Data Centres

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What is a Data Centre ?

A Data Centre is any centre or room containing equipment that provides or stores some form of data. For example: computer labs, machine rooms and server rooms.

Data Centres vary in size from a dedicated building e.g., Amazon’s or Microsoft’s “football pitch” size data centres in Northern America to a designated floor in a building at a university or a small server room located in a large office.

Data Centres contain an array of  electronic equipment such as; servers and cabinets, communication equipment (comms racks, switches and cabling), cooling equipment (air handling units, compressors etc), power equipment (UPS, electronic switch gear).

Data Centres use a massive amount of energy because they operate 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Servers themselves use a lot of electricity and create a lot of heat which needs to be removed by air conditioning or free air cooling. Servers require “clean” power /UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply). Data switches in every cabinet use power. (Data switches help transfer data into the server.) Computer rooms will have 100s of PCs running, with lights and printers all generating their own heat. Because of this Data Centres' running costs are huge. In fact they are often the biggest consumers of ICT related energy by a large percentage. All that use of energy contributes to carbon emissions, making targets more difficult to achieve. There are even concerns regarding the continuous supply of energy to data centers. Electricity supply is almost at capacity in parts of the UK, e.g. London,  so it’s likely that secure storage of data and information is at risk should there ever be a power shortage.

The main factors affecting the energy use of a data centre include:

So how do we "Green" our Data Centres ?

Greening your data center doesn't necessarily require a huge capital investment. Many of the savings to be made cost  almost nothing.

They include:

Institutions can mix & match their greening options and implementing more than one is recommended. Each has proven successful in energy, CO2 emission and running cost reduction.

Like all sustainable initiatives there are  barriers to their implementation.

They include:

To help with the design, installation and efficient operation of  a Data Center the SUSTE-TECH PM recommends reading the The EU Code of Conduct for Data Centre Energy Efficiency. It is a set of guidelines for Optimal Data Centre Energy Efficiency that was introduced in response to concerns about carbon emissions, energy costsand energy shortages, It covers everyone involved with data centres: operators, vendors, consultants, and all sizes and types of data centre.

 JISC have run a number of Data Centre and Server related projects.

Greening the Data Centre

Energy Recovery for Server Rooms project

The Planet File Store project