The word innovate comes from the Latin verb “innovatus,” roughly meaning to renew, or restore, but also to change. Its etymological path has since evolved more broadly, indicating “to bring in new things and alter established practices.” In this sense, the word suggests what business theorists call “disruptive innovation,” which is innovation that creates a new market – a new standard for excellence.
With data center infrastructure underpinning the very fabric of an exploding digital economy, innovation in our industry has never been more critical. But what does it mean to be truly innovative in our industry? Is a two-percentage point improvement in power usage effectiveness (PUE) enough to be considered the high-performance innovators our customers now require?
At Aligned, we look upon innovation with a wider aperture. Aligned innovates across every aspect of our business – beyond incremental power usage improvements, beyond artificial intelligence (AI), even beyond our own proprietary technology. This means disruptive innovation across the way we finance our business and continued growth; educate younger generations about the opportunities in the data center market; recruit, hire and develop our talent; select the systems and technologies that underpin our business; operate our facilities with the highest degree of excellence; the implementation of production, not construction, at all of our data center build sites; and much, much more.
Innovate. Disrupt. Repeat.
Beginning with a leadership team with 175-plus years of collective industry experience who cultivate a culture of customer focus, passion, and operational excellence, to diverse and inclusive multi-level recruitment that spans secondary education, universities, and military veterans, to mentorship and employee development that ensure continuous upskilling, high levels of engagement, and peak performance – we’re a company of original thinkers and creative problem-solvers. That’s who we tend to attract, and, not incidentally, who our customers and vendors now expect to work with.
Design and Construction
From sustainable building materials, to supply chain decarbonization, to enabling a circular economy by donating construction and demolition (C&D) materials, Aligned is an innovator in data center design and construction. We are defying conventional expectations of how quickly a provider can procure and turn up capacity, from hyperscale campuses to powered shell, our design or custom data center deployments, in any market a customer’s business growth demands.
AI-based, construction progress tracking technologies such as OpenSpace provide our teams with automated 360 ° video jobsite capture and automatic photo-to-plan mapping. This enables quality construction, mitigates risk, and ensures accelerated data center delivery for our customers.
We also take the installation of the most critical equipment out of the field and bring it into the factory. By prefabricating power and cooling equipment off-site and deploying it in specific increments, only when additional capacity is needed, Aligned ensures fast, easy and efficient delivery as well as maximum scalability for our customers. This means that we are not deploying and stranding resources that are not being utilized for an extended time, providing for responsible use of limited resources and reducing our customers’ carbon footprint.
Innovation in design and construction is critical – especially when you have ~270 MW of new development planned this year. Most of this new expansion capacity is Build-to-Scale deployments (Aligned’s version of Build-to-Suit), which demands more in-depth collaboration with our customers to support scale and continued expansion.
It also encompasses creative deal structures and strategies – made possible by Aligned’s patient, sophisticated capital, as well as innovative mechanisms to meet aggressive build timelines and secure ample and readily available inventory in a time of mounting supply chain challenges. Central to Aligned’s Build-to-Scale success is new ways of thinking when it comes to hiring and retaining experienced teams with diverse expertise in areas like strategic land acquisition, network connectivity, power allocation and market analysis.
In addition to giving customers access to their critical infrastructure metrics in real-time, we are working to provide the industry benchmark for true carbon reporting. This encompasses details surrounding how, where, and when energy (or operational carbon) is consumed as well as tracking embodied carbon related to how data centers are built. It entails tracking the sources of customers’ core equipment components and manufacturing procedures as well as data center construction materials.
Water conservation is the next frontier of sustainable data center infrastructure. The typical data center uses three to five million gallons of water per day, or approximately the amount of water consumed by a city of 30,000-50,000 people, according to research by Venkatesh Uddameri, Director of the Water Resources Center at Texas Tech University. We have further innovated our patented and award-winning Delta³™ cooling technology, which can now be seamlessly integrated with a state-of-the-art waterless system to deliver ultra-efficient and waterless data center campuses.
Aligned has brought a number of innovations to data center financing, including the first-ever green, and largest-ever inaugural, data center securitization, and the first-ever U.S. data center sustainability-linked financing. Aligned’s sustainability-linked financing is tied to the company’s core environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including a commitment to match 100% of Aligned’s annual energy consumption to zero-carbon renewable energy by 2024.
Operational Maturity and Customer Success
We’ve also innovated our customer’s path to success. Through the Aligned Insight platform, Aligned delivers high-touch technical support and solutions while offering customers complete visibility and control over their computing environments. When it comes to maintaining 100% uptime and reliability, Aligned’s Remote Expert enables live video streaming of remote hands services and maintenance with Aligned technicians in real time. And because security is paramount, we’re currently exploring the use of drones and robotics for fire and life safety and physical security.
Disruptive innovation; at Aligned, it’s in our DNA. It permeates everything we do. It’s how we’re creating a new standard for excellence, where adaptable, energy efficient and sustainable infrastructure is the driving force.