“PUE has been a great driver for innovation” – Interview Niek van der Plas

Minkels is a knowledge-driven producer and worldwide supplier of high-quality solutions for data center infrastructure. It continuously maps the future needs of the industry to decide how to shape their innovations. Analyzing and understanding where the need comes from is important in order to develop future proof solutions. Niek van der Pas, Lead Data Center Expert at Minkels, shares his vision on innovation in the sector.

Van der Pas:“Recently we have developed a new fire distinguishment solution for data centers.The main issue was that
re containment in data centers complicated to comply to the rules regarding sprinklers. The sprinkler system didn’t cover
all areas of the data center. For this reason, rewalls would need to open up once the distinguishment system is activated. Depending on the circumstances, mechanical systems are not always desirable.Therefore, we designed a corridor cover made out of very light plastic. Once the temperature indicates a re break-out, the plastic will shrink and the fire distinguishment system can do its work.



Van der Pas is also involved in defining efficiency standards for data centers. In fact, he is one of the writers of the Dutch guidelines regarding this. “The PUE is a great way to drive innovation. Some critics say that the PUE is not adequate enough as it fails to measure the actual efficiency of data centers.To a certain extent this is true. However, the norm has provided us with many insights and it has been a great driver to innovate on energy efficiency. Therefore, I take this aw for granted. After all, without PUE there wouldn’t have been any insights on energy efficiency at all.

On behalf of Minkels, Van der Pas takes part in a committee for sustainable data centers.“Servers have become much more energy efficient. However, there’s so much more to be gained. Software architects should start thinking about employing processing power, as this could be done in a much more efficient way. Additionally, data center designs could be further optimized on scalability.We’ve seen data centers that are built to ensure low PUE. However, if the data center is not fully utilized, the PUE optimization doesn’t apply. This scenario can be prevented by building data centers modularly, and by analyzing the PUE on different occupancy rates.”




Minkels uses these insights when it’s designing new products. Scalability will become increasingly impor tant, according to Van der Pas.“The housing of equipment, corridors and so on can all be built modularly.This way, you never build more than you need. Furthermore: it will prevent you from making unnecessary costs, even though this depends on the investment cycle. Minkels regularly publishes white papers on this topic.”

Van der Pas has detected a few market developments that will affect the entire sector, even though it’s not yet clear in which way.“More often you see that certain needs of individual operators become more prominent or even become the standard. The distinguishment solution we developed exemplifies that.We do a lot of research to examine the industry needs, both on the short and the long term. Reversely, we also create solutions when we receive specific requests and assignments that are interesting for the data center industry.”

“IoT and edge computing are important influencers when it comes to developments within the data center sector. Hereby, we notice that different parties have different definitions of ‘edge’, For some, the threshold for edge is 1MW while for others, it may star t at 0.5MW. We also see the potential of open compute projects. In the end, innovation is and always will be about taking risks: things could turn out very different than expected. It could be that you launch products that don’t meet the exact needs of the customer. Due to the development times of new products, it’s inevitable to take risks like this.The only constant is change. Therefore, we need to keep moving”, says Van der Pas.


The interview with Niek van der Pas is part of the Innovation Day Report 2017. You can download the full Innovation Day report here:

Innovation Day Report 2017

Niek van der Pas

My name is Niek van der Pas. I am Lead Data Center Expert at Minkels. Feel free to contact me via niek.vanderpas@minkels.com.