Saving Data Centres Costs with the Green RevolutionBy Ronnie Lee, Co-Chair, Green Data Centre Standards Work Group, ITSC
Data Centres are growing
In September 2011, Google announced that three new data centres will be built in Asia. Singapore was selected as one of the three with an investment of US$100 million on 2.45 hectare of land. Savvis announced a second data centre in March 2012, investing US$100 million for a 53,000 sq foot facility and a 32,000 sq ft raised floor space in Singapore. According to BroadGroup, the data centre capacity in Singapore is projected to increase by 50 percent over the next few years, from 2.4 million sq ft in 2010 to 3.6 million sq ft in 2015.
Energy and Cost guzzling Data Centres
As a result, data centres are growing in size and complexity, which means added costs to the business, as energy and power typically take up half the operating costs of a data centre. Estimates suggest that the 10 largest data centre operators in Singapore consume energy equivalent to 130,000 households, which is 10% of the total Singapore households. In fact, only 30% of the total energy consumed by a data centre is utilised by IT equipment. The remaining 70% of the energy goes into cooling the data centre, which leaves a lot of room to cut costs by minimising the energy spend.
The onus is on data centres to reduce costs and their footprint on the environment. They don’t have the choice to not expand, as failing to do so will result in them losing competitiveness and business. In response to the increasing demand for energy, data centre operations have been gearing up for a green revolution over the past 3 – 5 years. Data centres are building and adapting their facilities in an energy-efficient manner and implementing technologies that help decrease the amount of energy needed to run a facility.
The Singapore Standard for Green Data Centres
In 2011, ITSC launched the Singapore Standard for Green Data Centres – Energy and Environmental Management Systems (SS564:2010), which helps organisations establish systems and processes necessary to improve the energy efficiency of their DCs. It provides them with a recognised framework and methodology to green their data centres. More importantly, organisations can benchmark their performance with a set of defined performance metrics for data centres to measure their energy efficiency. The Standard was the stepping stone to raise awareness of best practices in green data centre management and is especially tailored to Singapore. To date, 9 DCs have been certified to this Standard.
Introducing the BCA-IDA Green Mark for Data Centres
Since the launch of the Standard, IDA has teamed up with BCA to create the BCA-IDA Green Mark for DCs. While the SS564 addresses the “How to go Green”, there is a need to know “How Green is the DC”. The Green Mark for DCs will offer a common acceptable yardstick, which will enable DCs to benchmark their degree of greenness with respect to their peers. In order to get a good performance benchmark criteria that is reflective of a data centre and not just a building, both the Energy Research Institute (ERI@NTU ) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), a leader in Data Centre benchmarking in the US, have been engaged to develop the criteria.
The Green Mark for DCs will leverage on the SS564 as a cornerstone prerequisite for the higher rating bands. This is because of the recognition accorded to an energy and environment management system that advocates continuous performance improvements and the setting up of the necessary structure and processes to achieve these improvements. In addition, the requirement for energy assessment for both SS564 and Green Mark for DCs has been harmonised so that the DC need only focus on getting a baseline assessment and working on the improvements.
The new category of Green Mark for DCs will be launched in the later part of this year.
Beyond standards for management and rating, IDA encouraged the industry to innovate in the areas of Green Data Centres. An Innovation Challenge was issued last year to spur the DC operators to be more energy efficient and hence lower business costs and make Singapore more competitive. Winners of the Innovation Challenge will receive funding to deploy solutions that will lower energy consumption and increase energy efficiency of the DCs. The winners will be announced in Apr 2012.
Energy Efficiency in the Data Centre – Next Steps
The business case for Green Data Centres is becoming increasing clear. Reducing energy not only improves the green credentials, it also helps the data centre save significant operating costs. Our efforts in this space mark the first steps towards energy efficiency in data centres across Singapore. More importantly, it is part of a global movement to reduce the carbon footprint of an industry that is viewed as an energy guzzler.