Leaders designing, building, and operating Data Centers around the globe continue to focus on reducing and ultimately eliminating environmental impacts from operations. This is obviously serious business, and is a problem that doesn’t have a singular approach, nor does the industry completely agree on the ultimate best approach(es). This isn’t to say the industry is stymied as it strives to deliver environmentally sound solutions, but it does suggest we have a long way to go to achieve the numerous and lofty goals.
During recent gatherings of those leaders, each of whom is determined to improve the environmental impact of Data Centers, some fascinating and even unconventional approaches were introduced. Topics focused on Sustainable Power Generation, the future of Diesel Generators, and Water Usage, and it is clear the focus is to ensure the Data Center industry stays clear of aggressive government regulations, environmental groups, and the ire of the general public – by making every move which improves the future.
The industry has been widely successful in curbing these criticisms in the past due to the actions it has taken over the past 15+ years to:
Admit its shortcomings.
Make sweeping and substantive changes to its consumption model.
It is not without its flaws, but industry leaders have been dedicated to this cause, and are consistently taking further steps in its evolution.
Some leaders are introducing plans to eliminate Diesel Generators across their future Data Center footprint. Not long ago, this would be viewed as a foolish move but is now applauded as innovative and aggressive. In today’s world, we need to continue to push thoughts beyond conventional thinking.
Would a slight increase in battery ride time accommodate most, if not all, power disruptions? Many large Data Centers across the US have been running for many years without requiring their Generators during an unplanned outage. As large-scale energy storage continues to advance, many are looking to add to their battery inventory and considering solar as the energy source – an entirely reasonable approach.
The Data Center industry is correctly focused inwardly on providing the expected service to the customer while eliminating negative impacts to the environment. The dialogue needs to broaden to include whether the customer expectation of 100% Data Center availability is legitimate or necessary. Some who considered not including Generators in past designs were forced to reinclude them based on the ‘perceived’ customer requirements. We need to consider opening the debate of balancing today’s availability expectations with the environmental improvement expectations.
Global Data Center leadership needs to remain energized to continue unveiling new techniques, technologies, and thought leadership to eliminate negative environmental impacts. At the same time, society may need to challenge its previous beliefs regarding availability expectations. This global problem requires an all-in response, across all sectors, including all parties.
Denis Weber is a Senior Data Center Consultant at EYP Mission Critical Facilities. Denis is a highly respected, executive leader with extensive expertise designing and managing highly available and environmentally sustainable Data Centers. He has a successful career optimizing the capabilities of existing facilities as well as designing and delivering many green- and brownfield Critical Facilities globally.
Denis has managed the global Data Center portfolio for The Walt Disney Co. and Verizon over the past 20+ years. Strict design principles, operating standards, and extensive personnel training are combined to ensure uninterrupted availability along with personnel safety while improving energy efficiency profiles of every Facility. Denis has an extensive history managing Data Center operations including power and cooling services, physical security, infrastructure maintenance and repair, space planning, equipment installations/ cabling, and business continuity/disaster recovery.