Phasing is all the rage

And it’s Just in Time.

Last week the Northern California 7×24 Exchange held their Spring event covering the topic of Construction Best Practices. One clear theme that emerged was the need for Flexible, Phased Capacity as new data centers are built out. Several speakers and panelists addressed market trends in outsourcing that drive this need.

Ron Vokoun from JE Dunn Construction, explained several trends in outsourcing and new construction that are driving the need for flexible capacity.

  1. Small businesses are moving IT to co-lo and cloud providers.
  2. Medium businesses are moving IT to co-lo and wholesale providers.
  3. Most new construction is purpose built, Greenfield, and larger in scale, yet with larger shells, initial fit-outs are modest and subsequent fit-outs are delayed until occupancy is closer.

Sam Brown, VP of Engineering and Construction for Server Farm Realty echoed this phasing approach explaining that customers tell them, “We need 500Kw now and over five years we plan to ramp into 2MW.”

fmiPolargy sees this emerging trend of “phasing” reflected in an increasing appetite for our Floor Mounted Infrastructure (FMI) among co-lo and wholesale providers.

Our FMI solution incorporates containment, cable and power trays, and lighting. It is essentially a “modular white space” solution deployed in response to actual demand for capacity. Using a phasing approach, after the shell and raised floor is built out, the remaining infrastructure of containment, power, cable, and lighting can be deployed as needed. This is less constraining to the layout, which may not be fully understood until actual customers come in and their requirements clarify.

Perhaps most importantly for the industry, this “just in time” approach to data center infrastructure goes a long way toward smoothing bumps in the business model many insiders  are anxious about, as I discussed in my previous post about maturation and rationalization. The ability to easily defer and fine-tune capital investment until actual demands are understood will be a competitive advantage for early adopters of phasing.

Because Polargy has deep expertise and experience with precision design and rapid deployment, we anticipate strong demand for our FMI solution that enables easy Phasing, as this new fit-out trend grows into an industry Best Practice.

Selling into Latin America

Latin America is one of the fastest growing data center markets in the world, so the topic “Building Data Centers in Latin America” was perfect for IDG’s 21st Century Data Center Symposium held in Dallas a couple weeks ago.
Based on the conference, I have these recommendations for product latijns-amerikadelivery into the region:
  1. Set expectations based on the specifics the individual country, LatAm is not homogeneous. For example, Chile is strict on paperwork, Guatemala is more relaxed.
  2. Clarify delivery terms. Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) needs to clearly define the shipment hand-off. The difference between the “construction site” and the “staging/off site receiving area” can be weeks—and kilometers—apart.
  3. Value Added Tax (VAT) is complex, get professional help. In some cases it can be recovered, in most cases it needs to be paid in advance.
  4. Business practices vary by country, there’s a large gray area of local expeditors, prepaid contractor fees, etc. Know that going in, do the necessary research.
  5. Duties vary widely with Brazil having the steepest ones. Plan for these in your project costing and make sure duty codes for your products are correct.
brazil-startup4116-620x354Polargy has partnered with Anixter for most of our product deliveries into the LatAm region which allows us to leverage local boots on the ground to handle most of these logistical, tax, and duty issues.
We anticipate continued success in the LatAm region and look forward to sharing more insights as we gain them.

CAPRATE recap: Beauty Day on the Bay

Last week Polargy attended the Third Annual Northern California Data Center Summit hosted by CAPRATE. The event was held in San Francisco at the beautiful St. Francis Yacht Club overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Polargy’s expo table enjoyed this amazing view.IMG_6583

Here are my high level takeaways from the event:

  • The data center industry is entering a maturation/rationalization cycle with many aspects of the industry undergoing rapid change.
  • Data center location near major population centers still matters a lot because of latency & performance requirements and lingering “server hugging” mindsets among senior staff
  • Demand for capacity remains high but prices/revenues are nonetheless under pressure
  • Energy consumption & conservation continue to be big concerns but now we’re beginning to hear more about water consumption & conservation
  • The Northern California market plays by its own rules (as always) with high energy rates, a surplus of demand, heavy regulation and long building schedules
  • Surplus capacity remains rampant with IT commonly operating at 40-50% of capacity
  • Enterprise outsourcing is still very low and represents a huge opportunity

Unlike other large scale industries that have matured and rationalized after 20 years, the data center industry remains fast-paced and dynamic. Not quite chaotic, but lots of moving pieces.

Because of the rapid pace of IT evolution, predicting the future of the industry is becoming both more difficult and more important if you’re an owner or operator. In light of this, the panel discussion I moderated titled Future Proofing Data Centers was certainly timely.


I very much enjoyed moderating this group of industry experts:

We discussed topics like:

  • What is the expected life of your new data center?
  • What is the technology planning horizon?
  • Colos build a 20 year asset, yet leases run only 3 to 5 years
  • Who is at the table for planning the new data center?
  • What factors impact the use model/capability requirements?
  • How does white space layout need to change over time?
  • How does “modularity” play into getting the most of the 20 year building?

Parting words of wisdom on ‘future proofing’ from my panel:

  • Flexible capacity that allows an operator to respond to market conditions is the key.
  • IT density and power consumption could double in 10 years.
  • Plan to swap out your large assets and build extra floor area to facilitate upgrades.
  • Government regulation is a large unknown that has the potential to change the game.
  • If you’re not designing for environmental constraints like water availability, you should.


A big thank you to all my panelists for dedicating time to this important topic, and to CAPRATE for organizing this event.

Sealing gaps: We’ve come a long way

Ship bld Caulk 7Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. In ancient times, boat builders would pack fibers, reeds and pitch into cracks between the planks of their boats to seal water leaks. I invented PolarDam five years ago because data center operators needed a low-cost, simple, flexible and safe method for sealing a wide variety of air gaps to improve cooling efficiency.
Over the years, we’ve enjoyed hearing stories about how operators sealed air gaps prior to using PolarDam, and here are a few of the more entertaining examples:
  1. Software. Yes, software. The data center was once home to countless software packages (CDs, manuals, etc.) for enterprise desktop support. Since all those boxes were just sitting around—and about the right size (5″ x 7″)—facilities managers used them to block off cable openings in empty racks.
  2. Foam peanuts. Inventive? Yes. Fire safe? No. We don’t know the whole story of how they were held in place, but they were called out by the fire marshal as not fire safe, so they had to go. The site manager replaced them with fire safe PolarDam air dam foam.
  3. Cardboard. This is no surprise given its ubiquity except for the obvious fire danger. In haste to achieve energy savings, this operator overlooked the potential to actually accelerate a possible fire by packing kindling throughout his data center.
  4. Rags. This is an odd example because there’s no reason to suspect the data center operator already had quantities of rags on hand, so they must have intentionally purchased a large quantity of new clean rags to plug air gaps. Probably not as bad as cardboard or software but certainly not up to code. PolarDam to the rescue again.
  5. Packing foam. Think about that pink packing foam that protects new-in-box computers and servers. Now imagine you’re supposed to wedge pieces of this rigid foam into air gaps of different shapes and sizes. It sounds like a nightmare, maybe even punishment, but definitely awkward and inefficient. Clearly not “the right tool for the job.”
  6. Wood. Scraps of wood. If I didn’t hear this myself, I’m not sure I would believe it. Is there any good use for wood in the data center? How does one fashion a custom wood block “air dam” on site without multiple cuts and resulting saw dust? If I hadn’t invented PolarDam, I think I’d sooner recommend fiber, reeds and pitch.
DSCN3974 (1)No need to seal air gaps with rubbish or other flammable materials, PolarDam seals your large and small air gaps, no tools required, and it’s fire safe.
Send us your entertaining “stop gap” stories from the days before you used PolarDam air dam foam:

US Patent #8,684,067 goes to SPS


On April 1, 2014, Polargy received approval for our patent application for PolarPlex™ Suspended Panel System (SPS) by the US Patent & Trademark Office.


PolarPlex SPS is a ceiling-suspended aisle containment solution for data centers. It’s designed with an innovative quick-connect channel system that holds SPS panels perfectly straight and secure while also allowing quick and easy removal.


Lightweight ceiling-suspended SPS panels offer functional and aesthetic advantages over vinyl curtains yet are competitively priced. PolarPlex SPS provides better thermal sealing, simpler installation, and a cleaner appearance than curtain containment.


For overhead applications, PolarPlex SPS is rack-independent, supported by the ceiling rather than server cabinets. This design enables cabinets to be moved in and out without affecting the containment system. In containment environments built with our Overhead Prefabricated System or Floor Mounted Infrastructure, full-length SPS panels can fill gaps between racks or completely isolate the aisle during commissioning.


CEO of Polargy, Cary Frame, reports: “PolarPlex SPS has filled a product gap in data center containment for at least the past year and we’re delighted to receive patent approval for this invention. The novel SPS channel design means these panels hang straight and strong for optimal airflow management, but can be installed and removed quickly and easily without tools. PolarPlex SPS has raised the bar on hot- and cold-aisle containment solutions.”

Watch Cary’s video about now-patented SPS.

We also recently announced a major update to its website which now features CAD, BIM, and SketchUp design files for Polargy containment solutions. These freely downloadable design files help data center architects and engineers quickly evaluate and spec our containment solutions for new construction and retrofit projects.

See further details about SPS here.SPS1