As the world becomes more and more connected, more and more data is located in data centers, making it the virtual heart of every business. Social media, business systems, online shopping, gaming, airline industry, email, research and development are all housed in data centers, requiring a huge amount of storage and processing. Data centers also consume huge amounts of energy and are estimated to create around 3% of all global emissions, which is 50% more than the entire airline industry.
What challenges are data centers facing today?
Currently there are around 12 billion Internet-connected devices across the world, and this is expected to grow to 20 million by 2020 and 100 billion by 2025. The rise of artificial intelligence will require a further significant increase in the number of worldwide data centers, resulting in a growth of emissions from 3% today to an estimated 5.5% in 2025, more than any country except the U.S., China and India.
Like the information they support, data centers are changing faster than ever. The growing Cloud is pushing data center capacity to its limits, straining the entire associated chain of suppliers, builders, operators and power companies. And while many operators have risk management in place, the risks associated with climate change is likely more urgent and extensive than many have planned for, so risk management and resiliency plans are more critical than ever. As capacity increases, so too do energy and cooling requirements and associated costs.
What should data center operators be thinking about?
Energy consumption and emissions are both escalating at a fast pace so further improvements are required. Significant developments are needed from the IT equipment providers to reduce the energy consumption of the servers. Operators also need to focus on using cleaner and greener energy sources to power their data centers.
Some of the following actions can help data centers address challenges while maximizing savings and efficiencies and hasten sustainability transformation.