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Alibaba data centres to use Shell coolant

Coolant Monitoring

The cloud computing arm of Chinese technology giant Alibaba Group has agreed a deal with Shell’s Chinese subsidiary to use Shell coolant fluids in its data centres.

The development follows a service outage at the end of last year, when a cooling failure at a partner-operated data centre brought down the Hong Kong zone of Alibaba Cloud, as well as various other services, for 24 hours. The incident was sufficiently serious to cause Jeff Zhang Jianfeng, the unit’s head, to step down, with Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang assuming direct control in his place.

While the current deal would not have prevented the outage at the centre in question, which was operated by PCCW, it suggests that Alibaba is looking to further secure its own centres. The company has been an early adopter of immersion cooling, which provides a more efficient way to cool IT hardware while also opening up options to recycle the waste heat. The deal with Shell will allow it to complement its in-house immersion cooling systems with Shell’s established expertise in developing coolant technology for areas like metalworking and electric vehicles.

The deal goes beyond just coolants, however, with it being presented as a long-term partnership by the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba Group. For its part, Alibaba Cloud will assist in the digitalisation efforts of Shell China, while Shell will contribute to the ongoing energy transformation of Alibaba. The companies will also explore the possibility of jointly offering sustainable solutions for digitalisation.

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