A year of global upheaval and accelerated digital transformation is driving exponential growth in the rate at which information is created, stored and shared.

“And all of that information needs data centres to store it, power it, secure it, and make it available,” says NEXTDC CEO, Craig Scroggie.

“We are creating more digital information today than any other point in history. Analysts estimate that every two years, the entire volume of information that exists since the beginning of time is created again.”

However, everything has a cost in life. All that storing, processing, securing and sharing of data creates a huge energy requirement — and with it, carbon emissions.

NEXTDC is staking out a leadership role, not only in its own approach to carbon neutrality but with a program called NEXTneutral, which makes it easy for organisations to offset the carbon impact of their I.T operations in NEXTDC’s data centres.

“The amount of power required to drive data centres continues to grow exponentially, which is why we have such a dedicated focus on the efficiency of data centres. We run them with a very low Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) to ensure that we can be as efficient as we can possibly be.”

Scroggie says the science is clear about the relationship between carbon emissions and climate change, and NEXTDC has a role to play in helping its customers reduce their carbon footprint. 

“We do that by being highly efficient. We do that by creating opportunities to offset the carbon that we create through programs like NEXTNeutral.

Deeper value

Scroggie says offering customers the ability to participate in those carbon-neutral programs is a critically important part of offering deeper value.

The growth in data centres around the world has brought the issues of digital transformation and energy consumption together. Projections out of Schneider Electric, for instance, suggest that at the current pace the energy consumption by data centres will double by 2025 — driven in part by new approaches to data processing such as edge computing. 

Schneider’s Joe Craparotta recently told Which-50, “With 7.5 million new micro data centres expected to be installed by 2025, the global footprint at peak power stands at a staggering 120GW for edge facilities alone. This adds up to between 450,000 to 600,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.”

Data centre construction and management is also far more specialised today than in the past.

According to Scroggie, “Historically data centres were run in-house. To operate a data centre, you needed to cool computers by putting them in a very large-scale room, and having air conditioning pumped into that room. Ultimately that proved very inefficient.”

Today’s data centres are designed for a very high degree of efficiency. “And we manage the customers’ infrastructure in a way that allows them to get the lowest possible operating costs through our high efficiency.

“The kinds of challenges our customers face in their data centre often involve moving out of their legacy on-premise environments and into colocation facilities. Cloud allows them to get better value for money so that they are only paying for what they consume, and this consumption model also ensures they achieve the most efficient environmental footprint.”

Creating the most energy-efficient data centres starts with the design and the approach to building the physical environment.

Designed for sustainability

According to Scroggie, “Many of the physical processes that go into building and constructing data centres, the use of concrete and other things, contribute to the carbon footprint. It is critically important that we look at all aspects of an environmental footprint.”

He says it’s not just about the actual power use and efficiency, but also the materials that are used in data centres.

“It is also about how data centres recycle not only water or waste but also customers’ equipment over time,” says Scroggie. 

“Successful and sustainable organisations will take a holistic approach. That will involve getting the most efficient use of their IT footprint, as well as how they offset the carbon they do emit. They will also focus on all aspects of recycling — from the waste byproducts generated by the compute services themselves, right through to the end-of-life strategy for recycling of legacy materials.”

This article was produced by Which-50’s Digital Intelligence Unit on behalf of NEXTDC.

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