While you may presume that reliance on data centres would be reduced with mass migrations to cloud, the reality is that data centres are still as important as ever. According to analyst firm Technavio, the global data centre market size is set to grow by USD284 billion by 2023. The firm attributes this growth to the rise in adoption of multi-cloud and network upgrades to support 5G.
The problem is that data centres are well-known resource hogs that require vast amounts of power to operate while emitting significant quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. As environmental awareness continues to expand and industries around the world strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to renewable energy, improvements have to be made to how data centres are built to be more eco-friendly.
Nevertheless, with recent advancements in technology, having a green data centre can be both less taxing on the environment and provide huge savings for businesses.
What are the technologies available to make a “green data centre” possible?
A green or sustainable data centre is one that utilises energy-efficient technologies and produces fewer pollutants. Among the newer, more efficient technologies that are available for enterprises today include:
Low-power, high-density servers – Servers that take up less power and less space can help you reduce the electricity consumption of your data centre tremendously. This, of course, helps dial down operating and cooling costs.
Modular data centres – This portable approach allows data centres to be placed near where the data capacity is required. Unlike legacy data centres, they can be deployed quickly and are more energy-efficient. The Huawei FusionModule Smart Modular Data Centre series, for instance, comes in the form of integrated modules that comprise of power, cooling, rack & structure, cabling and management, all in an integrated, scalable and flexible solution.
More efficient cooling methods – Cooling is always a crucial part of data centres, but one that takes up a large portion of power. There are now newer technologies that enable this important process to be done more efficiently and allow data centres to achieve lower operating temperatures, such as evaporating cooling, free air cooling systems or hot and cold air containment systems.
Smart management technologies – An essential feature for next-gen data centres is automation. Even the consumption of energy can be automated to optimise data centre power consumption and operations. The iManager NetEco is one example of an efficient Operation Support System (OSS) which supports real-time monitoring, active and historical alarm management, remote management, as well as performance and statistical analysis for site energy equipment.
Next-gen UPS – Li-ion batteries are more cost-effective than lead-acid batteries used in the Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) of traditional data centres. They also have a smaller physical footprint, significantly longer lifespan and come equipped with integrated electronic and intelligent digital technologies. Best of all, the cost of Li-ion batteries is expected to fall by up to 30% over the next three years.
These are just some examples of technologies that are available right now that can help you improve the energy efficiency of your data centre and its overall carbon footprint.
While implementing green systems and policies requires an initial investment, in the long run, there will be a significant decrease in operational costs. According to the study, “The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings”, which analysed the cost-benefit of 33 green building projects, a 2% increase in upfront costs typically results in 20% savings – a tenfold return. Networkworld.com cited that the financial benefits include “lower energy, waste disposal and water costs, lower environmental and emissions costs, lower operations and maintenance costs, and savings from improved employee productivity and health.”
Data centres are growing at an accelerated pace, but there is a physical limit to how much they can grow, both in terms of space as well as the resources that they require to operate. Therefore, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of future-proofing your data centre in terms of adopting green technologies and renewable energy.