Data Centres: Emerging Green Platforms

Data Centres (DC) are undergoing a shift from enterprise owned Data Centre to colocation and cloud based infrastructure driven by economic and business agility goals. The cost of building and managing privately owned data centre is sometimes justified for mission control, legacy applications but in most other scenarios the cost that entails outweighs such criticalities. Hence more and more businesses are opting for outsourced management at colocation facilities and are even opting to relinquish the hardware ownership completely, going even beyond and are adopting cloud based infrastructure services. This has led to mushrooming of mix of enterprise, colocation and edge data centres as a recent high business activity along with cloud services. With DC and cloud space seeing exponential growth, the vocabulary used for commonly used unit for Digital storage has changed from Petabytes PB  (1015) to Zettabytes ZB (1021).

Historically speaking, March 16, 2006 Amazon Web Services (AWS) released the Simple Storage Services (S3) that lit the fire under cloud computing. Credit card is all that was needed to provision storage www.perspectives.mvdirona.com.  The customers like Netflix (in 2010), Suncorp Group (in 2013), Kempinski Hotels (in 2013), CIA (in 2013) going as “all-in” on AWS were game changing events. This helped established cloud space from “startups darling to enterprise juggernaut” as stated by Jason Deck VP Strategy Development at AWS partner Logicworks.

But business leaders are still jostling between choosing enterprise owned to edge to colocation to cloud platform in the scenarios where cost are still ambiguous and difficult to compare. CTOs and IT heads have to take decisions based on multiple factors like level of security sought (individual perceptions playing a major role), DC availability/reliability/resilience, availability of capital to invest, operational expertise etc.

The new models like the Edge Data Centres, which can be established in months, are easing establishment of Micro Data Centres with their modular design and availability in factory-ready-container-design formats. Containerized Edge data centres www.deltapowersolutions.com with flexible power and cooling designs, quick deployment and scalable capacity have become popular as Edge Deployment Centres acting as mirror data centres e.g. in telecom business near cell towers. There is a new hybrid model evolving which brings on colocation/edge centre as primary site with public cloud acting as a fall over secondary space, which also seamlessly provides burst space when needed.

Data centres on one hand are bringing sea change how businesses are done by bringing in benefits like reducing travel for trade and transactions, speeding up IT enabled services, speed of communication and are giving rise to digital revolution in sectors comprising of financial institution, telecom operations, manufacturing and services. On the other hand Data Centres are notoriously power hungry, capable of generating high heat and have high carbon footprint. It is estimated that DC account for 1.5 to 2% of all world’s electricity consumption. The rate grows by 12% annual and currently accounts for 2% of entire global emissions. www.oceantech.com. In wake of this many businesses have taken a proactive approach by devoting lot of time and resources to tackle its contribution towards climate change. This incidentally makes parallel business sense as well. Energy saved and efficiency attained directly converts into business profits especially when energy and water are becoming scarce and expensive.

Google, Apple, Facebook have began harnessing renewal energy to power their Data Centre services. Microsoft’s Project Natick where cooling power can be obtained from seawater and wave energy is used for power generation; Google’s Hamina Centre using seawater as coolant, are some of the interesting radical solutions in action. www.motherboard.vice.com.

Another disruptive technology creating waves in the market is Bloom Mission Control by Bloom energy. www.bloomenergy.com. Based on their proprietary solid oxide fuel cell technology, Bloom Energy Servers convert fuel into electricity through an electrochemical process without combustion at the highest efficiency of any power solution available in the world today www.bloomenergy.com. Their architecture creates best of breed reliability, the system is modular and highly customizable power supply.

From the owner’s point of view the crucial aspect of data centre is the life cycle costing. A good data centre design is an extensive subject and is fundamental to ensure that the Data centre remains efficient and available over the course of its lifespan. It is crucial not only for the success but also for the existence of the businesses in focus. The DC life cycle comprises of five fundamental phases:  Plan, Design, Build, Operate and Assess. A detailed white paper is available at www.it-resource.schneider-electric.com.  The onus of ensuring uptime for DC services is becoming a challenge and tremendous work in going on in optimising services pricing & backup power, internet connectivity, HVAC cooling, physical and structural facility security etc.

In line with the industry requirements various regulations, standards and ratings for Data Centre are available. Uptime Institute is the IT industry’s most trusted and adopted global standard for the proper design, build and operation of data centers www.uptimeinstitute.com. It provides the most authoritative, evidence-based, and unbiased guidance to design, manage, and operate the critical DC infrastructure against the Tier Standards www.uptimeinstitute.com – helping client to meet their key business objectives.

In view of the climate change, the sustainability and green buildings are becoming a necessity. The organizations like World Green Building Council www.worldgbc.org with its 70 operative countries as members, helps advance green buildings in the respective countries to achieve environmental, economic and social goals on a larger, global scale. US Green Building Council www.usgbc.org has come up with LEED BD+C: Data Centres certification for Green Data Centre www.usgbc.org similarly Confederation of Indian Industries – India under its umbrella launched IGBC Green Data Centre rating system during the Green Building Congress (GBC) in 2016 at Mumbai www.igbc.in. The Green Building Ratings primarily addresses energy efficiency in DCs, while introducing many other green concepts and promotes innovative ideas. Green DC rating system offers several tangible and intangible benefits, including reduction in PUE (power usage effectiveness) by 20-25%, water conservation by up to 30%, enhanced IEQ, promotes e-waste management, encourages use of green certified/recycled/recyclable materials and wellbeing of staff operating and managing the DC. With ISO standards & ASHRAE standards as built-in sub-parameters, these Green ratings provide Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum Rated status according to their respective guidelines.

In India the prominent world class service providers in the data centre business are Netmagic Solutions (owned by NTT Communications), CtrlS Data Center, Sify, Reliance,, Tulip Telecom, BSNL-SIS,  GPX Global systems Inc, Net4, Web Werks, Tata Communications and such others www.phoeniixx.com . The most recent one is Netmagic DC3B Data Centre at Whitefield, Bangalore that has been awarded IGBC Data Centre Platinum Rating.

“In terms of market share, however, it’s worth pointing out that Digital Realty Trust has approximately 20.5 per cent of the wholesale colocation market, Global Switch (7.7 per cent), DuPont Fabros Technology (6 per cent), CyrusOne (4.3 per cent), and China Telecom (4.3 per cent). Data Centre Knowledge lists the top five retail colocation providers as: Equinix (10.5 per cent); China Telecom (5.9 per cent); China Unicom (43 per cent); Telehouse KDDI (3.3 per cent); and NTT Communications (2.1 per cent).

Digital India program will stand to benefit with the existence of more National data centres design and functioning on Green Building norms specially in the wake of climate change, the rising energy  & water costs and availability. TerraLive with its highly skilled taskforce and domain knowledge offers expertise in helping clients’ design, build and operate State-of-the-art Green Data Centres.

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