Gratte Brothers: Mechanical & Electrical precision
Gratte Brothers is a third-generation family business, established in 1946 that has been offering M&E solutions for over 35 years; its first data centre project dates back to 1995. During the last six years, the company has consistently delivered 30 megawatts of IT power to the mission critical construction market every year.
“We offer specialist knowledge when it comes to resilient engineering services” assures Gratte’s Engineering Director, Remi Suzan. “We've worked with DC supply chains for decades, and have good relationships with our manufacturers and specialist subcontractors. Our contract engineers, site managers, and in-house commissioning teams don't just understand how they work, but ‘why’ they need to work that way, and they bring that deep knowledge to every project.”
Gratte Brothers has worked with Ark for over a decade; an integral part of its partner ecosystem developing modular DC solutions with low energy consumption at their core. “ Together with Ark’s other partner contractors, we worked on developing a modular energy centre that could be associated with the prefabricated data centres that could then be deployed either as a single unit or as multiple units, depending on what Ark needed at the time,” confirms Suzan. “The energy centres containing the UPSs and LV panels were all provided with a cooling system designed on external fresh air. It was calculated that for 98% of the year it could operate without mechanical cooling which was only required in exceptional circumstances at high-peak summer periods.”
“Ark are way ahead of the game when it comes to sustainability,” reckons Suzan. “Their approach is more than just a green message on their website; they really mean it.” Looking to the future, Gratte is exploring the potential for gas turbine generators and hydrogen power systems (HPS) and is fully behind the increased industry focus on supporting net zero strategies. “Back in the 90s, the idea of a green data centre was almost laughable. They were built purely with speed to market in mind and about as green as a bucket of napalm. Now that we can use adiabatic fresh air cooling systems for IT equipment with heat recovery in all of our air solutions allied with the use of photovoltaic panels and LED lighting, energy efficiency has greatly improved.”
“Gratte Brothers, along with JCA, are our preferred mechanical and electrical engineering partners helping us develop improved energy centre solutions. We were also keen to modularise this process so our partners came up with a unique solution which not only utilises the data centre cooling to cool the energy centre, but also allows Ark to build the energy centre off site - improving health and safety while reducing material waste and cost. Though competitors in the market, Gratte Brothers and JCA are both family-run businesses that integrate well with Ark. They’re really adaptable and always looking to innovate. When we need to ensure speed to market, and in times of crisis like we’ve experienced during the pandemic, we rely on these partnerships to deliver safely to our customers.”
Andy Garvin, Director of Design, Construction & Operations, Ark Data Centres.
Who Will Be the Next Tech Giant to Back Bitcoin?
PayPal was the first truly major tech giant to throw its weight behind Bitcoin, unveiling a cryptocurrency buying-and-selling service in October. Next was Tesla, which shocked onlookers in February by announcing the purchase of $1.5 billion in bitcoin, as well as plans to accept the cryptocurrency as payment.
Since then, things have calmed down as far as Big Tech and Bitcoin are concerned (although a number of banks have rolled out cryptocurrency investment services for their wealthier clients). This raises the question: when will another significant tech firm take the plunge and back bitcoin?
This is a difficult question to answer, if only because the bitcoin market is in something of a funk right now. At the same time, regulators worldwide are looking to restrict crypto in the name of curbing money laundering and other illicit activities. Nonetheless, rumours continue to swirl through the sector that a few other important names in the tech industry may be on the cusp of embracing bitcoin, with Apple being the most notable.
Is Apple Buying Bitcoin?
If you tend to spend any amount of time on Crypto Twitter, you may be aware of rumours to the effect that Apple has recently bought something in the region of $2.5 billion in bitcoin.
Such rumours were almost certainly a desperate attempt to boost the price of bitcoin. And given that the market didn’t witness a sudden, dramatic rise (but rather a steep loss), it seems pretty clear that Apple didn’t buy a substantial quantity of bitcoin in the past few weeks or so.
That said, there remains a good chance that Apple will enter the cryptocurrency sector at some point, even if it won’t be adventurous enough to buy crypto for itself. Back in May, it placed a job ad for a business development manager for “alternative payments.”
Such a manager would be tasked with cultivating partnerships with “strategic alternative payment providers,” implying that Apple may be weighing up the possibility of launching its own cryptocurrency-purchasing service (à la PayPal) via Apple Pay.
Needless to say, it would be huge for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency if the Cupertino company were to follow through with this.
Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook?
Rumours have also revolved around possible bitcoin interest from Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, although there’s a little less substance to most of these rumours.
Back in October former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager Raoul Pal predicted that Microsoft (along with Apple) would buy bitcoin in five years. Unfortunately, a CNN interview with Microsoft’s Brad Smith in February (shortly after Tesla’s bitcoin purchase) revealed that the company had no plans to purchase crypto, although Smith vaguely hinted that it might one day change its collective mind.
More interestingly, Amazon purchased three cryptocurrency-related domain names back in 2017: amazonethereum.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, amazoncryptocurrencies.com. Nothing has been heard since then, while a job listing from February of this year revealed that the retail giant may be planning to launch its very own digital currency.
Facebook is another tech firm with plans for its own digital currency (Diem, formerly known as Libra). As for whether it’s likely to turn to bitcoin, a few relatively respected figures within the cryptocurrency industry (e.g. Alistair Milne) did spread rumours in April that the social media company would disclose bitcoin holdings on its Q1 financial statement. This didn’t happen, although Mark Zuckerberg did reveal in May that one of his pet goats is called “Bitcoin,” fuelling further speculation as to his and his firm’s interest in the cryptocurrency.
Risks and Rewards of Cryptocurrency
Again, it’s arguable that some or most of the rumours are generated largely to pump crypto prices. But if bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies do continue to appreciate in value and attract more adoption, it will become increasingly harder for large tech companies to ignore them.
But at the moment, it’s likely that most major tech firms will shy away from actually buying bitcoin, if only because it remains highly volatile and unpredictable as an asset. And as we saw with Tesla, buying a massive chunk of the cryptocurrency effectively turns you into a hedge fund overnight, something which can adversely affect your stock price if bitcoin goes down.
Even so, there’s clearly a considerable amount of money tied up in the cryptocurrency market. And with numbers of holders growing every year, it’s only a matter of time before other big tech firms attempt to siphon off some of this value for themselves.