Welcome to MidWeek Brief 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Every Wednesday, we’ll take a rapid-fire run-through of all the big stories of the week so far, as well as preview emerging stories we’re keeping an eye on. Why Wednesdays? It knows what it did.
Before I get started, I have to address a deeply upsetting story. I think you know what I’m talking about…Tekashi69 is feuding with Trippie Redd. Everything will be ok, folks.
Vantage Begins Second Santa Clara Campus
Vantage data centers started construction on the first of three planned data centers totaling 69 megawatts. This will be the company’s second campus in Silicon Valley.
the first building will be 21MW and 175,000 square feet. It’s expected to be complete in 2019.
Vantage’s first Silicon Valley campus totals 75MW and six data centers. By all accounts, the campus is nearing capacity, prompting the second campus.
Silicon Valley is an important strategic market, but it’s also high stakes. It’s generally expensive to operate there and the market hasn’t been as bulletproof as other core markets. Vantage has been successful pitching flexible configurations and mixed space.
Santa Clara’s competitive power pricing (comparable to the rest of the area) means 35 data centers are huddled in the same 3.5 square miles. While land prices are usually a small consideration in the bigger capex picture, it’s a major consideration in Silicon Valley.
The company is using a four-story design for the new data center, allowing it to eschew the physical limitations imposed by the plot of land. It previously used a 4-story design for its V5 data center to great success.
The valley is Vantage’s home turf, so it was able to shop around for land. I looked for residential housing there once upon a time, but noped right out of there when I saw a condemned shack was selling for seven figures.
Obviously, colocation makes perfect sense over owning and running an on-prem data center, given these costs.
Digital Bridge Holdings acquired Vantage in 2017. Digital Bridge is also the parent of DataBank, a company well-known for turning a former bank vault into a data center.
Digital Bridge Holdings’ strategy seems to be achieving national scale through acquiring providers with regional know-how. It seems like an obvious strategy, but remember that standardization and uniformity often drives national and global strategies. Unique takes time, but it also empowers creative thinking.
Vantage recently broke ground on a planned $1B data center campus in Northern Virginia. It has a 42 acre plot of land in Ashburn’s Data Center Alley, where it is ultimately planning on building 1M square feet.
New Leadership at Cologix
Cologix has a new CEO and CMO. The new leadership comes a year after private equity firm Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners acquired the company. DCT has reached out and will speak to the new leadership soon, but here’s a brief rundown in the meantime.
Industry veteran Bill Fathers was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cologix. Bill Fathers’ previous roles include Executive Vice President of Cloud Services at VMware and President of Savvis. He also helped Stonepeak build a portfolio of companies with plays in the infrastructure space, including renewable energy projects.
Lisa Guillaume was named CMO. Guillaume will be in charge of brand, go-to-market strategy and communications. Previous roles include Chief Product Officer for enterprise SaaS provider Relay Network, product and marketing roles at Digital Globe, Level 3 Communications (now CenturyLink), and Sterling Rice Group. Perhaps most interestingly, Guillaume operated a marketing and strategy consultancy firm focused on data center and colocation provider brand transformation.
It’ll be interesting to see how the strategy will evolve given the new leadership’s past expertise.
The company operates 24 data centers across nine markets in North America. It’s a carrier neutral interconnection play in emerging and edge markets stateside like Jacksonville and Minneapolis. It also has data centers in Canada’s three core markets of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
IBM Makes Neural Network Breakthrough
We’re not at the commercial application stage for neural networks, but IBM’s latest findings show a factor of 100 in energy efficiency, suggesting treading forward is worth the effort.
Neural networks are an attempt to mimic how the brain processes data via computers. Neural nets are usually constructed through software rather than hardware, and that software runs on regular, conventional computer chips.
It’s easier (but not easy) to mimic the way brains work in software, but not hardware. IBM built key features of a neural net directly in the hardware, and so far it looks to potentially fix the bottleneck/ceiling. The claim is a 100 times more efficient neural network.
The large, overarching problem is that Moore’s law is hitting a wall called physics. The physical material used in computers can only go so far. IBM is looking into changing the architecture behind AI. The work might lead towards AI logic burned into the silicon itself.
Neural networks are bleeding edge type stuff that aren’t quite viable for wide commercial application yet, but the latest findings are a step towards making the economics palpable.
Oak Ridge Now Has the World’s Fastest Supercomputer
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory launched the world’s most powerful supercomputer. Peak performance is 200 petaflops, significantly more powerful than the previous title holder, China’s Sunway Taihulight (93 petaflops).
The Brock Lesnar of computers is supported by 13 megawatts. The single system is comprised of 4,608 servers. Those servers are powered by 9,200+ IBM Power 9 processors and 27,600+ Nvidia Volta GPUs.
Let us rejoice, as we finally have a system that can run Crysis.
Cyxtera Tech Acquires Immunity, Inc to Beef Up Secure Infrastructure Play
Cyxtera is focused on secure infrastructure and making people question if they’re pronouncing Cyxtera the right way (i.e. the Interxion strategy).
Cyxtera Technologies has acquired Immunity, Inc a cyber security outfit that specializes going on the offense. Proactive security means kicking the crap out of the tires to make sure they can withstand threats, rather than dealing with threats after they occur. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a dangerous mindset for enterprise IT.
Cyxtera gains capabilities like proactive verification of security systems through advanced penetration testing, and assessing vulnerabilities . White Hat stuff.
Cyxtera also gains the INFILTRATE (caps indicate I’m yelling) conference. INFILTRATE (still yelling) is a white hat security conference. It’s an ecosystem of security experts. INFILTRATE (not yelling this time; the conference name is all caps) is a nice value add to the acquisition.
“The last ten years have been a computing revolution, but the next ten years are going to dwarf it with a rollercoaster ride of advancements,” said David Aitel, Chief Security Technology Officer for Cyxtera and former CEO of Immunity, Inc. in a release.
If you’re not sure who Cyxtera is:
CenturyLink bought Savvis in 2011 when Telecoms were all getting into colocation. CenturyLink then sold Savvis data centers to a consortium led by the folks that were behind Terremark. Terremark had sold its data centers to Verizon (which eventually divested those assets) and now is building a security-focused infrastructure business atop of what was once considered a competitor.
Basically, data center portfolios changed hands like poker chips. It’s interesting to see how these assets perform under a different business strategy and positioning.
Net Neutrality Repealed
There’s nothing to be said that hasn’t been said. So I have a Modest Proposal. Ease your economic woes by feeding your startup to Telecoms.
Scratch that – let me start again.
The Federal Communications Commission implemented Land of the Free-as-a-Service, a framework for silencing pesky content online. The goal is to create the world’s largest echo chamber.
Ok, one more redo. Here we go…
The commission voted to repeal Net Neutrality in December. Public outcry and legal challenges from state attorneys did nothing to dissuade F.C.C. chairman Ajit Pai. The most recent image of Pai shows that he’s clean shaven, meaning he can either still look at himself in the mirror or has hired help.
I’ll just say this: If slow is the new down for user experience, throttling can be just as effective as a DDoS. A lot of the talk is about potentially charging for services like Facebook. I think if anyone tries to exploit new powers, they’ll be a little more subtle. I find that to be a much scarier proposition.
Fornite Comes to Nintendo Switch
Providers need to start paying attention to the online gaming segment. It’s more than just Blizzard these days.
Fortnite is a battle royal-style game where teams are thrown onto an ever-shrinking map and tasked with eliminating the opposition through bullets and building.
Fortnite has reached critical mass and it’s becoming a household name. Ask your kids. It also has an audience of spectators. Watching gaming streams is a significant contributor to the massive growth of online video.
Fortnite is a little different than previous MMO success stories. For one, it’s leading the charge in audience extension with a sizable portion of the player base female. Multi-player online games are starting to have wide, mass market appeal. Marry this to the Nintendo Switch, which also has mass market appeal beyond traditional gamers, and Nintendo has captured lightning in a bottle.
Fortnite on Switch signals that online gaming has officially moved beyond niche. The addressable audience just got much bigger.