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Edge Computing: A Greener, Better Data Solution With Tom Frazier

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In today’s rapidly expanding digital landscape, data centers play a crucial role that cannot be overlooked. Since data is expected to increase nonstop, such structures will only require more energy and resources to continue to operate. This is where edge computing comes in. Corinna Bellizzi is joined by Tom Frazier, CEO of Redivider, to discuss the best practical solutions to keep the entire industry of data centers alive while resources become scarcer for humanity. He explains how edge computing can lead to higher sustainability and social impact, bringing business boards and IT professionals together towards the proper management of data growth. Tom also talks about the role of artificial intelligence in maintaining and revolutionizing data centers, which will become more demanding as time passes.

About Tom Frazier

CMBB 154 | Data CentersTom Frazier, the co-founder and CEO of Redivider, boasts an impressive 25-year career, driving transformational and disruptive architectural initiatives in future tech, B2B, and public sectors. As a serial entrepreneur, Tom founded Redivider based on his extensive knowledge of data centers and a passion for revolutionizing the industry. Committed to prioritizing people, planet, and profits, Tom is devoted to spearheading innovation in the digital economy. Having served as a cloud and security strategic director for a Fortune 10 company, Tom has been instrumental in securing some of the world’s largest digital footprints.

 

Guest LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomfrazier

Guest Website: https://www.redivider.co

 

Show Notes:

00:00 – Introduction

04:10 – From a competitive swing dancer to data center junkie

07:44 – Steps in reducing carbon footprint

10:49 – Redivider’s data centers

16:18 – The impact of artificial intelligence

17:44 – Heat exchange issues

22:54 – Smaller data centers

24:33 – Sustainable Solutions

27:46 – Turning infrastructure challenges into opportunities

31:33 – Heat pumps

35:16 – Sustainable power sources

45:24 – Changing data center practices for good

48:39 – Construction Workforce and its impact on communities

52:14 – Training artificial intelligence

56:50 – Final Words and Conclusion

 

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Edge Computing: A Greener, Better Data Solution With Tom Frazier

We dove deep into subjects around building the future that we all want to live in. From building spaces and cities that we can get around and easily live, work, and play within to the measures that will need to take to create resilient, localized, food systems. Living in the modern world will also need to make technology more accessible and greener. Data and all of its forms should be easy to use, fast, affordable, and leveraged for good.

Joining me for this conversation is someone whose many talents range from competitive swing dancing to leading world-class data centers for Fortune 10 companies. Tom Frazier is the Cofounder and CEO of Redivider, a sustainable and responsible edge computing company. For those of you who don’t understand what edge computing is, we’ll get into that too. Tom is devoted to spearheading innovation in this digital economy leading with a commitment to people, the planet, and profits. Tom Frazier, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me. I’m very excited to be here.

I can trust a competitive swing dancer to keep this conversation interesting.

I hope so.

I’ll ask that you don’t bore me to death the way my husband does with details when it comes to things like eVTOL, Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing aircraft because the space that he’s in is tech and aerospace. In all seriousness, how do you go from being a competitive swing dancer to a data center junkie?

I little sidebar to start the conversation was when I was in university in Upstate New York, I asked this girl, Karen, out on a date. She’s like, “I want to go dancing.” We went to the swing dance class and I got hooked. I never saw her again after that first date, but I always give her credit. I fell in love with dancing because there’s a community aspect to dancing that I find so compelling. It doesn’t matter if you’re a parking lot attendant or an investment banker. Generally, you only go for those in a great mood to begin with. You’re surrounded by this positive energy all the time.

It’s this real society equalizer, and you all share the same passion. I did that more as a hobby for a long time, and I got to a level where I had to make a choice. I go down the path. I’ve been studying in school and got a career in or go professional as a dancer. I’m very happy with my choice that I kept it as a hobby as a release from day-to-day stress instead of making it my job. Instead, I focused on technology, and I’ve been in the data center space since 1996.

You’re someone from my own era. I wore this shirt in part in honor of your swing dancing background because this is something that I might have worn with a cute little skirt to go swinging myself. You work in this space that we can colloquially call big data, and big data scares many people. Can you explain what makes big data so important for all of us do-gooders?

There’s a lot to unpack there. If you look at the volume of data, that’s the important thing to start with. Probably since the beginning of mankind until now, 90% of all data ever generated has been in the past years. If you think about the scale it took to get to where we are now, it’s very impressive. We’re going to hit five times the amount of data we have now within the next years. This growth and data is both consumption and creation as well. People are making YouTube and TikTok videos.

Since the beginning of mankind until today, 90% of all data ever generated has been in the past two years. It will probably hit five times more within the next five to six years. Click To Tweet

This massive volume of data has a lot of impact on both society and how we operate, but also the environment and what that means from water usage, power consumption, noise pollution, and other environmental issues. That’s near and dear to my heart. I’ve got two young kids and I want to make sure that there’s a planet here for them to live on.

Something people might have heard about in the last few years is the carbon footprint of their digital world. Even sending an email and storing it in the cloud versus sending it as an attachment can have an impact. I know people in the space of sustainability that are working to have everything in the cloud and then send people a link to where that piece exists as opposed to ever sending an attachment. This can also save the inboxes of people and irritate them less because you’re not then dumping a bunch of files onto their computer that they may or may not need. What other steps might you encourage people to employ if they’re also looking at reducing their carbon footprint as it relates to data?

It’s hard to connect the dots because when we hear data, it’s this whole virtual thing. You hear about the cloud, and they make it seem very light and easy. The facts of it are very different. If you think of data being stored on your computer, which has a hard drive, there are a lot of minerals being dug out of the ground in different parts of the world. If you think of the transport cost of that, not a dollar but in terms of environmental impact, those things all add up, and you might have the same file, like in your example, 20, 30, or 40 times unnecessarily.

I agree with sending links wherever possible because you’re reducing the things we dig out of the ground. It’s also how we interact with technology that plays a big part in it. For my sector, which is the data center side, if you think of the usage of all these technologies like social media, etc., the more we use them, the more power is required. In 2016, globally, data centers used about 250 or 270 terawatt-hours of electricity. By 2030, so 15-year period, that is going to be about 4X the amount of power. It will be about 1,000 terawatt-hours. If you think of everything required to deliver that power, you have to have power generation facilities that are natural gas or cold.

Maybe they’re solar, wind, or hydroelectric. There are a lot of oxygens. If you think of the transmission, the distribution of that power, and how that impacts communities where that power goes, a lot of times, it’s a net negative for these communities. It’s hard to convince people to change their behavior to be good for the planet. My focus is trying to make sure that everything behind the curtain has an improvement. We can reduce the burden of change on consumers and absorb more of that change as the business.

Where are your data centers located around the world?

Our facilities are designed for what’s called Edge Computing. Think of a big data center. It’s only much smaller. It’s the same capabilities but we’re doing form factors that we can make inside of a factory. By making them inside a factory, we can produce them much more consistently. We can have transparency on the embodied carbon that goes into making the facility therefore, we can deploy them anywhere we want to deploy them. We’ve chosen that model so that we could deploy them in thousands of locations.

In doing so, the idea is to start with this blank sheet of paper. How do we do this in a far more sustainable way? How do we do this with a higher social impact? That led us to the model of making them prefabricated. We’re creating a manufactory. We have higher consistency in what we do, which lowers the cost, which is great. Also importantly, we can measure the embodied carbon that goes into every single facility.

We’re also putting them in locations wherever there’s a need. Generally, it’s near where population centers are, and traditional data centers go where population centers aren’t because they’re very big, loud airport-sounding facilities. By putting them closer to the population centers, we can increase sustainability. We can also do what’s called higher chain GDP, where we can hire and train people locally and have a more heavy hand on the impact that data centers would have on any individual community.

Beyond what you’re already doing to reduce that carbon footprint and making them accessible to a particular community so that the data is traveling less, so to speak, even if it is in the cloud. What else are you doing to benefit people and the planet, not just profits?

That comes down to a range of different things. We’ve decided to focus our alignment on the United Nations’ sustainability development goals. The reason for that is companies, big and small, around the world, have all made these pledges for either NetZero, carbon reduction targets, or things like that. These sustainability development goals are a great framework that is universally understood by corporations, but at the same time, they’re very difficult to build a large enterprise plan and work towards those goals.

CMBB 154 | Data Centers
Data Centers: Companies around the world have made pledges for either net-zero or carbon reduction targets. These sustainability development goals are great frameworks but also very difficult to achieve.

From a computing perspective, this is a real, easy thing for us to showcase. Now, you’re running compute power like this by switching to an edge form factor that Redivider offers. We can instantly help you with these SDGs. SDG 2 is around zero hunger because we can take the waste product of our facility, which is hot water and hot air, and use that to help deliver greenhouses for these communities to change the relationship children have with food, for example.

Quality education is another SDG 4. In these small communities around the United States that we’re focused on, which are called opportunity zones, we can focus on improving the skillset of that population to align with the jobs of tomorrow instead of the jobs of yesterday. By case in point, our objective is to train no less than 25 times the number of staff we hire in any one location. The path that we’ve taken is to take this growth of humanity and data and shrink the gap between them, which has historically been getting bigger and bigger. That’s a powerful basic idea, and it’s one that we think the entire industry of data centers will adopt.

How do you see AI coming into this world in particular? I know it’s of the moment to be thinking about the implications that artificial intelligence is bringing into our world, specifically as it relates to technologies and even the green solutions that we’re working to create. How do you see that changing or supporting what we’re doing now in the next few years?

I tend to use this catchphrase that 2022 was the last year that humanity existed in isolation. AI is forever going to be part of the fabric of humanity here forward. The implications on that are massive in terms of productivity gains or even how we solve problems, not just the problem solving itself. Again, the computation required for AI is incredible. The environmental impact of AI is incredible. That water consumption alone, if you have any short conversation with one of these AI platforms, you’re more or less dumping out half a liter of water every time you do. Trying to come up with solutions that reduce the dependency on water consumption for data centers is important.

2022 was the last year humanity existed in isolation. Artificial intelligence will forever be part of the fabric of humanity. Click To Tweet

People have a hard time understanding why data centers consume water if they don’t understand the heat exchange issues. Can you briefly describe why this is important and then I might draw another example to help people visualize this as well?

Computers generate a lot of heat, and as computers get more and more dense, they’re generating a higher density of heat as well. Typically, that cooling is done with air or these things called a chiller, which takes hot air and uses water to evaporate cold air system that then goes back into the front of the computer, and hot air comes out the back. That process is extremely inefficient. You’re only able to recycle about 30% of that water. The majority of that evaporative process goes back into the atmosphere.

The city of Phoenix is a great example. It is putting a moratorium on residential housing in the future because they don’t have enough water. There are tons of chip fabrication plants, data centers, and everything that’s down in Arizona and we’re now competing for resources. Are we going to drink it or use it for compute power? That’s a place we don’t need to be. There are other solutions that we can use and employ behind the curtain of the data center industry to make improvements there.

My husband and I, back in 2010, flew to Australia and New Zealand for a whirlwind vacation. He worked at that time with a company that utilized WETA facilities, which did all of the computer graphics and animation processing for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We had an invitation to visit their data centers and see them in action. It was one of those that had been created to be entirely naturally water cold with a looping system. It was built on this floating space so that if there was ever a flooding issue like something cracked, it would go underneath the computing system as opposed to damaging it.

As I’ve heard about all this, I never really knew that we would use water and cooling. I make that into a microcosm in my own home. My husband Is a computer engineer. He operates a server out of our home. We’ve placed that server in a closet that has extra vents in it that is bolted literally to the cement foundation of our lowest level because it’s the coolest here. It has fans running and things like that, but we’re talking about something that could run a small company like throwing 5 or 10 computers at it, and you’re good.

That consumes nowhere near the energy of what you’re talking about. It creates nowhere near the heat of what you’re talking about with one of these data centers. For the audience who may not be as familiar and need to understand, imagine the supercomputers of the early days when a single 386 computer would probably replace that first computer. These are large centers. There are a lot of computing devices happening at once storing data, and you need to find a way to cool that efficiently.

An average data center would use millions of gallons of water per day to have the unit economics be understood. We’re talking about a huge volume of water. One of the environmental concerns for sure is water. The same thing with electricity. Same problem but a different way of looking at it. When you have a power station, they’re generally not near population centers.

They use the wires that you see in your neighborhood. They’re called transmission and distribution lines. The amount of electricity you lose is dependent on how far away you are from those generation facilities. You’re now taking this other environmental issue or fossil fuel to generate power, and now you’re throwing at least half of it away before it gets to a base load facility like a data center.

When you think the water in the data center is bad but now you have all the water at the power generation which has the same cooling concepts, it’s the same system. You’re losing water at two major steps to generate the data so that you can use TikTok on your phone. Water is definitely a massive issue for data centers. As it becomes a more scarce resource for humanity, we need to think differently about how to do cooling for massive power consumption things like data centers.

When you’re talking about building these data centers where they’re needed, it sounds to me like you’re talking about building smaller data centers, not necessarily massive buildings. Is that accurate?

That’s right. A unit of measure now is about 300 megawatts. It is a large data center. Decades ago, that would have been 5 megawatts that was a large data center. Now, it’s 300. We think that the opportunity to address sustainability and social impact is edge computing, which are smaller facilities that can go closer to where the source of the data is. If you think about it, data is generated from somewhere, and it’s consumed from somewhere. The shorter you can make that distance, the more efficient you can be across all of these concepts.

By making facilities smaller, we can put them closer to the 5G tower, for example. You get faster speeds, or they’re closer to a smart city that doesn’t want their data to leave their local area. All of our facilities are smaller in size. They’re modular, so you can hold 10 racks worth of servers, and you can make another one that holds 100 racks worth of servers. We’re not designing any of these to be the size of football fields.

Good to know. I grew up essentially in Silicon Valley, and I’ve even been a part of protests in the heart of it, Palo Alto. We’re seeking to hold the city more accountable for the carbon footprints that they’ll even allow with building codes and things like that. In many cases, those living in Palo Alto are still encountering quite a bit of resistance along the way in the interest of business because even this uber-liberal space is very business-friendly in many ways.

While building greener solutions might be desirable, the powers that be often bend towards those interests of business and not necessarily the will of the people. People might want convenience but not understand the cost at which that convenience comes. When do you think the market will care enough about sustainable solutions and catch up with the will of the people to live greener and more sustainably?

That moment is right now, to be honest. That’s the key unlock that we discovered. This is why we created Redivider. We started in 2021 s when everyone started working from home. If you think of how it was pre-pandemic, you had a very large office building with a huge internet connection to a very large data center that made that connection very simple in concept. As soon as everyone started working from home, this decentralized nature of work that is here to stay changed the fabric of how we use data and move data around.

The environmental footprint of that also changes significantly. Some for better, some for worse. That was also the moment where it’s like, “This is the moment for edge computing to deliver on its promise.” The adoption of higher sustainability practices is companies generally care less about that than they do profits. The way that we’re tackling this problem is to say, “You already have whatever X computing resources that you need, and because of AI, IoT, smart cities, and all this adoption of technology, you have these massive growth plans as a company.” It doesn’t matter which company it is, they all have massive growth plans.

You can either spend the same dollars doing it the old way or you could spend it doing it our way, which automatically gives you higher sustainability, social impact, and alignment to these UN sustainability development goals, which are at the board level. The board is caring about moving that down the road and the IT department is more concerned about their requirements. We think now is the time that effectively both of those groups inside of an organization can win together.

CMBB 154 | Data Centers
Data Centers: The business board is caring about moving down the road of sustainability and the IT department is more concerned about their requirements. Now is a time that both of those groups can win together.

It sounds like the demand for data in this decentralized way is creating a strain. I’m going to point to something that has happened here often over the course of the last couple of years. I’m in Scotts Valley in Santa Cruz County, which is a bedroom community of commuters who work in Silicon Valley. We’ve had a massive movement towards people, especially those who work in tech. Everyone wants to drive a Tesla.

PG&E has made statements, which are now buried. You can’t even find them if you try. They’ve made statements like, “You can have air conditioning or electric cars but not both.” We have had rolling blackouts that are not announced. It’s suddenly, “The grid is down and you might get power back the next day or in five hours,” which is incredibly disruptive to people who work from home and are now relying on those connections to be able to do their jobs. I have a generator. I’ve run it more often than I like. I have solar but I’m not off the grid because I was advised when I installed it to feed it back to PG&E up the line. When PG&E is down, that doesn’t happen either.

Now I have to, as this dark green individual who does not like this fact at all, crank my generator, which runs on natural gas to be able to work in function. I had to do this for as long as five days when we had a massive power outage due to the wildfires that were coming through when we had high winds. Imagine that these sorts of things or infrastructure challenges also impact data centers. I wonder what your thoughts are about what challenges could erupt that we haven’t seen yet. If you were to be predictive, how can we change these infrastructure challenges into opportunities that we can solve in the near future?

Your story is very analogous at a personal level to what’s happening at an industrial scale. We think that the solution to that is to disregard the grid. That’s a big statement to say we need to come up with new solutions to the grid. It’s going to be a very transition period to do that or think of the grid as a backup. We call it Prime Onsite Power. You use a microgrid island for things like a data center that are considered a base load power customer.

Anything that’s a base load that’s running 24/7 should be responsible for its own primary power. That’s what we’re focusing on next. Having built out the supply chain for prefabricating data centers, we’re now embarking on doing the same exact thing for prime onsite power. That does 2 or 3 things. It does not put a strain on the grid now because that should go to houses. It also ensures very high-quality uptime, and it also allows us to do the same sustainability initiatives on the data center but do them for power generation.

CMBB 154 | Data Centers
Data Centers: Prime onsite power does not put a strain on the grid today. That should go to houses. It also ensures high-quality uptime and allows us to do the same sustainability initiatives on the data center but do them for power generation.

Another question I have for you, and you may not have an answer for this. It’s just a curious thought I had as I was preparing for this interview. As I was reading Paul Hawken’s Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, I stumbled on this whole concept of heat pumps and how it’s a more efficient means to both heat and cool your home. I wondered if that technology had been applied to data centers and if it’s similar because we’re wanting to recycle, reuse, and not lose water. Is there a solution that potentially can draw from that technology?

It was funny you mentioned a Tesla. I drive a Polestar because it’s the most sustainably produced car ever made. It has a heat pump that has very high efficiency and it’s got carbon tracking throughout every aspect of the vehicle.

I had a Chevy Bolt for a while.

You should look into the Polestar. It’s a totally different mindset about how to build a car. The idea of heat pumps exists in the data center space, and there is a huge desire for this stuff. That desire falls second to meeting the demand of five times data growth volume needs and delivering on the speed promises of 5G, the fact that we need four times more power in the next years for data centers alone. That doesn’t even include AI and IoT. That’s not factored into those numbers. My prediction, unfortunately, within the next few years, America is going to start turning coal plants back on to meet the demand of data growth.

CMBB 154 | Data Centers
Data Centers: Within the next ten years, America is going to start turning coal plants back on to meet the demand for data growth.

That is horrible but that’s the reality of what society is choosing. We’re choosing TikTok over Mother Earth at a very primitive idea. The idea of heat pumps and all these desires are there but they haven’t been put into action because it’s faster and cheaper to go another way. That’s where we think edge computing and starting with that blank sheet of paper to do it sustainably from the start, costs are identical, but this one aligns with your corporate desires of SDG alignment. The traditional way doesn’t.

We can do prime onsite power or we can use the grid. There are a lot of great things with natural gas that are not yet on the market. The hydrogen economy is here as well. For things that are base load customers like concrete, glass, or data centers, the idea of the hydrogen economy will be fundamentally different from how we build the future.

There’s obviously a lot of opportunity here for growth in the right direction. I’ve also wondered when we’re going to turn off those coal power plants. I was pitched on for this show to cover the topic of nuclear power. I’m still waffling on whether or not I want to open that can of worms because it feels like a lot to get smart on. I’ve heard people in the eco-friendly space say that nuclear power can be greener power, but solutions need to come from other angles as well. The problem I see is as we rely more on data storage and also on energy storage. Earth minerals are going to become increasingly hard. I read that Norway found one of the largest stores of magnesium underground, which can be used to create energy storage capacity.

It’s quite possible that that will be worth trillions upon trillions of dollars as technologies continue to go forward. It’s like they’ve discovered oil again in Norway. In my mind, in one way, we’re robbing one resource to pay for another. I’m not sure where that story will land us long-term, but it feels like we need regenerative solutions that aren’t going to degrade our environment somewhere. We don’t have to dig into the sea floor to get to them because we don’t know what the impact on ecosystems will be in that case. There are even some that are saying, “We think we can make more noise underwater than we presently are,” but then advocates of marine life are saying that damages the sonar frequencies that these whales rely on to navigate and send them beaching onshore.

That’s exactly it. There are so many ways in which a single choice has repercussions that we don’t necessarily always go through the work of ferreting out before we make a decision and plot a course. There’s no easy solution in the near term on this stuff, but I hope that we work harder as a people to think about what the long-term is going to be in each of these cases. If we choose a course, what does it mean? If we choose to leave the TikTok world, what does it mean? What does it mean to our shared connection, for data centers, and for storage? I don’t know. I like the platform too.

These are really big issues to talk about and they’re very important. There’s not a universal solution here. I will say, in the domain that I operate for the baseload power customer of a data center, the solutioning gets pretty simple. It’s to focus on sustainability. It’s not going to be solar. Forget the time of day thing and all the things that go along with that for batteries and whatever. The land clearing required to have a solar installation for a data center is dozens of acres of land per one megawatt of recurring power.

You can’t do it with a Tesla tile roof.

It doesn’t cut it. Solar is great for a house.

It’s a great solution for your residents.

It’s not the silver bullet. You could put solar on every single house in America, and it’s still not going to solve the core issue of power. We’ll still rely on coal. If you look at renewables, it takes the entire power consumption of the world as a pie chart. Over twenty years, it’s $500 trillion of investment. It’s only gone to 2% or 3% is renewable. We still rely on fossil fuels for a lot of things. The base load power portion of that for data centers is also about 3% of total power consumption.

You could put solar panels on every single house in America and it will still not solve the core issue of power. We will still rely on coal. Click To Tweet

We need solutions that aren’t solar. The wind is not a viable option because it’s very proximity-based. The lifespan of these turbines is half what they thought it was. The CapEx on wind turbines is too high. That’s not a viable option. We think that it either needs to be a massively refined process for natural gas to make the fossil fuels that we’re going to consume anyway, make them have less of an impact, or we need to focus on hydrogen. We think those are the two real big opportunities to do this in a new way that moves the needle.

You’re transferring the problem but even more so, it’s now a geopolitical risk because the majority of these resources we’re digging out of the ground are not in the United States. You take this macro trend of de-globalization and depopulation and you overlay that with the fact that countries who have these resources are going to start going, “If the world needs these so bad, maybe I’ll keep them for myself so everyone else can have the depopulation problem.” That is going to be a moment of reckoning for every country in the world. Hydrogen is the one thing that universally could address this problem. It’s a new economy to build.

It’s a newer technology. There are even hydrogen-powered cars. BMW has been doing quite a bit with them. The emissions are water. That sounds pretty darn good to a lot of people.

The hydrogen problem is it costs more to make hydrogen than it does to make the electricity that would’ve been the consumer. There’s still some evolution that needs to occur to have that be viable when you’re talking about four X-ing the power consumption of data centers alone.

The other interesting technology that I learned about years ago was when I was sitting next to somebody on an upgraded business-class flight. This was a gentleman who was spearheading technology to harness the power of ocean waves by having these balls on the ocean that would go up and down with the waves and it would create energy within them. I was like, “How does that get networked, get to the shore, and not impact marine life?” He’s like, “It becomes a living reef.” It sounded like great answer, but I’ve never seen the technology take off or go beyond that pilot phase.

If we’re able to reinvent something like wind energy, I’ve seen those that are low to the ground that take more of the trade winds in the tulip shaped and things along these lines, which can be placed even in city centers and things like that, might also help. It seems like it’s a lot of infrastructure to build and try to connect. Others are using the natural heating and cooling principles to go ahead and store and release energy. We’ll see where these end up.

Geothermal is one I’m very excited about but that’s measured in decades, not days. If you think of the Earth as a battery and outer space as a cooling system, there are some very novel technologies being developed at university right now where they’re using a very narrow spectrum that can essentially access the cold of space to be a heat sink. If you can solve some of the cooling problems, then you can reduce the power consumption as well. It’s going to be a concert of these technologies that come to fruition that allow us to make meaningful change.

The issue is, are we going to care? Is humanity going to care enough to make a change? The perspective of what we’re doing with Redivider is to say, “We’ll do all that alignment. We’ll bake it into our solutions.” You have these growth plans that are going to cost you X dollars whether you go left or right, but if you go left, you’re doing all this other great stuff. We think that that is a cheat code for big and small companies alike, and at least for the lane that we’re in, which is data. All the other things are still problems to solve for.

Big discussions. Geothermal plants, the only country that has that thoroughly dialed is Iceland. I happen to work with technology that’s co-located with one of the world’s largest geothermal plants on power in Reykjavik Iceland. We’re taking their waste stream CO2 to grow algae that we can then build into nutritional solutions and supplements. That’s what I do for my day job. You don’t have that situation everywhere around the globe. What are we going to do suddenly go to Yellowstone and put a geothermal plant there in the middle of what is this natural preserve? That would not be ideal.

You have to have that resource limited, and in some cases, you simply can’t build a power plant where you have access to that geothermal energy. I’ll stay tuned on what that technology is bringing out. I would love for you to be able to share with our audience what we can do to get businesses to change data center practices for good. I don’t think I can affect Google, but Google already claims to have green data centers as it stands. I think they’re doing that through carbon credits mostly. I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are there.

Specifically, about Google, I would say they are, by far, leading the market. They care and they’ve been at it a long time. They’ve done a lot of experiments that have failed, which is great in terms of progress-making things. You have fewer things to fail at. I would say that they have done a great job. As an industry, what can consumers do to help shift it? I’m not sure it’s necessarily a consumer solution that’s needed. It’s about the B2B solutions that are required. A really easy example is 5G.

All the consumers are spending to get faster speeds. You need a higher density of antenna to deliver at that speed. The idea of the telecom industry partnering more closely with the data center industry is what’s going to make that meaningful difference. That’s why we think the interim step right now is what’s called the CloudEdge. Take Google and Amazon, SAP, Salesforce, Microsoft, etc., they all have these clouds. By putting a smaller version of their cloud closer to customers that can also deliver on these 5G speeds and the data doesn’t move around as much, you can effectively lower that carbon footprint. You change the water consumption of data on a unit basis.

Ultimately, the higher adoption of 5G by customers would impact the relationship between Telco and data centers that could deliver that result. You nailed the number one thing that I was going to suggest for consumers, which is shared links, not files. The rare Earth minerals required to make a hard drive at scale for all of the collective clouds is a huge number. A link means that the file exists in one place. I’d say that’s the number one on the consumer basis. To solve this problem, the core relationship that needs to be addressed is the Telco data center.

At this point in our conversation, Tom, I’d like to ask you what parting thoughts you would like to leave our audience with, or if there was a question I haven’t asked that perhaps you wish I had, you could ask and answer it.

The only other major thing, at least relevant to what we’re doing, is the idea of the construction workforce and its impact on communities. Traditionally, when data centers get built, they use large national contractors who come into a community, work for two years, and then leave. The economic impact that has is long-term low because they’re not hiring locally. They’re not doing all this stuff locally. It’s all done nationally. Now we’re seeing this massive atrophy in the construction workforce.

Since COVID happened, you’re not getting new journeymen to come in for electrical and new tradesmen coming in for building. That’s going to push out all of these construction projects for data centers from 2 to 3, 4, and 5 years while, at the same time, the demand for data continues. The impact of that, what that’s going to mean, and I alluded to this before, we’re going to see dirty technologies turn on again that haven’t been used. We’re going to see an increase in the coal usage for humanity to use Facebook.

CMBB 154 | Data Centers
Data Centers: We will see dirty technologies turn on again that haven’t been used. There will be an increase in coal usage for humanity to use Facebook.

That’s directly correlated to this atrophy in trade workers that are building things. There are two solutions to that. 1) Prefabricating them, which is the path that we’re on. 2) America needs to get together and collectively decide that having a trade job is awesome. We need to figure out ways to compensate people for that and reinvigorate that entire industry. I do think we will see a net negative environmental impact.

I will direct people back to my interview with Paul Hawken from years ago, where we talked about the retraining of people who are in specific trades to be more on the green technology side because it’s what we’ll need. You’re speaking about exactly the same thing. I’m impressed with what you’re doing with Redivider and we should stay connected because, as your business unfolds and develops, I would like to connect with you again. You’re doing important work, even if to the layperson, it might sound a little background and perhaps boring. These are resources we all use every day. You can’t get away from your cell phone at this point in time.

It’s only getting bigger. I’ve got all these statistics I can share with you and where I’m pulling these numbers from, but the big asterisk is all of those stats are pre-AI and pre-IoT. When you factor in the largest trend we’ve ever seen in computing since the 1960s, everything I’ve shared with you is massively sandbagged. I don’t think it’s going to public state growth.

This is the next frontier. That’s where we really are. It’s the beginning of things. I will also point people to read to the episode I did with Mo Gawdat, who was a Chief Business Officer for Google X for many years. He wrote a book called Scary Smart. It’s all about AI. I re-released that episode to make it easier to find, along with an intro commentary on AI and where we’re headed. It’s doubly important now that we teach AI. We can be quite nice and it’s not all bad when you go to the likes of Twitter, see the trolls, and everything else. We can be quite kind and impact-driven individuals who care about the greater good. We should begin training AI more about what is great about humanity.

It’s funny you say that. I’ll give a last little side story. When all this ChatGPT stuff came out in the late 2022, I wanted to test it for real. Not like a playground, but really test it. I looked at all the educational material for children in different languages. What I found was if you think about a language like Ukrainian, Spanish, Irish, or all of these other languages that exist, the educational material for kids is less than 1% of what’s available in English. I built a whole system to design kid’s books that is a well-thought-out educational framework but delivers them in different languages in a way that the language is meant to be used.

In my little test in December 2022, I published 90 books or something, which is a huge number to think about it. AI made that pretty simple, but the feedback on that has been incredible. AI has the potential to help humanity do things that have never been done before in terms of how we live our daily lives and learn things. It’s a double-edged sword because it can do bad things too.

Artificial intelligence has the potential to help humanity do things that have never been done before. However, it is a double-edged sword because it can also do bad things. Click To Tweet

It’s showing the best of ourselves. Mo Gawdat made the point. He’s like, “If you spend all your time on Instagram paying attention to hot body challenges and not when people are communicating with authenticity. If all you’re doing is looking at filtered faces and not real faces, then you’re teaching AI that particular trend too.” Even our simple actions that we may think of as mindless, it’s learning, and that’s the nature of AI.

When we get to the singularity point where it is far surpassed the mental power of humanity, it’s not crazy distant. It’s going to happen in my lifetime, yours, and probably almost everyone tuning in. We need to be ready for that. We need to think about the far future when it comes to solutions and technology too, which I’m happy to see you’re doing. I want to thank you for your time.

It’s great to be here. This stuff is near and dear to my heart. As I said, I want to leave the planet for my kids to be a part of. At the rate we’re going, we’re sucking all the life force out of the planet. It’s our responsibility. It’s Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. We all have an obligation and opportunity to do the right thing and do it in a way that is positive for people, the planet, and then ultimately generate higher profits.

I’ll raise my cup of coffee to that. Sustainably harvested, my friend, Sprout and Blossom coffee. It’s low mold and good. It’s delicious. Whatever you’re drinking, whether it be water or a glass of wine, cheers to you, Tom. It’s really great to have you here.

Thank you. I appreciate it. It’s great to be here.

To learn more about Tom Frazeir and his work with Redivider, visit www.Redivider.co. If you liked this episode, please subscribe and set that bell to notify you when new episodes drop. Please also leave us a review and tell us what you thought of this episode. This simple act will help more people discover this content. Thank you now and always for being a part of this show and this community. Together, we can do so much more. We can care more, we can be better, we can even create that greener, better, easier future with responsible data edge computing. For all the necessary evil that they may be, they are also an incredible tool and asset to connect us and build a little bit of ease into our daily life while also entertaining us. Thank you.

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  • Tom Frazier

    Tom Frazier, the co-founder and CEO of Redivider, boasts an impressive 25-year career, driving transformational and disruptive architectural initiatives in future tech, B2B, and public sectors. As a serial entrepreneur, Tom founded Redivider based on his extensive knowledge of data centers and a passion for revolutionizing the industry. Committed to prioritizing people, planet, and profits, Tom is devoted to spearheading innovation in the digital economy. Having served as a cloud and security strategic director for a Fortune 10 company, Tom has been instrumental in securing some of the world's largest digital footprints.

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