Last month, I was invited to join Schneider Electric’s Acceleration at the Edge press and analyst event in Barcelona. As my first data centre-related press event, I felt rather fortunate to be heading back to Spain, where I could deploy my Spanish lingo. I quickly realised however, that my knowledge of data centre terminology in Español needs some serious improvement!
It was a pleasure to be joined by Data Centre magazine, IT Pro, the Uptime Institute and OMDIA, among others, in the Catalan capital. In addition to seeing some of Barcelona’s incredible heritage sites we also experienced a gastronomic delight in El Nacional.
The two-day event included an exclusive tour of the famous Basílica and talks from Schneider Electric’s prefabricated data centre experts, as we visited its Sant Boi de Llobregat factory to see where the Modular data centres of the future are built.
Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
Discovering a prefabricated data centre in the heart of the Sagrada Familia, the city’s unfinished Roman Catholic cathedral, came somewhat as a pleasant surprise to me and indeed, some of the other guests.
Unusually the data centre infrastructure that runs these systems is located on-site in a prefabricated modular facility – a system which was delivered directly to the site with integrated racks, UPS, power distribution, cooling and management pre-installed and ready for deployment.
One might ask, why does Sagrada Familia need a data centre?
Well, given the volume of visitors per day, the data centre plays a central role in enabling digital ticketing, validation, and baffle gate systems for visitors. And to utilise all the data generated the attraction is using big data analytics and exploring its use in areas such as predictive analytics and simulation of construction, visitor numbers, and tourists, and how each might impact the other.
As the site is constantly evolving, the architects are piloting augmented reality for the Basílica’s maintenance, and using drones to be able to monitor any external issues while watching the construction project unfold in real-time.
The trip began with a tour of where the Sagrada Familia data centre was born, Schneider Electric’s Sant Boi de Llobregat factory. The site is the epicentre for the company’s prefabricated operations throughout Europe and Africa, covering 46,000 m2 and employs over 300 workers.
This is where, with the launch of its Easy Modular All-in-One Data Centers, the factory can deliver both off-the-shelf and customised prefabricated data centres in as little as 12 weeks. As part of the visit, we also got to see a range of infrastructure solutions, from all-in-one modules to bespoke liquid cooled systems being used as proof of concept and research systems for the manufacturing industry.
The sustainable data centres of the future
What shone through, was the focus on sustainability, with Schneider Electric taking continual steps to reduce its carbon footprint. This includes designing its data centres for efficiency and resiliency, using ultra efficient components, and to actively engaging with reporting on scope 3 emissions.
The company, for example, sets targets throughout its supply chain (scope 3 emissions are more nuanced than scope 1 and 2, as they broadly represent all other indirect emissions from value chain activities). This has led to Schneider Electric manufacturing 90% of its data centre components to ensure the company has knowledge of and control over how those components are made.
Measuring the carbon impact of components has also prompted, wherever possible, to reduce the use of concrete by providing the data centre in a steel enclosure or module and shipping it to the customer’s site. In this scenario, the data centre doesn’t have to be on a concrete pad (steel has a lower embodied carbon impact than concrete and generates less waste).
All in all, the hard work of the marketing and communications team, in addition to the company and speakers made the press tour a great success. I want to add my special thanks to all those who made the event possible.
Laëtitia Cousin Lainé Lavina Dsouza Elizabeth O’Sullivan Marilia Sforcin Ferreira Joe Kramer Tuan Hoang Mustafa Demirkol Elliott Turek Daniel Bizo; Michael Connolly Vlad Galabov Josephine Walbank ZachMarzouk Omdia Uptime Institute Data Centre Magazine IT Pr