Nautilus: transforming the data center industry
Nautilus Data Technologies is a global pioneer in water-cooled data centers and is leading a global transformation to ultra-efficient, high-performance and environmentally sustainable operations in the data center sector.
James Connaughton is the CEO at Nautilus. Having joined the organisation in March 2016, he has overseen the implementation of the world’s first water-cooled and water-borne data center with Nautilus. “There are two essential features,” explains Connaughton. “The first and most important feature is cooling with naturally cold water, which is how all other major infrastructure sectors address the large amounts of heat generated by their systems. These include, for example, thermal power plants, ships, industrial processing facilities, and paper mills. Only data centers, generate heat at a similar industrial scale, still use massive and unsustainable air-cooling systems. The second feature is mobility–the ability to prefabricate the data center in large modules, and either assemble them onto a barge and deliver it fully ready to go, or transport the modules to a prepared site for rapid assembly. Placing essential infrastructure on barges—such as energy barges and water treatment barges–is a well-established model for enabling rapid and flexible access to such infrastructure in fast growing and emerging markets. The opportunity and need is equally strong today when it comes to providing access to digital infrastructure to those who currently lack it.”
Connaughton believes data centers are the newest and most important component of critical infrastructure that sustains and enriches the lives of people around the world. “Data centers now stand alongside power generation, drinking-water plants, waste-water plants, roads and other critical infrastructure that allows society to function and create good outcomes for people,” he explains. “Access to the water molecule and the electron has long been vitally important. Worldwide access to the photon for data delivery is the next essential piece.” Over the past two years, Connaughton has overseen the development of the company’s first full-scale commercial facility, which provides six megawatts of water-cooled data center capacity on a barge. He strives for an innovative approach across all his operations. “We’ve been on the arc of creative invention and cleverly practical engineering to make that a reality,” says Connaughton. “The first part of our company’s life has focused on building a functional prototype, and then using that experience to make the thousands of decisions of what not to do against the several hundred decisions of what to do in bringing a full scale facility into being. We’re really excited to be commissioning that data center in California in just a few weeks time.”
Nautilus is planning to develop facilities in North America, Europe and Asia, and has been contacted by potential partners to pursue projects in the Middle East, Africa, and South America. “Once our data center in North Carolina is up and running, we look forward to onboarding a great set of anchor customers,” says Connaughton. “We will show the world the ultra-efficiency, high-performance, and the strong sustainability of our approach. After that, we are ready to rapidly move into other locations to “productize” the technology and we look forward to partnering through joint ventures and technology licensing so that we can get this important technology out into the world as quickly as possible.”