Powering the Data Centers of Tomorrow

As a result of the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) in everyday life, there has been an unprecedented rise in demand for data centers. This is especially so in Southeast Asia where the access to the internet and connectivity has risen over the years.

Due to the rising affluence of the 650 million populous in the region, it is estimated that the digital data generation will create at least 3.7 trillion gigabytes of data by the end of 2020. This is driving substantial growth in the data center industry which, according to research by TechNavio, is expected to reach US $359 million by 2020.

To cater to the demands of an “always-on” generation, data centers need to be fully operational 24 hours a day, every single day of the week. Massive amounts of energy are being consumed. In Singapore alone, data centers account for nearly 10 percent of the country’s energy consumption with projections to hit 12 percent by 2030 due to the nation’s endeavor to establish itself as the data center hub of the Asia Pacific region. Many people know about the existence of data centers and how they support Big Data, IoT and Smart Cities; however, very little is discussed about the impact that these data centers have on the environment.

The data center of tomorrow is one that is truly sustainable. Now more than ever, there needs to be critical discussions taking place within the industry to ensure the implementation of solutions that protect the sanctity of the environment that we live in. This requires using materials and processes aimed at minimizing the facility’s impact on both human and environmental health. This is where companies have to make sure that every component in the data center does as little damage as possible to human health and the natural world.

As we move into 2017, three trends in the sustainable data centers of tomorrow are fast emerging:

  1. Rising (sustainability) standards

Green data centers are starting to become the new industry standard instead of a once far-away ideal concept. Governments have recognized the importance of this and are said to be the main drivers of this growth. In Singapore, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has partnered with other government agencies and the industry to develop a set of performance metrics for data centers to measure their energy efficiency – Singapore Standard SS 564 Green Data Centers.

Standards like these not only define a set of performance metrics for data centers to measure their energy efficiency, but also provide a benchmark to help data centers track their performance and improvements. The SS 564 also recommends a comprehensive set of industry best practices that cover various aspects of data center operations and design.

To make attaining these standards easier, companies should source for and use products that are already certified to a certain standard. For example, the usage of uninterruptable power system (UPS) products that have already received Sustainable Materials Rating Technology (SMaRT) certification from the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability (MTS), an internationally recognized standard for measuring product sustainability. Deploying products that already adhere to a set of sustainable guidelines helps to ensure that companies are using a cost-effective product that can reduce their environmental impact.

  1. Smaller in size, but packs a greater punch