Why are data centres the engine room for sustainability?

Schneider Electric IT Australia

By Joe Craparotta, VP of IT Business at Schneider Electric
Wednesday, 17 November, 2021

Why are data centres the engine room for sustainability?

As Australia bets on technology for its net-zero ambitions, data centres are set to take centre stage.

Across almost every aspect of our lives, the reliance on data has been soaring in recent years. Investment in data centre infrastructure is only bound to grow exponentially. In Australia alone, there is another 2 GW of data centre capacity in planning or execution over the next three to four years.

As far as energy consumption is concerned, some recent reports modelled that data centre capacity could represent between 10 to 15% of our nation’s total energy consumption. Judging by some large campus-style data centres that are under construction in Western Sydney, the grid operator is predicting the percentage could go up to 40%.

Therefore, as organisations are marching towards their sustainability milestones, having clear plans that factor in data centre infrastructure will only help uncover potential shortcuts.

Not all of us have realised the critical role data centres can play in achieving sustainability, which is why I was delighted to have the opportunity to address the topic at one of this year’s French-Australian Chamber of Commerce (FACCI) Business Days events in Sydney.

Speaking to delegates from across the industry, we discussed how certain sectors are better at identifying and seizing green opportunities out of data centres than others, and how overall room for improvement is still huge.

Among the forerunners are large colocation centres and hyperscale cloud services providers. We work with them extensively to build out awareness and priority in their environmental sustainability goals. With more government regulations to come, this will only accelerate further.

Once we’re looking beyond those sectors, some major barriers emerge.

Firstly, it’s the lack of understanding, awareness and sense of ownership within corporate Australia. Instead of waiting for government regulations to appear, every CEO in the country should ask today if they currently measure the sustainability of their data centre, if they currently manage and measure its performance, and whether they have seen the sustainability credentials of their provider if their data is outsourced.

Those questions are relevant to every board or leadership team across all industries. Traditionally, businesses in banking and finance, retail, education and health care tend to be the main users of data centres. But nowadays, every organisation in Australia relies on a data centre, be it on their own premises (edge), a private cloud hosted in a managed service provider or a public cloud.

Secondly, when awareness is raised and ownership taken, organisations need to make sustainability a priority on their lists.

At a strategic level, a holistic environmental sustainability-driven data centre plan should centre around: 1) bold actionable strategy; 2) efficient data centre designs; 3) improved efficiency in operations; 4) renewable energy adoption; and 5) decarbonised supply chains.

Under those five pillars, an arsenal of tools are available to organisations. For example, to achieve efficient data centre designs, the digital twin design through ETAP is particularly powerful for both enterprises and hyperscale data centre providers.

As a market leader in data centres, we have developed and continue to innovate in all the technology components, systems, software and services that are core to a data centre. They range from connected products and the edge layer to the apps and analytics that support the operation and performance of a data centre.

We are also committed to delivering the most sustainable end-to-end solutions that provide the market with a clear roadmap to accomplish their sustainability goals.

Soon, we expect to see more sustainable, efficient, adaptable and resilient data centres opening their doors across Australia. The sustainability opportunities that come with them for organisations are simply unmissable.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/pressmaster

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