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Powering the data centres of tomorrow

Jimmy Yam, Vice President of Eaton’s Electrical Sector, East Asia | Jan. 5, 2017
As a result of the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) in everyday life, there has been an unprecedented rise in demand for data centres. This is especially so in Southeast Asia where the access to the internet and connectivity has risen over the years.

To make attaining these standards easier, companies should source for and use products that are already certified to a certain standard. For example, the usage of uninterruptable power system (UPS) products that have already received Sustainable Materials Rating Technology (SMaRT) certification from the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability (MTS), an internationally recognised standard for measuring product sustainability. Deploying products that already adhere to a set of sustainable guidelines helps to ensure that companies are using a cost-effective product that can reduce their environmental impact.

2. Smaller in size, but packs a greater punch

Limiting physical sprawl is one of the most important goals to developing sustainable data centres. The data centres of tomorrow will utilise technology that enables them to use space far more efficiently.

By deploying compact infrastructure resources through the use of the latest UPS products, for example, they can experience footprint reductions of up to 50 to 60 percent as compared to previous-generation models. Similarly, companies that operate their data centres at 400V can eliminate rack-level transformers, reducing their power distribution by 50 t 60 percent as well.

Another way to reduce the data centre's physical footprint and power consumption is to leverage cloud computing resources in data centres and outsource a portion of the company's computing requirements to an external cloud service. As cloud computing solutions deliver IT infrastructure, services and software over the web, no infrastructure is required on the user side beyond a web browser and high-speed internet connection. Cloud data centres also tend to be among the most efficient and sustainable facilities in operation today.

3. New is always better (at least for data centres)

The data centres of tomorrow will be equipped with the latest and most updated technology. Today's servers, storage hardware and communications gear are significantly more power efficient than comparable models of the past. In the 1990s, a typical UPS was generally only about 80 to 82 percent efficient under standard loading conditions. Fast forward to today and UPS models can routinely achieve 92 to 95 percent efficiency. By utilising UPS systems with advanced energy-saving capabilities, this number can increase to achieving 99 percent efficiency.

For data centres that are already established and in operation today, upgrading the UPS can both save money on electricity, as well as lighten their impact on the environment.

A renewed perspective on power sourcing

In the past, companies have traditionally cited high upfront costs as the most common barrier that prevents them from utilising renewable energy to power their data centres. However, following the Paris Agreement of October 2016, the 10 nations in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pledged their commitment to reducing carbon emissions. With increased government support, data centre providers in each of these countries will find greater incentive to search for alternative sources of energy to help reduce their impact on the environment.


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