The environmental impact of businesses is often in the news nowadays and very much in the public conscience. The IT industry is no exception, but being part of the cutting edge of technology places locations such as data centres in an ideal position to make the most of the very latest innovations, saving customers money and improving service levels along the way.
Being such high-energy users, data centres are a good place to look at the impact of cost and energy saving techniques that could be rolled over to other areas of the industry.
The BCS, the chartered institute for IT, has produced a white paper looking at the impact of data centres on the environment. The paper recommends that firms work towards a code of best practice. You can see that paper at http://www.bcs.org/content/conWebDoc/22351. In the meantime, there are some extremely innovative practices emerging already that significantly reduce the use of energy in data centres. One of the many examples of this is free cooling.
Data centres tend to use a significant amount of energy on their cooling systems. Racks of servers generate a huge amount of heat, which must be cooled down lest they cause damage to themselves, losing data and possibly becoming dangerous. Traditional cooling methods such as compressors had a PUE (power usage efficiency) of between 1.6 and 2. Free cooling, using the natural cold air in place of energy consuming cold air compressors, can reduce PUE to 1.3. It’s particularly effective in colder climates. Cutting-edge data centres in Scotland, for instance, can use free cooling for over 90% of the time, reducing cooling energy consumption by around a quarter.
Simply using colocation is better for the environment and your organisation’s pocket. Aside from the clear cost benefits such as upfront prices and not having to train your own staff, the savings for both your budget and your organisation’s carbon footprint are noticeable. For many people colocation sounds technical, but it really isn’t. Hiring a space for your racks and the security, cooling, space and power for them is a sensible, cost-effective way to do things. Sharing space with other server racks cuts the environmental cost of each company using the energy for itself, of course.
Using a larger facility with specialist staff, though, also means that the data centre has the resources and knowledge to benefit from the more innovative methods of reducing its own environmental impact.
Many individuals and organisations care deeply about the environment and try to lessen their impact on it. It’s not just good for the planet, however, it’s sound business to operate in as ‘green’ a manner as possible, saving on both your carbon footprint and your pocket. Data centres, with their highly specialised skills and knowledge and their position at the forefront of the industry, are well placed to help your organisation make the very best of the energy they use on your behalf.
Bruce Evans is a freelance writer with a keen interest in the latest innovations in digital technology, particularly data management systems such as colocation. He loves to write about how business processes are changing in today’s world.