Hydrogen-powered, offgrid data centre as a service

$7M seed funding from Molex Ventures and Hyperwise Ventures will support delivery of first built-to-suit, modular data center with fully-renewable 1MW power and zero emissions.

Data Center-as-a-Service pioneer ECL has introduced what it says is gthethe world’s first modular, sustainable, off-grid data center that uses green hydrogen as its primary power source. ECL will deliver data centers in 1MW blocks with 99.9999 percent uptime. The company also announced $7M in seed financing co-led by Molex Ventures and Hyperwise Ventures. Lily Yeung, Vice President at Molex Ventures and Nathan Shuchami, Managing Partner at Hyperwise Ventures join ECL Founder and CEO Yuval Bachar as members of the ECL board of directors. The funds will be used by ECL to expand its market presence and in the construction of its first data center at the company’s Mountain View, Calif. headquarters, with completion scheduled for Q2 2023.

Optimized for use by mid-sized data center operators – typically large companies with a mix of cloud and on-premises IT environments – ECL’s Datacenter-as-a-Service is two-thirds the total cost of ownership (TCO) of traditional colocation data center providers when measured over five years. The community-integrated data center design consumes no local resources, including power or water, and operates with zero emissions at extremely low noise levels. ECL’s modularity and lack of dependence on local utilities also means that its data centers can be designed and delivered much faster than others’, reducing planning and construction cycles from between 18 to 24 months to between six and nine months.

Bachar previously held top engineering, infrastructure and architecture roles at Microsoft Azure, LinkedIn, Facebook, Cisco, Juniper Networks and Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). He was a founder of the Open19 project, a data center industry initiative establishing a new open standard for servers based on a common form factor, and is past president of the Open19 Foundation. He holds eight U.S. patents in data center, networking and system design and is the recipient of three Cisco Pioneer Awards.

“We are proud to be a part of this much-needed revolution in the data center industry, and look forward to working closely with Yuval and his team as they bring this peerless innovation to market,” said Shuchami. “ECL has a long lead on the competition in the delivery of a data center powered primarily by green hydrogen and we can’t wait to stand with them as they raise the curtain in Q2 2023.”

“It’s exciting to see ECL investing to bring tremendously relevant and novel experience into this high growth space around customizable modular data centers that can support the growing demand for advanced and flexible computational needs and sustainable power use,” said Lily Yeung, VP of Molex Ventures.

ECL is the Industry’s First Off-grid, Fully Hydrogen-Powered Data Center

While other data center providers have deployed hydrogen fuel cells as backup power supplies, and with some conducting trials of systems forecast for production delivery in three-to-five years, ECL is the first provider to deliver a fully-green hydrogen-powered data center. This leapfrog innovation is enabled by bringing together several disruptive technologies including green hydrogen-based power generation, battery energy storage and highly reliable power architecture without dependence on the utility grid. This maximizes efficiency and time to delivery and all but eliminates waste.

Advanced Cooling Innovations Increase Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)

ECL cooling innovations enable much higher density-per-rack than traditional data center providers, a strong benefit given the increasing per-server power consumption driven by accelerating chip and system density. Water created as a by-product of hydrogen-based power generation is used to cool ECL’s server racks, eliminating the need for external water sources. Combining this with proprietary rear door heat exchange technology results in lower Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratios than any other colocation data center provider.

With PUE of 1 representing optimal efficiency, traditional colocation providers average approximately 1.57 across all their data centers with the best-of-class able to achieve approximately 1.2 with an average of eight kilowatts of power per rack. ECL will achieve PUE of 1.05 across all of its data centers, with up to 50 kilowatts per rack. By achieving meaningfully lower PUE ratios and higher rack densities, ECL’s customers will benefit from significantly lower cost of real estate, space and power consumption.

ECL Lightning Data Center Management Platform

ECL data centers feature an advanced full data center management system – ECL Lightning™ – which is used to monitor and control every aspect of the ECL data center, from power generation to power delivery and rack cooling, in real time. Its unique and intuitive UI provides comprehensive, clear and simple monitoring, which enables finite control of all aspects of operating the data center.

Networking Flexibility Enables Wide Range of Locations

ECL data centers are built on their customers’ sites of choice, with or without existing network access. When no fiber is present at the selected site, an ECL partner provides a fiber backbone along with cloud interconnection via its network-as-a-service platform, while ECL provides last-mile access using the customer’s provider of choice. This flexibility in network provisioning, coupled with ECL’s green hydrogen-based primary power, means that data center locations no longer need to be driven by network or power grid availability.

Hydrogen Among Safest Fuels

Hydrogen is considered among the safest fuels available on the market today and is considered far safer, when handled appropriately, than gasoline, natural gas, jet fuel or diesel, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technologies Office. As the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy notes, “Hydrogen is non-toxic. In addition, because hydrogen is much lighter than air, it dissipates rapidly when it is released, allowing for relatively rapid dispersal of the fuel in case of a leak. As more and more hydrogen demonstrations get underway, hydrogen's safety record can grow and build confidence that hydrogen can be as safe as the fuels in widespread use today.”

“The innovations we are announcing today set a new bar for flexibility and sustainability in the global data center industry,” said Yuval Bachar, Founder and CEO of ECL. “Never before has hydrogen been harnessed for use as the primary power source for the data center and that, combined with the unmatched efficiency of our cooling system and our emissions-free operations, is unique in the world today. I would like to thank our investors at Molex and Hyperwise, whose support for our vision and recognition of our capabilities is enabling us to change the very nature and future of this industry.”

According to a recently published report by Dell’Oro Group, global data center capex grew 15 percent to $241 billion in 2022. However, we project cloud and enterprise data center spending to decelerate to single-digit growth in 2023.
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