Rackspace’s Gavin Murray explores four ways data centre operators can keep facilities cool in an ecological way
A few weeks ago temperatures reached highs of 38°C across the UK, marking the hottest July day on record. This is set to become a more regular occurrence, with predictions that London will face similar temperatures to Barcelona within a couple of decades.
Few are questioning the impact of climate change and instead all industries are having to consider how they can mitigate the causes and manage its impact. And the data centre sector is no exception.
The climate change challenges facing data centres
Rising temperatures pose three new challenges to data centre operators. Firstly, providers must work harder to keep their data centres cool. Keeping the expensive computing equipment from overheating is critical to ensuring the centre can deliver efficient services to its customers. With rising temperatures, the data centre community must actively manage the impact of climate change to ensure their data centres continue to perform optimally.
This, in turn, introduces new cost-efficiency challenges for data centre providers. Cooling is already by far the greatest consumer of electrical power in data centres: it can account for as much as 40 or 50 per cent of all power consumed.
To put this into perspective, in 2015 416.2 terawatt hours of electricity was consumed by the world’s data centres – in the UK, the total consumption was around 300 terawatt – and the global footprint of data centres has rapidly expanded since.
As temperatures rise, cooling will only become more costly for data centre providers if they do not look at new innovative solutions. This cost is likely to fall to customers, leading IT decisions makers to increasingly prioritise the cooling credentials of data centre providers when making their choice.
Finally, data centre providers have a responsibility to address this challenge in an ecological way. Researchers predict that the data centre sector could consume one-fifth of the world’s available electricity by 2025, with an ever-growing volume of data being created and at an accelerating speed. Not only does this put an enormous strain on our energy supplies, it deals a hefty blow to efforts to contain global warming.
It has never been more important for data centre leaders to address these challenges. Not only does the sector have a responsibility to do its bit to reduce climate change, but it will be critical to its future success.