Leading Edge is working to connect regional Australia, while reducing emissions through the solar structure encasing its data centres.
The company was recently awarded at the Datacloud Global Awards 2021 for the ‘Edge Award‘, which celebrates “Innovation in delivering superior user experience in connectivity and interconnections for Edge Data Centres”.
While the NBN’s mandate was to lift the digital capability of regional Australia by connecting rural locations to faster and more accessible internet, the network relies on the telco networks bringing the backhaul to Sydney. Leading Edge has connected into the NBN and to the Telstra Exchange to act as a “pressure release valve for the backhaul network.”
According to Chris Thorpe, founder and CEO of Leading Edge, by processing and generating content at the edge, in regional locations, rather than having the content travel through the current telco network, from regional to Sydney and back, “It’s faster, it’s cheaper and the level of resilience increases significantly.”
“If you’re a hospital, for example, do you want your IT infrastructure 500kms away?” asks Thorpe.
While regional Australia comprises locations that are facing the greatest risk in the country to natural disasters, such as bushfires, floods, and more recently vermin plagues, Leading Edge claims it has mitigated these risks through its airtight solar structure.
“The big steel frame structure is built to withstand virtually anything that God can throw at it. Literally it comes over the whole facility.”
According to Thorpe, the facilities are out of bushfire zones, are not at risk of drought as they do not require water, are built in 1-in-500-year flood zones and are in air-tight pressurised facilities that protect against vermin.
Not only does the structure protect against the elements, but also elongates the life of the data centre. The company claims that it takes the data centre from a 20- to a 50-year life span as a “sustainable certified structure.”
“It’s a fairly simple idea. It’s a bit like your grandma buying a lounge 50 years ago and she never took the plastic off. Same thing. If you take the plastic off now, it’s still going to look fantastic.”
While Thorpe swears he’s not the kind of person who leaves plastic on his sofa, he does vouch for the structure’s sustainability use case.
“It creates a two metre air gap that’s on a slight slope. So we naturally get the cooler air circulating on a really hot, sunny day. So the actual data centre is almost living in a bit of a cool air vacuum.”
The air cooling technique is one of the key ways that Leading Edge is working to improve data centre sustainability and reduce electricity consumption.
Which-50 recently investigated the carbon footprint of data centres, and the role of CIOs in taking responsibility in this space. When it comes to getting CIOs on board with sustainability targets, Thorpe agrees that KPIs related to sustainability measures would be an effective measure.
He says, “I think putting KPIs on CIOs is a fantastic way forward. I think you have to bring KPIs in. Remuneration is linked to those KPIs so its a way to really drive sustainability.”
He names “reduction in carbon emissions” and “reduction in power usage efficiency (PUE)” as two potential measures.
Leading Edge has partnered with Schneider Electric to develop the technologies that allow for greater efficiencies, and to drive them at scale.
It also has a partnership with IBM to distribute IBM’s cloud environment across all Leading Edge facilities.