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Sustainability: Key to the future of data centres in Singapore

Darren Webb, Managing Director, IO Singapore and Southeast Asia | Dec. 8, 2016
Achieving a viable sustainability strategy starts with the data centre's platform - how it is designed, constructed and operated.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Data centres have become one of the largest and fastest growing consumers of energy. According to DatacenterDynamics, 6.9 percent of all energy consumption in Singapore can be attributed to data centres. With the increased adoption of cloud-based services, big data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT), this figure is expected to rise and data centres around the world, including those in Singapore are beginning to recognize the need to put in place innovative solutions to reduce their overall environmental impact. 

Achieving a viable sustainability strategy starts with the data centre's platform - how it is designed, constructed and operated. Just as network and storage optimization are software driven, a software-centric approach is the best way to reveal current system inefficiencies, reduce waste throughout the IT stack, and create a waste-free environment. Data centers can support their sustainability strategies by taking their waste and diverting them to a more sustainable route, this initiative is referred to as a zero waste data center.

Propelled by innovation focused on achieving energy efficiency, new technologies and trends are emerging in the booming Singapore data centre market. Here are some environmentally friendly principles and practices that are driving down costs and ushering in needed efficiencies:

1.     Delivering modular data centre technology

The shift from traditional, construction-based data centres to modular, assembly-based data centres has been an important step to greater efficiency. With a modular approach, data centre capacity can be deployed in smaller units and on-demand just as storage compute and networking are delivered. This efficient design and operation eliminates the need for wasteful over-provisioning of capacity found in traditional environments, reducing an organisation's carbon footprint as it means using less energy and less water.

Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) has worked with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to formulate the BCA-IDA Green Mark for Data Centres to encourage data centres to implement energy and environmental management systems.

The IMDA has also developed the Green Data Centre Standard to provide guidelines for organizations to establish the policies, systems and processes necessary to improve the energy efficiency of their data centres and to lessen the impact on the environment.

2.     Reducing waste and negative environmental impact

A large portion of a data centre's costs incurred are derived from energy expenditure, with most of this energy coming from the burning of fossil fuels, the source of the largest environmental impact for those in our industry.

To address the issue of overall sustainability, some companies are investing in alternative, renewable sources of energy to eliminate the use of hazardous or scarce materials altogether, while others have had success with ways to divert waste in more sustainable pathways.


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