Data centres are the backbone of the digital economy – without them, we wouldn’t be able to do all the things we take for granted today. Unfortunately, the digitisation we all rely on requires vast amounts of power. In a world where energy is becoming increasingly expensive and unreliable, getting access to the most cost-effective and dependable power is a challenge, and one that individual businesses may struggle with on their own. Thankfully, efficient and well-run data centres have an answer.
The role of data centres in a changing energy landscape
We are seeing the increased use of renewable energy, the decline of fossil fuels, and the growth of new technologies that are transforming the way we produce and consume energy. This shift is happening at a time when our energy system is under immense strain. Data centres like ours have been able to achieve impressive efficiency by adopting innovative technologies and best practices that keep critical operations running during power outages or other disruptions. This means that our clients can benefit from improved resilience to energy shocks and ensure that they can continue to meet their customers' needs, whatever may be happening with the grid.
Data centres are highly efficient when it comes to energy use, using less than 1% of the world's electricity while handling nearly all of the world’s IP traffic. And, according to the International Energy Agency, this 1% share of global electricity usage has hardly changed since 2010 despite the number of internet users nearly doubling and global internet traffic increasing 15-fold since 2010. Whilst this share of electricity usage is predicted to increase, the relatively slow pace of the increase is testament to the energy efficiencies that data centres can achieve.
Data centres like our Farnborough facility are built with efficiency in mind and are designed to operate 24/7/365 using only the energy needed to keep servers and other equipment running cool and at peak performance. When it comes to data centre efficiency, size and scale matter - overall, data centres use less power than individual on-site data centre facilities and are more efficient with the power they do use (one large, well-designed data centre can be far more efficient than multiple smaller, separately managed in-house IT storage facilities). We are experts at managing demand/capacity charges, have strategies in place to shift energy use to off-peak times, and carefully monitor our energy use to avoid wasting resources. And the use of sophisticated cooling systems that use less energy and recycle waste heat, like our adiabatic cooling, offer considerable efficiency benefits – benefits that we can pass on to our clients.
Dealing with power disruptions
Our data centre is also incredibly resilient to power outages and other disruptions, and we have elaborate backup plans in place for when the power goes out. This is more pertinent than ever at this moment, as the government moots the prospect of power outages over the winter.
Our backup systems such as backup generators (ours are currently being migrated to the use of HVO - one of the world’s purest and greenest fuels - instead of fossil fuels) and other redundancies make it possible to maintain critical operations even when the power is intermittent or unavailable. And, in the unlikely event that power were to fail completely, our facility can be powered down in a controlled manner to minimise damage.
Becoming ever greener
The economies of scale that can be achieved with a purpose-built data centre allow for substantial energy and resource savings, and mean that we can take advantage of the latest energy-efficient technologies and practices. So, whilst operating a data centre is an energy-intensive endeavour, energy efficiencies can help offset some of the environmental impacts. And data centres like ours have significant bargaining power with energy suppliers and are able to negotiate favourable power contracts – ours uses power from renewable sources and offsets our carbon emissions through investments in the Southern Cardamom REDD+ project that helps reduce greenhouse gases.
Furthermore, we are able to support our clients in becoming more efficient in their use of resources. For example, by using virtualisation technologies, we can help organisations to reduce the number of physical servers they need to run their applications. This can lead to considerable savings in terms of both energy and space and can help businesses to operate more efficiently and sustainably.
Perhaps not surprisingly, we are speaking more and more with potential clients who are concerned about protecting their business-critical operations in the face of energy insecurity. We know that our efficient and resilient colocation is the solution that many organisations are looking for. Get in touch to find out more, or arrange a tour of our Farnborough facility.