Embrace greener data centres or go bust

PM supports carbon trading plan

Australian companies that have been able to overcome corporate apathy about running greener, cleaner data centres are reaping significant bottom line benefits.

An expert in developing energy-efficient data centres warns failure to act on green initiatives will come back to haunt Australian companies in years to come as mounting energy bills and regulatory pressures force their hand.

At a roadshow last week in Canberra hosted by Emerson Network Power, 3iGroup managing director, Kris Kumar, said being green equals the ability to be both energy and operationally efficient, while simultaneously maintaining reliability and scalability.

"Data centres by their very nature are power hungry beasts," Kumar said.

"Running an energy efficient data centre is not easy, because optimal solutions can vary wildly; there is no one size fits all approach."

Moreover, there are no uniform standards on planning, design and execution, something which is also inhibiting wholesale moves to greener data centres.

Optimal energy efficiency measures can also vary depending on the physical location of the data centre.

Some organisations may find themselves sitting on a gold mine when it comes to achieving energy efficiencies in their data centre.

One example of location-specific innovation is a cooling method the 3i Group helped introduce to the Vodafone data centre in Hobart 12 years ago, drawing on geothermal energy.

The 3i group designed a system that pumps water down 96 metres into the ground to be cooled.

"Using the geothermal belt we got free cooling. The chilled water coming up is at about seven degrees, which is then able to cool down the data centre," Kumar said.

More recently the 3i group helped convert a data-centre in India so that 30 per cent of its energy comes from recycled waste products from a nearby brewery.

"These are the sorts of innovations you need to think of; but they are location dependent, geography dependant, business model dependant, along with a whole lot of other factors," he added.

Mark Deguara, national product manager of Emerson Network Power believes Australian executives haven't traditionally prioritized environmental concerns.

But Deguara remains confident local ICT professionals can be sold on energy efficiency.

"A lot of corporates are driven by the dollar, that's just a function of being in business," Deguara said.

"But if you can show by being green that you can be more cost effective, I think others will stand up and listen."

Kumar thinks outside factors will soon force corporate heads to concentrate on energy efficiency, willing or not.

"Power providers are starting to double and triple what you pay for power," he said.

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