This blog is the next
installment of a six-part series discussing data center challenges and solutions.
In my previous post, we looked at the importance of data storage
and management under the Internet of Things (IoT) evolution, as well as discussing how modular data centers can support IoT applications. With the
increased efforts towards “greening” the data centers, the efficiency and power usage effectiveness (PUE) of these data centers will likely be a
prime consideration in the future.
In Singapore, studies were
conducted to try and understand the trends and the likely future state of data
center PUE. Obtaining comprehensive data is difficult because organizations are
not compelled to report PUE. From the available data that we could find, the average
PUE is approximately 2.1; meaning that wasted energy exceeded useful energy
consumption by more than 100 percent. Some
companies didn’t report their PUE performance; hence the average PUE could be
higher or lower, but still far from optimal efficiency.
However, in Singapore,
many data centers are still operating in line with older data center designs that
are not compatible with evaporative or other free cooling techniques. Now, many organizations
are aware of the potential to update their designs and expectations to achieve
leading edge PUE.
A few years ago, hyperscale service providers began investing heavily in
modular data center technologies that employ evaporative cooling and operate at
extended temperature ranges, setting previously unknown PUE benchmarks. Some enterprise operators followed this same
path with their own production facilities and have already accomplished
impressive average PUE performance of less than 1.1 in the third quarter of 2014.
It’s my view that almost all data centers in Singapore will eventually need to reach
these benchmarks to ensure their place in the competitive data center global
Different territories, different PUE
Comparing PUE across
regions and countries is slightly unfair, since there are so many variables within
each environment. Hyperscale service providers can optimize and leverage the
large scale of their projects because they are able to run a small number of
tasks on a massive scale, but most enterprises are not built this way. They will have to continue supporting
hundreds of applications, meaning they must build redundancy into their data
centers to maximize uptime - a penalty to operating efficiency. They will remain subject to finite resources
and seemingly never ending growth to support, thus limiting their ability to
invest in new efficient data center facilities. However, enterprises can ill
afford to have inefficient data centers; this applies today and will be even
more critical in the future.
Changing times, changing need
The enterprise data center
is changing quickly. With more data and processing expected in the future, the
industry is looking towards consuming less energy and focusing on the effective
use of cooling and IT equipment designed for green data center applications. India
is producing some good examples with some of their large production data centers
achieving an average PUE of 1.6, a marked improvement from the 1.9 average of recent years. These same Indian data center operators expect
its data centers to reach an overall average of 1.3 within the next few years
and will continually drive the PUE number down over time. This proves that with
the right approach, reducing PUE is very possible even in hot and humid Asian
climates. Mastering PUE is dependent on
how enterprises take advantage of new technologies, how they manage budgets,
time frames and whether or not they can adapt; eventually replacing the
traditional mindset with a progressive paradigm.
A shifting landscape
has moved the data center development focus from “tried and true” to connected
and efficient. Businesses naturally need to react to the behavior of their
competitors, but its own competitiveness also hinges upon its ability to change
on a continuous basis. Government legislation informs this need to change, and you
can expect that CEOs and CIOs will take their cues from government policy to
ensure their business priorities remain compliant with regulations. When a government
is proactive in taking the lead and setting standards, change naturally
follows. In my next blog, I will discuss the benefits of purpose-built
and modular data centers as a strategy to get ahead and stay ahead of the PUE
have a question about the challenges and innovations for the modern data
center? Leave a comment below, and
I will be sure to respond.