Green data centres can lead to sustainable digital transformation - Hindustan Times
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Green data centres can lead to sustainable digital transformation

ByPiyush Somani
Jun 11, 2024 01:16 PM IST

This article is authored by Piyush Somani, chairman, CMD & CEO, ESDS Software Solution Ltd.

In the digital age, the surge in data volume is unprecedented, driven by the burgeoning digital business landscape. Data has become integral to growth, innovation, and enhancing customer experiences, with global data volumes projected to reach 291 zettabytes (ZB) by 2027. In India, this explosion is fueled by increased government digital initiatives, enterprise data generation, and consumer engagement with technology. Organisations leverage vast amounts of data from diverse sources—including Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, social media, financial transactions, and smart devices—to derive actionable insights through advanced analytics.

Data centres (representative)(Shutterstock)
Data centres (representative)(Shutterstock)

Data centres (DCs) are crucial for storing, processing, and delivering the digital information that powers daily life. However, as reliance on data intensifies, there is a need for their environmental impact to be minimised. DCs are significant consumers of electricity, contributing to carbon emissions due to the power required for both operations and cooling. For instance, storing just one terabyte of data in the cloud has an estimated carbon footprint of two tonnes annually.

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Despite these challenges, many data centers are adopting green initiatives to mitigate their environmental impact. By using renewable energy sources, implementing energy-efficient technologies, and employing innovative cooling methods, green DCs are leading the way in responsible environmental stewardship.

Green Dcs represent the next frontier in sustainable digital infrastructure as the DC market is India grows. With 138 DCs, India has the 13th-largest data center market globally. According to the research, 45 new DCs with a combined capacity of 1,015 megawatts and 13 million square feet will be constructed by the end of 2025.

Traditional DCs consume vast amounts of energy for cooling. Green data centers, however, employ innovative cooling methods such as liquid cooling and free-air cooling. These techniques are more efficient and environmentally friendly, reducing the energy required to maintain optimal temperatures for servers. Deploying hot aisle/cold aisle containment enhances air management, ensuring effective and energy-efficient cooling. The architectural design of green DCs plays a crucial role in their energy efficiency. For instance, using Cellular Lightweight Concrete (CLC) blocks provides better thermal efficiency, optimising cooling requirements. Sun louvers over buildings ensure minimal sunlight penetration, further reducing cooling needs.

Energy efficiency in computing and storage solutions is paramount to reducing the environmental impact of DCs and this could be accomplished through:

· Energy-efficient hardware: Modern DCs are incorporating hardware that consumes less power and generates less heat. A power-efficient server refresh strategy can reduce energy consumption by 20%, enhancing both performance and energy efficiency.

· Vertical scaling technology: This optimises the resources of a single server or hardware unit, enhancing performance and efficiency. This method reduces the need for additional servers, cutting overall power consumption. It also adjusts resource allocation based on real-time demand, minimising idle time and unnecessary energy use.

· Effective cabling management: The installation of harmonic filters and Automatic Power Factor Correction (APFC) panels improves power quality and efficiency. Metering and monitoring systems enable effective energy management, ensuring that energy use is optimised, and wastage is minimised.

· LED lamps and motion sensors: Simple yet effective measures to reduce energy consumption in data centers. Deploying over 100 motion sensors can significantly enhance energy efficiency. Additionally, the use of efficient data management practices is crucial for minimizing the storage footprint and associated energy use and this could be achieved through:

· Data compression and deduplication: Implementing data compression and deduplication techniques reduces the amount of storage required by eliminating redundant data. This not only saves space but also reduces the energy needed for storage and retrieval operations.

· Effective data lifecycle management: Managing the lifecycle of data involves regular assessment of data relevance and retention policies. By archiving or deleting obsolete data, organisations can significantly reduce their storage footprint.

· Utilising cloud services: Cloud computing offers scalable and efficient storage solutions. Cloud services optimise resource use and energy efficiency through shared infrastructure, providing energy-efficient solutions that reduce the environmental impact of data storage.

· Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning for energy optimisation: Advanced technologies like AI and machine learning can forecast energy use and optimise operations. For example, AI can achieve significant reductions in energy used for cooling and overall energy use, demonstrating the potential of AI in driving energy efficiency in DCs.

Navigating the data deluge of the digital era underscores the imperative of sustainability. Emerging technologies such as AI for energy optimisation and biodegradable hardware are poised to revolutionise the way data's environmental footprint is managed. AI, with its predictive capabilities, holds immense potential in optimising energy usage within data centers, paving the way for unprecedented efficiency gains. Similarly, the development of biodegradable hardware offers a sustainable alternative, reducing e-waste and minimising the ecological impact of technological advancement.

The journey towards sustainability requires collaboration, uniting tech companies, governments, and consumers in a shared mission to address environmental challenges. Through joint efforts, innovation can be fostered, policies enacted, and a culture of sustainability cultivated that transcends borders and industries.

Envisioning the future reveals a landscape where data and sustainability converge seamlessly. This future aligns technological progress with environmental stewardship, embedding consciousness and responsibility into every digital interaction. Embracing the opportunity to shape a sustainable digital frontier will not only enrich lives but also preserve the planet.

This article is authored by Piyush Somani, chairman, CMD & CEO, ESDS Software Solution Ltd.

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