Data Center POST interview with Sherman Ikemoto, Managing Director at Future Facilities
By way of background, our guest, Sherman Ikemoto, is the Managing Director of Future Facilities, a software company that addresses data center management with a new approach based on a physical simulation capabilities to align the design, operations and business goals of each facility. That’s a lot to digest, so let us help you understand it. Imagine your data center digitally replicated in 3D world that captures all of its components and simulates your data center’s operational behavior and performance. As you turn up, down, add, move, change this environment, the digital replication identifies the compute infrastructure reaction with outputs that illustrate each alteration’s effect on the data center operations – down to the implications on business performance.
To bring this solution to the forefront of the industry, Future Facilities launched its physics-based 3D data center software simulator: the Digital Twin. Serving as a customized, digitized virtual replica of a data center and its entire infrastructure, the Digital Twin allows operators to simulate physical behaviors under any operating scenario, enabling operators and managers in the various data center departments to leverage predictive outcomes to align business goals with facility operations and efficiencies. Pretty cool, right? Well we thought so and wanted to learn more. Read below for our interview with Sherman about Future Facilities’ Digital Twin.
Data Center POST, Question (DCP-Q): What challenges or trends in data center management do you see driving the need for the Digital Twin?
Sherman Ikemoto, Future Facilities, Answer (SI-A): The need for an innovative management solution for data centers is being driven by increasing demand for digital services across industries (enterprise, healthcare, government, colocation, hyperscale). This includes sophisticated applications that are pushing the limits of computing capabilities and driving changes in IT hardware designs and power densities. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated this growth as more people communicate, learn and conduct business virtually using the robust digital infrastructure that is already in place. However, inefficiencies are hidden everywhere and in order for the industry to continue to evolve, we need to identify better, more effective ways to manage data center infrastructure. We believe that the Digital Twin revolutionizes traditional data center management processes by bringing simulation into the process to provide insights that simply are not available today such as environmental compliance, capacity utilization and impact on a data center’s financial viability.
DCP-Q: Can you give Data Center POST and our readers an overview of how the Digital Twin functions? What sets it apart from other monitoring or optimization tools such as DCIM?
SI-A: Data centers are physical systems, and their performance is inextricably linked to their physical configuration. Digital Twin is a computer model — a virtual replica — of the physical data center. It’s based on a 3D data modelling and a physics-based simulation capabilities. Digital Twin mimics the physical responses taking place within the data center, how the facility is expected to react to changes, and thus be able to use this capability to design and manage the data center’s performance over its lifespan. Traditional management solutions lack an understanding of the data center’s physical behavior. It doesn’t consider the physics aspect of how compute and infrastructure equipment could impact the facility – so changes and best laid plans to improve the facility – is hard to gauge. For example, an experienced data center manager could move a CRAC unit to a new location. The move itself is something to plan, however, we assume the move will not change the overall performance. With the Digital Twin, you will be able to effectively simulate the move in advance, identify if the power draw, cooling and air flow would be affected, and how. Perhaps the new location draws more energy to achieve the same results as the original location, right? Drawing more energy will cost the facility more money for power. Our Digital Twin is able to identify this concern and issue before it happens
DCP-Q: Can you tell us more about how users benefit from the Digital Twin or discuss some use cases for this technology?
SI-A: Every physical change to a data center impacts how it uses resources to support the IT configurations. Digital Twin mimics this behavior, giving designers and operators the information they need to plan design and more effectively manage operational changes, safeguarding environmental compliance for the IT configuration while using resources efficiently.
DCP-Q: The Digital Twin encourages holistic visibility, control and predictability for data center management. Why are these important in today’s data center?
SI-A: IT hardware today is changing rapidly. Each new generation introduced and downloadeed is bigger and hotter than the previous. Recent changes in IT hardware have been huge (i.e. from 5 to 10kW per cabinet), and these changes create technical challenges in the design and management of data centers. The challenges are especially large in data center management where a data center must be able to accommodate 3-5+ generations of IT hardware before becoming obsolete. Data centers that are being managed today by traditional practices (those that overlook the physical and performance-based impact of change) end up stranding 44% of their available capacity and struggle continuously with compliance risk.
DCP-Q: With the growing needs for data center sustainability and densification, how does the Digital Twin fit into these evolving standards for design and operation?
SI-A: A data center’s performance (energy efficiency, ability to safeguard environmental compliance and use resources efficiently) is inextricably linked to its physical design and configuration. The components within the data center (IT and infrastructure) interact with each other during operations. These interactions determine how efficiently a data center uses power and how well it safeguards environmental compliance for the IT configuration.
DCP-Q: Are there any Digital Twin success stories that you can discuss to highlight its strengths and results?
SI-A: We have strong examples from a range of industry sectors. An enterprise has deployed the Digital Twin (DT) to plan their operational changes for the past three years (10 data halls, 16.7 MW of capacity). They were using 50% of their 16.7 MW at the time they started using DT. At the beginning, they discovered through DT that they were over provisioning the cooling by 45%. At that rate of cooling allocation, the operator was going to run out of cooling capacity with 3.5 MW of power left over (the equivalent of two data halls wasted). Over the three years of using DT, they were able to reclaim that lost capacity while accommodating new, high-density IT hardware and avoiding environmental risk.
DCP-Q: What does it mean to align design, operations and business goals in the data center? Why are these currently at odds?
SI-A: Traditional management practices are blind to the performance and business outcomes of changes made during data center operations. This blind spot disconnects the technical decisions made to accommodate change from the goals of running safe, cost-effective data centers. Through simulation, Digital Twin mimics the physical behavior of the data center. This is what determines a data center’s performance and its ability to be fully used while safeguarding the IT configuration from failure-inducing compliance problems.
DCP-Q: Thank you for taking the time to share these insights. Where can interested parties learn more about the Digital Twin or contact Future Facilities for more information?
SI-A: To learn more about the company or Digital Twin, please visit www.futurefacilities.com.
About Sherman Ikemoto
Future Facilities is the provider of the Digital Twin for data center design and operational management. Sherman leads sales, marketing and engineering services for the Americas. He is a member of ASHRAE, the Green Grid, AFCOM, Uptime Symposium and the Center for Energy Smart Electronics Systems (ES2). Ikemoto is leading the market education effort at Future Facilities to establish the concept of a Data Center Digital Twin – a 3D, virtual replica of the physical data center – as a standard platform for data center design and management.