Vancouver’s Global Relay uses innovation to build greener server facility

UCW News Team  |  July 06, 2016

Server Room

The federal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been emphasizing the importance of innovation, and Global Relay’s efforts to build a greener server facility are a good example of how innovation can benefit the environment and businesses at the same time.

Global Relay is a data storage firm housed in a three-storey building close to the waterfront of North Vancouver. The company uses the breeze from the Pacific to cool its interiors. The building has louvered vents on its south walls that allow the breeze to enter and cool the servers inside. The company claims it is able to cool its server racks for one-tenth the cost of traditional air-conditioning.

Global Relay CEO and Co-Founder Warren Roy says the company realized it was ideally located to build a free-air cooled building. This has set it apart from its competition and also captured the imagination of customers.

Shannon Rogers, the company’s president and general counsel, states that using free-air cooling is a success with customers who are in the process of determining their own green agenda. This has prompted many customers to select the vendor because of its green data centre. Rogers added that Global Relay has received positive feedback from its customers, who are mainly big banks and financial institutions.

In today’s technologically advanced world, data centres function as digital warehouses that store information and data from the internet for everything from websites, blogs and videos to medical records and databases of online merchants. However, with data being generated and stored for smart appliances and automobiles, the demand for digital warehouses is set to explode. This has created an urgent need to have energy-efficient data centres that reduce their carbon footprint.

Microsoft Canada Chief Technology Officer John Weigelt said that data centres have learned through experience that their servers can operate at higher temperatures than previously believed. However, many are using less energy-intensive cooling solutions, such as free-air cooling. Even Microsoft is using this form of cooling at its new data centres.

Global Relay uses harbour air that is drawn through massive air exchangers, where the air is filtered before being circulated around the building. If the outside temperature is more than 24 degrees Celsius, the company uses an evaporative water-cooling system.

Innovation is a big part of being a business owner or entrepreneur. The constantly changing dynamics of the marketplace, combined with the need to reduce operational costs and overheads, mean that entrepreneurs and small business owners have to come up with novel solutions to succeed. They can acquire this acumen through the UCW MBA program, which helps students learn out-of-the-box decision-making through careful analysis. This is a crucial skill for succeeding in the highly competitive business world. 

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