The green agenda has come under fire in recent years, with cynics lining up to dismiss efforts to make the ICT industry more environmentally friendly as a paper exercise that’s more about generating publicity than making a tangible impact upon the sector’s carbon footprint.
While it is undeniable that some efforts to make a noise about carbon reduction have amounted to little more than ‘greenwash’, at SCC we believe that the use of environmentally friendly technology will increasingly become a central issue over the years ahead. With Government targets, energy costs and public sentiment creating a perfect storm, no organisation can afford to ignore rising demand for a greener approach to doing business.
That’s why when it came to building our new £25 million data centre, the environmental agenda was hard wired into our plans from the very beginning.
Right from the earliest planning stages, we understood the reality that energy costs will steadily increase over the next decade. Rather than cashing in and passing the cost onto customers with a price hike of our own, we knew that we needed to be aware of the issue and apply that factor to every aspect of the new centre’s design.
We chose to use a brownfield site, repurposing an existing building to maximise the environmental advantages of this approach, while the required building work utilised as many green construction techniques as possible.
At blueprint level, the efficiency of how the centre would operate was taken into account. we looked at the average temperature in the area where the facility was to be sited and created a building that doesn’t have to be actively cooled when the ambient temperature is below 12 celsius (which happens quite a lot in the UK).
The entire system, which was carefully planned to anticipate every scenario the centre might be asked to handle, has been optimised to keep it as efficient as possible. If we have to install systems that has higher levels of power and consequently produce more heat, a water cooling system can be deployed direct to cabinets, generating considerable savings.
With advanced cooling technology for servers built in to the data centre’s fabric, this approach has seen a 30%-40% reduction in our energy consumption and we believe it could get better.
Even the power we do consume is green, having selected an environmentally friendly tariff from our energy supplier that extends the facility’s credentials as a low impact installation.
Finally, we run our data centre – home of the OptimiseCloud™ platform – as a carbon neutral facility, using a gold standard system of carbon credits that represent the best you can buy. There’s been a lot of controversy over such schemes over the years, so selecting a programme that is both credible and effective was given central significance throughout the process.
All of this delivers a range of key environmental benefits, but just as importantly it offers a compelling business case too.
One customer we surveyed recently discovered that the average usage of its in-house data centre stood at 4.5%. In our environment, we enjoy a 80%-90% usage rate per server.
Efficiency is about consuming exactly what you need rather than buying what you think you need, and a truly green data centre can play a major role in that process. Data storage represents one of the most inefficient factors in the compute environment, and streamlining that process can have a significant impact upon both your financial and environmental bottom lines.
Whatever your organisation’s focus – be it on the environment, computing efficiency or business cost – hosting data and applications in a credible, certified green data centre is the key to making a range of savings. Can you really afford to ignore any of those factors? We’d suggest that doing so could represent a major mistake.