Digital infrastructure is the foundation for an equitable and inclusive world, where every person on the planet participates in the digital economy. But our digital future won’t be better unless it’s also sustainable.
Cato Digital is on a mission to build the most sustainable bare metal cloud in the world. We are doing that by offering low cost, carbon free compute in all the right places. We believe in a circular world where waste streams become supply chains, unused capacity is unlocked for use and compute systems are powered by clean energy. Our premise is simple. Use what we have before we build more.
Cato Digital was originally formed in 2013 as Virtual Power Systems (VPS) by Founder and CEO, Shankar Ramamurthy. His vision was to virtualize the power plane in data centers unlocking stranded capacity to increase utilization and efficiency. He applied the concepts of software-defined to power infrastructure enabling virtual pools of power to be utilized like virtual machines in hardware, virtual pools in storage and virtual circuits in networks. His original thesis is at the heart of the Cato Digital architecture today.
In 2020, long time digital infrastructure industry veteran, Dean Nelson stepped in as CEO and redirected the company to focus on the colo market. He aligned the team on developing a scalable platform that would enable the VPS vision to become a reality. During the pandemic the team created the ADI platform (Autonomous Digital Infrastructure). ADI enabled the principles of software defined power for real time orchestration of different SLAs for compute in data centers. The team then created the M9 software product on the ADI platform. M9 enabled collocation data center companies to offer multiple SLA products to tenants mirroring cloud-like flexibility on-prem. Colos were able to safely oversubscribe capacity by having M9 manage power contention issues by shedding lower-9 rack loads through Intelligent Power Switches (IPX). IPX’s could be deployed at the RPP, busway can, in-line with rack whip, in-rack switched PDUs or the server level BMC controller. The market opportunity for VPS was clearly articulated in the article, defining the digital infrastructure industry. There is over 37GW of stranded power in data centers globally. This represented over $220B in investment capital that is not yielding the returns they could. What also emerged is that while the digital infrastructure has delivered significant efficiency gains in MEP and compute infrastructure, it was not addressing the bigger problem. Half of the power capacity we build in data centers is never used. That is not economical or ecological.
In early 2022 Dean worked with the Infrastructure Masons Advisory Council to establish the iMasons Climate Accord unifying over 200 companies on reducing carbon in digital infrastructure materials, product and power.
This was a seminal moment for the company as it was clear that the M9 product could dramatically reduce carbon by increasing utilization in data centers. The concept was simple. We should fully use what we have built. The challenge was the industry had self-imposed barriers to the adoption of this concept. Legacy processes and business structures limit utilization in data center and compute infrastructure. This inefficiency continues to be perpetuated in new data center builds around the globe.
This observation prompted Dean to publish the article, Power Capacity Effectiveness, that called out the elephant in the room. It outlined the reasons we have low utilization of colo data centers. It also proposed a new metric, PCE, to drive change in the industry.
It was clear that virtualization of power in data centers is needed to achieve the next level in efficiency, but as outlined in the article it will take years for this concept to be embraced. With this realization, it was time to change tactics.
In 2022 Dean rebranded VPS to Cato Digital and pivoted the company to become a customer of their own software. Cato is leveraging the ADI platform to offer low cost, carbon free compute in all the right places.
By becoming a customer of our own software we drive two critical outcomes. First, accelerate the adoption of M9 software by showing production deployments at scale. Second, contribute to the iMasons Climate Accord by directly addressing scope 3 emissions. Cato Digital is deploying circular economy compute hardware leveraging wasted power capacity in data centers powered by clean energy. We believe this is the single biggest contribution we can make to address climate change.