UPDATED 08:00 EST / JANUARY 24 2023

INFRA

Data center-as-a-service startup ECL exits stealth with $7M in seed funding

Edge Cloud Link Inc., a sustainable, off-grid data center-as-a-service startup, exited stealth mode today armed with $7 million in seed funding to deliver on the idea of 3D-printed data centers that use hydrogen as their primary power source.

Today’s round was led by Molex Ventures and saw participation from Hyperwise Ventures, and the funds will be used to construct ECL’s very first data center at its headquarters in Mountain View, California, with completion slated for the second quarter.

ECL is pioneering the idea of hydrogen-powered data centers that consume no local resources and operate with zero emissions at extremely low noise levels. In addition to being more affordable, highly sustainable and eco-friendly, ECL says, its modular data centers can be built much more quickly than traditional designs. With no need to connect to utilities, it says the average planning and construction cycle can be reduced from 18 to 24 months, to as little as six to nine months.

One of the key innovations of ECL’s data centers is that they’re entirely powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Its facilities are said to leverage each step of hydrogen-driven power creation and consumption to drive every required process, including rack cooling, in a circular system that maximizes efficiency while keeping waste to an absolute minimum. The company claims to have created an advanced cooling system that creates its own water from the hydrogen power generation process, eliminating the need for traditional coolers and an external water source.

That’s combined with ECL’s proprietary rear door heat exchange system to lower its data centers’ Power Usage Effectiveness ratio compared to traditional designs. ECL claims its data centers will achieve a PUE of just 1.05 versus the colocation data center industry average of 1.57. At the same time, the company says, it can also achieve higher rack densities than traditional data centers, significantly reducing the cost of space and power for its customers.

Another advantage of ECL’s data centers is that they can be built using 3D construction printers in double-quick time, creating a building that’s able house a 1-megawatt data center within just 24 hours. The 3D-printed construction process is also said to be cheaper, and allows for a high degree of customization so that each ECL customer gets exactly the kind of data center facility they’re looking for.

Meanwhile, the fact ECL data centers don’t require an energy source means they can be built in almost any location, including sites without network access. In cases where no network is available, ECL’s networking partners will be contracted to provide a fiber backbone and cloud interconnection that’s available through a network-as-a-service model. It means that customer’s data center locations are no longer restricted to areas with network and power grid availability, ECL said.

ECL offers three different models for customers, including a build-and-hand-off option where the data center is built to the client’s specifications, before being handed over to the customer in return for a onetime fee. The build-and-operate model, meanwhile, sees ECL operate and manage the data center on the customer’s behalf, in return for a onetime nonrecurring payment and monthly subscription fee.

Finally, ECL offers an operators joint venture, where it builds its data centers in collaboration with colocation operators before handing off the facility to the operator in return for a onetime lump-sum payment and share of the monthly recurring revenue it generates.

ECL founder and Chief Executive Yuval Bachar told SiliconANGLE that the company is willing to build data centers for large enterprises that require their own on-premises facilities, and also for cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon Web Services Inc. and Google LLC.

“While the primary target market at launch is midsized data center operators, typically large companies with a mix of cloud and on-premises IT environments, ECL is also in talks with hyperscalers who need a bespoke data center presence in areas where they do not currently have one and where traditional colocation is either unavailable, overpriced or otherwise complicated,” Bachar said. “If a company requires a data center in a location where no power grid is available, or if they need it faster than traditional providers allow, ECL provides the perfect solution.”

Bachar said he believes his company’s innovations will rapidly set a new bar for flexibility and sustainability in the data center industry. He’s well qualified to make such claims, having previously held engineering, infrastructure and architecture roles at Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co., Cisco Systems Inc. and Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc., among others.

He’s also one of the founders of the Open19 Foundation that created an open hardware platform for data center and edge hardware innovation. In addition, he holds eight U.S. patents relating to data center, networking and system designs.

“Never before has hydrogen been harnessed for use as the primary power source for the data center and that, combined with the unmatched efficiency of our cooling system and our emissions-free operations, is unique in the world today,” Bachar said.

Image: ECL

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