Dr Stu Redshaw, Founder and CTO at EkkoSense, believes IT and Facilities teams will have to work much harder if they’re to address the twin challenges of capacity-limited data centres and the transition to zero carbon.
Data centres are an organisation’s second largest consumer of energy, and over 35% of that is taken up by cooling. Given that significant power draw, we were surprised during our research into data centre thermal performance to find that the industry currently only achieves 34% cooling utilisation, and that 11% of racks in data centres weren’t actually meeting ASHRAE guidelines for thermal compliance.
That’s a problem in an industry that is coming under increased focus for its energy usage. Just this summer, the authorities in Amsterdam took the decision to temporarily halt data centre construction due to local power infrastructure pressure and a shortage of land. For local data centre operators this now means operating with a finite limit to their expansion headroom. And I suspect where Amsterdam leads, others – including Paris, Frankfurt and London – will follow.
So it’s incumbent on data centre operators of all sizes to optimise their performance. They need to be able to do much more with much less. This will become increasingly apparent as organisations find that meeting their net zero carbon commitments is proving more difficult that they initially hoped. While it’s great that these firms are funding green energy projects to offset usage, the reality is that there simply isn’t enough green energy available to support their mid-to-long term commitments. This will have a significant impact on the cost of zero carbon electricity, and the pressure on data centres to optimise energy consumption will become more intense.
What’s clear is that – as an industry – data centres still aren’t doing enough to optimise their energy performance. Instead of paying for expensive zero carbon electricity to offset their carbon consumption, it makes more sense to focus on optimising all aspects of their data centre performance. And because legacy DCIM approaches and complex CFD systems simply aren’t equipped to support this, data centre teams will need to turn to an entirely new generation of intuitive tools to manage all their space, power and cooling capacity planning requirements in real-time.