Green Data Centres

29 June 2011 by David Stockford

Organisations are increasingly turning their environmental efforts towards costly data centres which use vast amounts of energy to run their computer equipment and keep cool. Many organisations are guilty of an ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach to their IT infrastructure and data centres can remain in place for years without upgrading. Both the public and private sector have shown considerable improvements in recent years with the Greening Government ICT plan surviving the transition to the coalition government. Hampshire County Council have reported savings of £1m per annum as a result of upgrading their IT infrastructure and centralising key IT staff to a single site. Some £85,000 of this came from energy costs alone.

Global retail giant, Tesco has also reported energy and carbon savings when it upgraded its data centres. IT accounted for a small but significant 3-4% of Tesco’s carbon footprint. However 20 year old data centres were running out of power and space and urgent action was required. Efficiency improvement initiatives across facility, IT and operational process allowed Tesco to realise a potential 40 – 50% reduction in power consumption. More recently social networking site, Facebook has announced that it will share the design secrets behind its new energy efficient data centre with rival companies in the hope that it will allow the industry to cut the amount of electricity it uses. Facebook will release specifications and mechanical plans of the building and its servers. The centre makes extensive use of outside air to cool the servers. 

Closer to home, global consultancy Capgemini has located its impressive new data centre in Swindon. The centre is currently the most efficient in the UK and will take about half as much energy to cool it than a traditional data centre while using about a quarter of the funds to maintain it though the company remains elusive over about specific design elements of the centre.  However with saving figures like these it is easy to see why companies are investing huge amounts of money in sustainable IT infrastructure.

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