Carbon reduction through IT energy optimisation
Thu 19 Nov 2020 | Dean Boyle
Dean Boyle, CEO, EkkoSense, discusses the importance of optimising the performance of power and cooling across networks
This month’s Net Zero Festival 2020 shows how interest is growing in the net zero economy 2050 target. The scale of the challenge is huge, but the pace of transition is accelerating, and more and more companies are starting to take it very seriously.
In fact, there are signs that many organisations are looking to go even further. Only this month some 150 organisations – including Microsoft, Unilever, IKEA and Apple – urged EU policymakers to adopt a 2030 goal to cut emissions by 55% against 1990 levels. Google took things further still by committing to completely eliminate its carbon legacy since the company’s 1998 foundation.
At EkkoSense we’re certainly seeing this enthusiasm reflected in the data centre sector where organisations use our monitoring and optimising software to manage their critical environments. Initially, focus was primarily on reducing risk and releasing data centre capacity. Now, however, there’s just as much interest in saving energy – not just for the financial savings this can unlock but also as an important step towards their carbon reduction goals.
Given the scale of their carbon reduction goals, brands know that they need to be targeting significant energy optimisation results if they are to achieve or even get close to net zero commitments. Data centres have a critical role to play here. They already represent an organisation’s second largest consumer of energy. And with around 35% of this energy taken up by powering cooling equipment, any initiative that can reduce data centre cooling will help to make a significant contribution to carbon reduction.
However, this is a challenge for operators that don’t have a clear understanding of how their data centre rooms are actually performing from a thermal, capacity and power perspective. Indeed, when faced with an external issue – such as an increased thermal demand placed on facilities by a surge in hosted services – the default position for many operations teams remains to keep throwing more cooling at the problem. This simply adds to the data centre’s overall carbon footprint, and often does little to resolve the original issue.
While data centre operators can clearly deliver unprecedented efficiency and environmental performance levels at hyperscale, the reality is that most data centres still face considerable operational challenges. We estimate that some 15% of racks still fall outside of ASHRAE guidelines for inlet temperatures, while a recent Uptime Institute Global Data Center Survey reported that power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratings across
the industry had actually deteriorated between 2018 and 2019 – suggesting that many data centre efficiency gains have stalled.
That’s why it’s so important for organisations to maintain their focus on optimising the performance of power and cooling across their networks – especially the harder-to-reach edge elements where continuous optimisation has always proved so challenging.
One organisation that has seized this initiative is Interxion, a leading European provider of carrier- and cloud-neutral colocation data centre services and a digital realty company. Working with EkkoSense, Interxion has reduced its cooling system energy consumption by 20% during the first year of a project designed to focus on thermal monitoring and airflow optimisation, increasing cooling capacity and reducing the energy cost of cooling equipment at a key London site.
Interxion is constantly looking for innovative ways of reducing its energy consumption and playing its part in supporting net zero emissions targets. Throughout the project, Interxion leveraged our EkkoSoft® Critical software to gain real-time visibility of key data centre operational and thermal performance – allowing them to monitor the site and identify areas for improvement.
These software-driven insights were the key driver behind the success of the project – clearly demonstrating how innovations such as data centre thermal optimisation can play a key role in securing energy savings and supporting carbon reduction.