“Monitoring allows us to be more efficient”

Alfonso Pascual is Head of Infrastructure for Adam’s data center in Madrid. His role is to ensure the availability of the data center facilities, monitoring each of the elements that make up their infrastructure. He was in charge of supervising the construction of Adam’s new data center in Madrid.

In this interview, Alfonso tells us what infrastructure management consists of and explains the latest trends and innovations in energy efficiency and data center construction.

You are one of the most experienced team members. Tell us about your career at Adam.

I joined Adam almost six years ago. I saw that they had a very interesting project, in a growing and close-knit company that would allow me to grow and develop.

I started as an account manager in Madrid, and then went on to coordinate the construction and commissioning of Adam’s new data center there. I am currently in charge of the infrastructure of that DPC.

What does an infrastructure manager do? What is a typical day like at Adam?

In the infrastructure department of Adam in Madrid, our technicians and I take care of the proper functioning of the facilities, so that the center operates continuously, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

On a typical day, revisions and maintenance are carried out on of the parts that make up the data center infrastructure:

  • Electrical infrastructure systems such as transformers, generator sets, panels or UPSs. 
  • Air-conditioning of the different technical rooms and operators. 
  • Systems of the detection and extinguishing of fires.
  • Security and access control systems.
  • Monitoring elements.
  • Rack cabinets.
  • Network equipment and connectivity.

These elements are what constitutes a data center. They are designed and operated to offer continuous service at all times, and each critical element has a duplicate in order to avoid single points of failure.

The infrastructure department is also responsible for other tasks, such as the provision process of the different housing services for our clients, support, or management of incoming requests in the ticketing tool.

How is the infrastructure of a data center managed? What does the DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) consist of?

To manage the infrastructure of a data center we must know the status of each of its elements at all times, and for this, two things are necessary:

First, a strict and detailed plan for the maintenance and revision of the infrastructure.

Second, a monitoring system that allows us to know the status of the data center and to help us in operational tasks and optimization of resources.

This is where the DCIM comes in, a system that provides us with real-time information on any element of the data center. With this tool we can maintain an inventory of the different parts of the DPC, monitor them in real time and generate alerts that allow us to act before anything happens.

This system allows us to be more efficient in many ways. For example, regarding energy efficiency, we can have a precise view of how the air-conditioning equipment operates, and see its impact thanks to the multiple sensors distributed throughout the different rooms. Like this, we can apply more precise and efficient configurations based on the data that it offers.

We also have constant access to information on the status of other elements, such as electrical systems, and generate alerts when something is not within the established operating parameters. This allows us to react quickly and efficiently to any anomaly.

One of your latest projects has been managing the construction of Adam’s new data center in Madrid. Can you tell us about the latest trends in data center construction?

The data center sector is clearly booming and we see this especially in Madrid, which for a few years now has positioned itself as a digital hub for southern Europe. In the next five years, there will be an estimated 680 million euro investment , thanks to the deployment of the cloud regions of the big technology companies such as Microsoft, Google or IBM.

For us, in addition to following design criteria based on TIER III standards to guarantee the availability of our services, another point to take into account today is energy efficiency. 

Today, more than ever, the reduction of carbon emissions and operating costs derived from electricity consumption has become essential when building and operating a data center.

To do this, we rely on technologies such as free-cooling in our air-conditioning systems, high-efficiency electrical systems and a sensor network to allow optimum performance of these elements.

What innovations have you implemented in terms of energy efficiency in this new data center?

In terms of ambient measurement, a new sensor system has been incorporated into the Madrid DPC that allows us to know, in detail, what is happening inside our rooms. 

The system offers us data on temperature, humidity and pressure, all collected from a network of sensors that cover almost every point in our technical rooms. 

This allows us to make thermal maps that show, at any time, how our rooms are functioning in terms of air-conditioning.

Based on this data, we apply configurations that allow us to be much more efficient, and correct possible inefficiencies thanks to an integrated AI system.

How does Adam’s Madrid data center fit in with the big trends in hyperscale data centers?

These days, the trend is to build large hyperscale data centers with the capacity to provide hosting for large technology companies.

However, not all company profiles fit this model. A hyperscale data center service does not fit the needs of many integrators, and hyperscale providers end up leaving out smaller companies.

That is why we build our data centers with a modular design that allows us to achieve two objectives:

On the one hand, every time we open a room, we can use the latest technology in construction and energy efficiency. 

In addition to this, we can also achieve contained and sustainable growth; one better adapted to those clients who don’t require the dimensions and densities of a hyperscale center. Instead, we are a hosting service provider that listens to them, understands them and can help them in their projects.

What are your next projects?

In the near future we plan to expand our data center in Madrid, in Alcalá, with new rooms for hosting clients, allowing Adam in Madrid to grow.