Interview with Ali from BitNet


Our Project Manager Mohan Gandhi talks with Ali Serdar from BitNet about the role of BitNet in the ECO-Qube project, what made them participate in the project, and what positive effects ECO-Qube will have on the industry.

You can watch the whole interview here, or you can read the transcript below.

Transcript of the interview

Mo 0:00

Good morning. So in this fourth interview of the ECO-Qube series, I'm interviewing Ali Serdar. Ali works at BitNet. Ali, I wonder if you would like to say hi and maybe talk about yourself and your role at BitNet.

Ali Serdar 0:18

Hi. Good morning. Yeah, I work for BitNet. BitNet is a high technology SME and has cloud data centers with mainly high performance computing workloads, serving customers in different industries like defense, construction, education, and health in Turkey. We have around 120 kilowatts of capacity in our data centers. They’re SME data centers and our customers test their loads, their research, and innovations with our high speed GPU and CPU servers. And once it's validated, they'll go ahead and deploy those in their on premise solutions. So we help them with our high performance computing structure. And with Kubernetes,  Docker, and sometimes singularity loads. We enable their RFPs and their requirements, so we work with them to achieve their goals. ECO-Qube is an excellent project that's aligned with our goals, because it's working on optimizing data centers, the workload, and also the cooling. This is one aspect that we have not been looking at and we have not been analyzing so far. We have been much looking into latency and the performance issues from the computation, but we have not been involved that much in the energy efficiency and efficiency of the data center itself and thanks to ECO-Qube, this gives us an opportunity to look into that aspect. And the first rounds so far showed us that we have not been using our data center from this aspect properly. And now we are working with ECO-Qube to optimize this aspect as well.

Mo 2:34

Perfect, perfect. So BitNet is quite a top level data center company in Turkey. And you work like you said with clients from all across different industries. And can I ask, what is your role in the ECO-Qube project?

Ali Serdar 2:51

Well, we are an SME data center and BitNet is one of the three pilots in this region in Istanbul, in this Mediterranean climate zone. Another true role of BitNet is, we have our own Kubernetes singularity solution, utilizing the low level hardware. And we'll be using this solution integrating with the orchestrator, that's provided by Helio. So we will be working with that handiness to add this software ready for the solution.

Mo 3:32

Awesome. So as a pilot data center, but also working really hands on with the orchestration layer. What attracted you to the ECO-Qube project?

Ali Serdar 3:43

Well, as I said before, we were very busy looking into the performance problems from the computation and delivering the loads. We had not been looking so much into the energy efficiency, which is very important, and the cooling aspects. This project will allow us to optimize our load and also to the loads of our customers, because we have a reach to many customers that have very large data centers on their own. And we also noticed that it's not their primary concern, and this project will be experimental and pioneering in this regard to tap into their solutions, so that we can show them, and prove that this solution will enable them to have a great impact on energy efficiency. Therefore it is going to have a huge climate impact as well as on their bottom line, which is the energy efficiency cost to their solution. We noticed that some of the aisles are being used, but only a few loads are running. But yet, they are cooling these aisles, so they're spending a lot of energy. And this is not the focus point so far. This will allow us to first prove it in our data center with their loads. Then we will show them these results and I'm sure they're going to deploy this in their data center when it's already been proven.

Mo 5:20

Yeah, and this is what's quite interesting, right? Because it's not really been done before that people focus and attach the cooling and the energy efficiency, they're very much separate from the business performance and availability, and what we're actually doing is creating a system that taps into everything to create a smart data center. What do you see as the revolutionary effect of ECO-Qube after the project? Where do you see this going? How could it change the industry?

Ali Serdar 5:49

I think, number one is awareness. We will create huge awareness in the different segments, as we tap into health, defense, and as you indicated, they're not even noticing, it's not in their RFPs. One thing we hope is  going to happen, is that it will be part of their request. And that will help to achieve the climate goals that can lower the greenhouse gas emissions. So I think it's going to be excellent. Turkey is becoming part of the Paris action, they are just signing the agreement. So I think this will be very important for them. And we will be the first company that's working towards it from the data center sector. And I think it will be great for the ECO-Qube project, as well as for BitNet to become the enabler of it.

Mo 6:47

We're a year into the project of a three year project, what have been the main challenges, and how have we overcome them?

Ali Serdar 6:53

From our end, the biggest challenge was the way that our data center has been used. Because we have different customer loads, and some of the customers are very sensitive to their data. So we have to take care of the sensitivity, we have to be at the top there to make sure that the needed privacy and anonymity is taken care of, this is number one priority. The other one is that our data center is a POC data center. And when me look at the whole SME data centers, not large data centers, because we are representing a pilot of a SME data center, there are a lot of changes in the data center, because we are an SME and we serve to those customers, the change is constant .Every day we had different kinds of servers coming in and out and we are adapting to do RFPs. So one thing that has not been taken care of initially is that the architecture was not ready for that change. But now, with other partners, like DSTECH we had an option, we also aligned the architecture of the ECO-Qube project to take care of this change. So now the software that we are developing is going to be aligned with it and will be flexible.

Mo 8:25

Right, so the main challenge was the architecture?

Ali Serdar 8:31

I think the main challenge did not encounter the daily needs properly at the beginning, but now we have exactly shown the day-to-day usage of a SME data center like ours. Now we have the chance to change the RFP a little bit and the software has been written and is being tested right now. All the data is being collected using that requirement. So I think that was the main challenge and we took care of it.

Mo 9:11

Maybe this is a bit of a weighted question, do you see certain challenges coming up in the next couple months?

Ali Serdar 9:21

This challenge I just mentioned has already been taken care of but there are different partners joining in. So I think they will have their own needs, because the usage may be different based on where the data center is coming in. We may have to adapt our architecture. But since we are developing a scalable and service base, which uses Kubernetes, I think we should be able to adapt to it very fast, and we don't have to rewrite the software. All we have to do is to do some tweaks with Kubernetes and we will write different configuration rules. Now I think that should be taken care of easily. I think the other one is I think we have gone through many iterations in the data model that we had developed. And we had been involved in the interviews of the new data center. I think it's perfectly aligned with the requirement also as we already went through so many iterations with the data map itself of the data center.

Mo 10:29

And like you said previously, one of the biggest impacts of the ECO-Qube project will be the awareness element. I wonder if this actually paves the way for people to adopt certain things. So you talked about the data map, is the data map almost up and ready for other small SME companies to adopt and use themselves?

Ali Serdar 10:55

I believe yes, if we can come up with a nice model, like ontology, that semantically shows how SME data center models and data can be collected. And if you can come up with the right API's, I think we already did to some extent. And if we can present it in a formalized way, like in the papers in different areas, I think it can be. But one thing for sure that needs to be done, in Turkey, for example, the RFPs are kept being reused all the time. So for example, for defense, there is only one data center RFP, that's coming up from the Turkish Ministry. I think it's similar to other countries, they also keep using the same RFPs. In order to become that RFP, we need to be part of some kind of standard. We can do a study for the standards for data centers, and if we can have this deployed as the working group of those standards makers, then I think we can have a great chance.

Mo 12:18

Interesting, so the demand there would be coming from the ministries or the people who create the RFPs.

Ali Serdar 12:27

That’s push, but we also need to pull. So of course the data center managers who are working on this, are aware and they will be looking for it. So it has to be more push and pull. It cannot be just one way.

Mo 12:46

Excellent. So I'd like to give you the last word, Ali. Is there anything else you'd like to say about the ECO-Qube project?

Ali Serdar 12:53

Yes, I think this is an excellent project because, so far, this problem of data centers has not been addressed and worked on a lot. But the structure of data centers, hardware and software are changing. When you look back a couple years, there were only CPUs. Now, if you look at the new architectures, mostly its GPUs, that consumes the power and there are different GPUs like active and passive ones. I think now with ECO-Qube and with our model, we will be able to look into this not only from the side of computation and the delivery of the results. We will be looking at all parameters and we'll be making effective decisions that impact the bottom line as well as the top line of the stakeholders.

Mo 14:01

Perfect. Thank you, Ali. Thank you for joining us today. That's all we have time for, a lovely 15 minute interview with Ali Serdar from BitNet, one of the pilot data centers on the ECO-Qube project. Thank you.

Ali Serdar 14:14

Thanks so much. 

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