While global IT enterprises move towards carbon neutral operations with lower energy demand data centres powered by non-carbon-based energy sources, or siting operations in countries with lower ambient temperatures, what are the options for the majority of firms less able to pursue ‘green’ data centre innovations?
on365 - a specialist in the planning, installing, management and optimisation of infrastructure and utility services - has noted that many ‘green’ data centres are one-off innovations, that cannot be replicated or are simply beyond the means of most firms. Through its long track record of work with UK and EMEA enterprises and mid-range companies, on365 believes that a more realistic approach is to cast the net wider and examine five main factors that influence the siting of a data centre:
Five ‘optimum’ factors
· · Cheapest electricity – enterprises have seen massive energy costs variations and where the company is seeking to own its facility, corporate facility managers (FMs) and senior IT executives want lower energy unit costs, as power needs tend to double every year. This may include options beyond the UK borders.
· · ‘Server hugging’ – despite the global IT industry’s shift towards remotely-delivered computing, many firms still require their data centre to be close to their main offices. This is because key company staff – e.g. financial traders – needs data centres right on top of Internet connectivity points so they don’t have any latency restrictions to successful business trading. In on365’s experience less important requirements can also influence location such as IT personnel wanting their key sites close at hand for emergency maintenance needs or management wanting a comfort blanket around ‘their baby’.
· · Climate – research suggests that countries with low ambient temperature and sustainable energy sources (data centres in Iceland powered by geo-thermal power or units in Norway cooled by sea water) is ideal but the proportion of these facilities offering viable data centre capacity will be limited, particularly with Iceland experiencing volcanic eruptions and the country having yet to develop its next stage undersea connections with the USA and UK
· · Real estate prices – in the UK, companies’ decision to invest in their own data centres may be thwarted by prohibitive real estate prices in London or inside the M25; Outside of the capital, the rising demand for computing resources is creating other opportunities: for example a number of UK entrepreneurs have acquired and upgraded office facilities and marketed them as data centres to boost property portfolio returns
· · Running costs – data centres are definitely shifting from being CAPEX to OPEX driven as the use and costs of energy continue to soar. FMs/IT managers are under greater pressure from CFOs to reduce rising data centre operational costs, whether through the use of fresh air cooling, higher efficiencies or multi-faceted approaches such as Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM).
Chris Smith, sales & marketing director, on365 comments: “While research reports have suggested that countries like Iceland are touted as optimum data centre locations, this scenario suits only the very largest technology firms whose innovation and buying power is helping shape wider data centre innovations.
“In reality, there is no ‘optimum location’ for this type of resource apart from placing it right next to a hydro-electric power station where electricity costs 1p/kWhr, the outside weather is arid and temperatures rarely exceeds 25⁰C, the data pipes are huge, the local skill-sets abundant and land prices on the fall. The 100 year flood defense is solid and all other physical threats are so low, they can be ignored. In reality, the great majority of companies that are necessarily very strongly cost-driven, owning their data centre or outsourcing to a third party or the cloud still rests on a similar series of complex factors but a large dose of reality and compromise are also required. ”
Tags: Design & Facilities Management, Power & Cooling