Data centres are now a hugely important part of the modern economy, providing the infrastructure for countless businesses all over the world.
However, the need for businesses and individuals to be connected 24/7 means that data centres are also a huge drain on our energy resources.
Fortunately, many data centre operators are now realising that this level of energy consumption cannot continue to rise indefinitely and are taking steps to make their facilities more environmentally friendly. Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is one of the most prominent methods employed, as it takes a holistic view of the data centre, enabling operators to manage energy usage and improve efficiencies from one central interface.
Another way that data centres are becoming greener is by using natural air cooling instead of high-energy mechanical units. Many servers are now being manufactured that can operate at temperatures as high as 27°C, so natural air cooling has become a more viable option. Taking this a step further, Google’s data centre in Hamina, Finland uses the surrounding sea water to power its cooling system.
Similarly, many lager technology firms like Google, Microsoft and Apple have built or supported renewable energy efforts so that their data centres can be powered by wind or solar energy, greatly reducing their carbon footprint.
The growth of cloud computing and Big Data means that our reliance on data centres is only going to increase, along with the energy required to power them.
Although advances in superconductor technology do offer the potential of much greater data centre efficiencies in the future, in the meantime operators have a responsibility to make their data centres as environmentally friendly as possible.