 25% of the green cover within the data center premises. This includes using renewable energy sources, implementing energy-efficient technologies, and reducing waste.

Do you use AI in enhancing the operational efficiency of your data center? What are some of the major benefits? Please quantify wherever possible?
The upcoming Chennai Data center will be managed by cutting-edge AI-driven DCIM tools that will be tuned to enhance the overall operational efficiency of the facility. These, along with other forms of technology, will result in several benefits for DC operators

Improved scalability and flexibility: AI-powered systems can easily adjust and grow to meet the changing needs of a data center. AI algorithms can automatically allocate resources and optimize performance when the workload increases or decreases, which helps the data center to effectively handle different demands and remain flexible.

Optimized resource allocation: One of the most important aspects of the DCIM tool is its ability to work with intelligent IoT (Internet of Things) that play the part of the eyes and ears of the data center, helping DC operators set alerts and triggers to ensure smooth working at all times. An AI-enabled DCIM solution helps personnel and admin in tracking, allocating resources, and automating tasks. Advanced analytics for predictive maintenance and security also helps in ensuring high availability and resilience.

Real-time monitoring and adjustment: AI provides data centers with deep monitoring capabilities coupled with the ability to instantly adjust to needs with minimal manual intervention. With well-implemented AI, data centers will be able to better maintain equipment efficiency in real-time, but they’ll be able to more accurately plan the future. Data centers can use dynamic optimization to become constantly more efficient without endangering performance by being able to quickly account for changing environmental parameters and change in real-time.

Increased sustainability: AI tools can help companies save up to 40% of the power spent on cooling. Data center infrastructure providers are also adopting AI, IoT, and ML to build green, lean, and smart data centers. While AI-based robots help automate functions and optimize efficiency, predictive analytics help keep energy consumption and operational expenditures in check.

What security measures have you implemented in your data center to protect against evolving cyber threats, and how do you ensure data integrity and confidentiality?
Overall, data centers must implement a comprehensive security strategy that includes physical security measures, network security solutions, and employee training to protect against these and other cyber threats. Regular security audits and vulnerability assessments can also help identify and address any security gaps in the data center’s defenses.

We will be using an Integrated Security system, breaking the traditional solid approach where the access control, CCTV system, Perimeter fence alarm, visitor management system, lift access control system, Fire Alarms system and other systems shall work together seamlessly as a unified interface with simplified reporting and custom dashboards from single user interface for efficient operations and situational awareness.

We will be implementing a 7-layer security system in our data center, as follows: –
1. Perimeter Intrusion Detection System (PIDS) and CCTV Cameras
2. UVSS with ANPR at Main gate entrance and CCTV Cameras
3. Boom barriers and Bollards at main gate entrance and CCTV Cameras
4. Baggage scanner and DFMD and Visitor management system and full height turnstile at main entrance screening block
5. Baggage scanner and DFMD and flap barriers at entrance reception and CCTV Cameras
6. Lift access control and Mantrap at lift lobby door access at each floor and CCTV Cameras
7. Door access control system for Data halls, critical, non-critical rooms and CCTV cameras

The complete security system will provide “smart monitoring” where the reliance on human monitoring with errors in process is minimized and important alarms & triggers should be filtered for operator action. All security alarm activations will be brought to the attention of the security guards and where specified, live, and recorded images of the event are to be presented to the security control room automatically. The system will have an escalation path beyond security guards to handle sensitive alarms / events in a process-oriented format.

The proposed system will comply with the latest cyber security requirements for data security.

How do you leverage emerging technologies and trends, such as edge computing and distributed data centers, to meet the evolving demands of modern data center operations?
To meet modern data center demands, we can use the following technologies: –
• By deploying edge nodes in remote areas, urban centers, or locations with limited connectivity, we can determine optimal locations for edge nodes based on factors like proximity to users, data sources, and critical applications.
• By designing the network architecture to accommodate edge computing we could involve technologies like Software-Defined Networking (SDN) to enable dynamic routing and efficient traffic management.
• One can offload processing tasks from centralized data centers to edge nodes to reduce latency and improve real-time response for applications like IoT, industrial automation, and content delivery.
• Implement strong security measures at the edge to safeguard data and applications (i.e. encryption, authentication, intrusion detection, and regular updates to mitigate vulnerabilities)
• To improve proactive maintenance and troubleshooting, one can implement advanced monitoring and management tools that provide visibility into the performance and health of edge nodes.
• Optimize resource utilization at the edge by using containerization and microservices architectures. This enables efficient allocation of resources and rapid deployment of applications.
• Leverage distributed data centers to comply with data sovereignty regulations by storing and processing data within specific geographical boundaries.

How do you assess and adopt new technologies and trends in the data center industry, such as containerization, modular designs, or liquid cooling systems, to drive innovation and stay ahead of the curve?
We have taken the best product of modular design, which minimizes the total cost of ownership while expanding the business and maximizing availability, reliability, and sustainability.

We are always looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve and drive innovation in the data center industry. To assess and adopt new technologies and trends, we follow a structured approach that includes the following steps: –

Research and Analysis: We keep a close eye on the latest developments and trends in the data center industry by reading industry publications, attending conferences, and networking with other professionals in the field. This helps us stay informed about emerging technologies and assess their potential impact on our business

Pilot Projects: Once we identify a new technology or trend that we believe has potential, we conduct pilot projects to test its feasibility and effectiveness. This allows us to evaluate the technology in a real-world setting and determine whether it is a good fit for our business.

Collaboration: We collaborate with other industry experts and vendors to gain insights into new technologies and trends. This helps us stay up-to-date with the latest developments and ensure that we are adopting best practices.

Continuous Improvement: This includes evaluating new technologies and trends that can help optimize operations and improve efficiency and service delivery.

In terms of specific technologies and trends, we are currently exploring containerization and liquid cooling systems. However, we are also aware that not all new technologies are a good fit for our business.

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