With companies worldwide understanding the importance of embracing technology in order to stay ahead of their competitors, it has become increasingly significant for firms to undergo a digital transformation in order to achieve and sustain success. For leading data center provider, Aligned Energy, the mission of innovation and the launch of new facilities has become vital to the company’s progression.
Establishing core principles
After 20 years of complex transactional experience and multi-disciplinary senior leadership, Chief Executive Officer of Aligned Energy, Andrew Schaap, understands how key it was to form and maintain core principles when he first joined the company in 2017. “One of the first things I did when I came on board was to try and focus the organization on what our core mission and vision actually were. I felt there had been some great innovation before I arrived, providing a solid foundation for growth and further performance improvements,” explains Schaap. “As a rule of thumb, I believe that if you have more than three tasks per day, then you usually fail at them. The human brain works just like a computer because you’re always switching to different tasks. I made sure that when I joined that I really focused the entire organization on a key vision, mission, and focus that we were going to pursue moving forward. As a result of this, we've enjoyed some significant success in the last 18 months, growing the company by more than 1000%.”
Such success has been achieved with the company paying close attention to how it conducts its business on the infrastructure side, as well as choosing to operate in an alternative way to its competitors in a bid to stay ahead. “We really looked at what we were doing on the infrastructure side, and fine-tuned our supply chain to enable us to work with our partners,” says Schaap. “We've adapted some of the best practices that some of the giants use, such as GE, to ensure that our partners can help us to stay nimble and ahead of the curve. We're doing something in our supply chain that's completely different. We've spent a lot of time and energy choosing the right partners and honing our logistics model. Timely and fiscally responsible inventory management is very important to us in delivering against the exacting expectations of our clients.”
Launching new facilities
Through the unveiling of a new 180-megawatt data center campus in Ashburn, Virginia in September 2018, Aligned Energy has demonstrated a determination to expand its data campuses in order to address the needs of cloud providers and hyperscalers that demand a highly dynamic, scalable and future-proof data center solution. The 26-acre master-planned data center campus offers approximately 880,000 square feet of expandable space, drawing power from two on-site substations, as well as access to over 50 carriers in the immediate area. Schaap believes the new facility has allowed his company to be different. “We have the ability to connect with multiple carriers and diverse routes, as well as a power silo connecting to multiple hub stations upstream of us into Dominion Energy,” says Schaap. “What makes us different is our innovative cooling technology, which allows us to sense when we should use water or when we should switch to lower or zero water utilization based on what's actually happening with the weather in real time. I believe we're the only ones that have that unique technology.”
With Aligned Energy’s clients firmly in mind, Schaap’s the decision to choose Virginia was primarily based on its location - central to the biggest networks. “We decided on our particular location in Virginia because it’s in proximity to one of the highest networked pathways in the nation. We're in the middle of all the biggest networks,” says Schaap. “It’s been fantastic for us because our existing clients can't wait for us to get there and we're already active with lots of discussions that are quite advanced on our first chunk of capacity. We expect the site to be live, with active customers late in summer 2019.”
Sustainability in the data center space
With the importance of remaining sustainable a key priority for Aligned Energy, the company’s data center platform and dynamic infrastructure have been designed with the future in mind in order to address the unpredictable usage and growth models that are becoming table stakes in today’s deployments.
Technologies such as cloud, IoT, AI/ML, blockchain, and more are generating exponentially more heat in the same cubic area. This is why access to green energy and the ability to accommodate exponential platform growth are becoming increasingly important. Schaap believes that implementing technology that is adaptable, efficient and dynamic allows the company to give its clients peace of mind about the future ahead.
“If you're in a climate like Virginia, water shouldn't really be a problem. However, these assets are long-term, and no one has any idea if in 10 years’ time Virginia may go into a drought season. We actually have the ability to turn off our water usage and still run a dry solution. There are no other companies that we know of that have anything like that,” he affirms. “I believe it's very innovative and clients love it because they don't ever want to move out of a data center. They can literally come in today and not have to worry about what lies around the corner in two years, five years, 10 years, even 15 years from now. Clients want stability, predictability and a partner that provides them with a path to the future as well as peace of mind. Our continued growth and solid capital foundation have enabled us to be that stable partner for our customers. On the innovation side, our focus is on removing any potential concerns that our customers may have in five or 10 years from now. No one else can really do that apart from Aligned.”
With the future in mind, Schaap affirms Aligned Energy remains on the lookout for potential expansion opportunities outside of its existing U.S. locations in Dallas, TX, Phoenix, AZ, and Salt Lake City, UT, as well as abroad. “We’re actively looking for the next opportunity all the time and we’re really interested in what our clients are doing so we ensure we spend a lot of time talking to them directly,” says Schaap. “We will also use our great capital and infrastructure to go a little bit further and be more responsive to our core elements. I believe you'll see us continue to grow and continue to land into new markets. As we move forward, expanding internationally is absolutely on our radar and we're ensuring that we pay close attention to the latest trends worldwide.”
Schaap believes that the company’s success is largely due to the great teamwork and drive within Aligned Energy, which have enabled customers’ needs to be met. “The team here is so important. We're attracting and retaining great talent and the culture is focused on innovation, inclusion and customer-centric support. Everybody wants to go to sleep at night knowing that they did right by the clients,” explains Schaap. “We empower teams to execute and perform on behalf of the clients. You don't have to ask for permission or forgiveness as long as you're taking care of the customer. Through our empowerment program, we've emboldened a lot of our operations and site teams to make sure that they're serving the clients' needs immediately.”