Data center News
Flexential’s CEO On ‘The New World Order’ Of The GPU-Driven Data Center
‘Ultimately, the data center space is what makes this all real,’ Flexential CEO Chris Downie tells CRN, adding that the secondary data center markets are poised for growth.
Until a few months ago, the data center space had been built to optimize compute, but the need to push bigger graphic processes for generative AI has created a “new world order” in which data centers like Flexential are one of only a handful of providers able to compete, CEO Chris Downie told CRN.
“We’re pretty excited about the ability of our next-generation infrastructures to support these GPU environments which, not all, I’d say traditional data centers are capable of, and so there’s a new world order, if you will,” he said.
Downie said GPU workloads need more space for bigger cabinets and more power – between 30 to 50 kilowatts of electricity — as well as the federation capabilities to take the data and scale it, and then deliver it where it needs to go. The traditional big data center markets are built for the smaller rack sizes and lower power caps needed to run CPU workloads.
“Those raw materials, land and power, in particular have become, I’d say more constrained than ever in those traditional data center markets be it in North Virginia, Santa Clara, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, and so while there’s still capacity there, that consumer has had to migrate to solutions that are more geodiverse than they’ve ever, ever been before,” he said. “We obviously have been in what I’ve called secondary markets for almost 20 years now building scale and brand recognition.”
The generative AI market is nascent at this stage, but Downie and Flexential — a CRN Cloud 100 company — are among those gearing up for its arrival. Dell Technologies, Lenovo, Broadcom, HPE, nearly all the major infrastructure providers see demand coming from the need to create and train large language models, as well as the capacity to ping those models with queries.
Both activities require massive amounts of graphic processors, which the data center has not been built to prioritize, which Downie said gives the secondary data center markets inside of U.S. coast strongholds a new ability to compete for enterprise customers.
“I think we’re all watching this fast train come in related to AI and GPU infrastructure but when it first began manifesting in terms of prospective customers looking to secure compute environments, given the pace, I really had to ask myself early, do I recognize this as an opportunity that is going to become real? If you think of like the onset of the cloud, it was a concept and then all of a sudden there was a ton of engagement, and it became very real and very big. And I think, as I mentioned earlier, GPU infrastructure is presenting a new form of cloud resource or dynamic elastic compute.”
Flexential announced earlier this month that it is adding capacity to its Hillsboro, Ore.-based facility, as well as in Atlanta, all as part of its FlexAnywhere Platform. The company added capacity to its Denver Englewood Data Center last year. Flexential has three million square feet of data center space in 19 markets.
“We’re making investments and those investments are, I’d say, emboldened, if you will, by the really the demand that we’re seeing which is back to where we started this conversation. It’s fairly unprecedented over the course of the last 18 months. I mean, the digital-driven economy continues to expand and I’d say with this new this new GPU slash AI, opportunity. It’s going to it’s going to accelerate even more.”