Data centres – greentelecomlive sustainable ICT and telecoms news and analysis Sun, 22 Jan 2017 14:37:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Big cloud names, White House launch climate impact planning tool Thu, 22 Sep 2016 17:35:31 +0000 A new initiative launched by the White House, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and the World Resources Institute has unveiled the Partnership for Resilience and Preparedness to help corporations make long-term plans to cope with climate change.

The initiative will tapped into big data analytics in an open-source platform to give interested parties access to climate data to develop solutions, resources, platforms that can help the world plan for potential impacts from extreme climate events, reported Environmental Leader.

“PREP will help companies manage the physical risks of climate change by providing easy access to location-specific data that can be integrated into planning, operational, and investment decisions,” said Janet Ranganathan, VP for science and research at WRI. “For instance, utilities will be able to access data on how droughts or sea level rise could impact planned power plant locations while manufacturers could assess the risks from more frequent and extensive flooding on their operations.”

The initiative will also partner with a large ecosystems consisting with commercial and public agencies, including White House Office of Science Technology and Policy NASA, NOAA, the US Global Change Research Program, the US Department of the Interior, Amazon Web Services, CARTO, Descartes Labs, Earth Knowledge, Esri, Forum One, Google Cloud Platform, Google Earth Engine and Vizzuality, as well as Earth Science Information Partners, Future Earth, Group on Earth Observations, IBM and Microsoft.
“Decision-makers today are facing increasingly complex challenges related to climate change,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist of Microsoft. “By making critical data both more accessible and rapidly available, we can accelerate the development of tools, such as PREP, that harness that data to empower communities to make smarter decisions.”
At its core, PREP will bring together disparate data sources to provide a dynamic, predictive, technology agnostic, platform based on the latest available climate data.
“Companies can use the data and resources already on the site,” Ranganathan added. “Over time we will add new data sets and functionality, including the ability to create personalized dashboards of climate risks. We will pilot the customized dashboard feature with a variety of users, including business. Given the work of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) we envision growing business demand for the type of data and resources provided on the PREP platform.”
According to the organisations, there is some urgency to the platform as the project frequency of extreme weather events such as major storms, floods and droughts are expected to increase 50% over the next 12 years.
Flexenclosure guest post: The Economics of Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) Tue, 01 Dec 2015 04:40:34 +0000 Guest post by Tomas Rahkonen, Chief Technology Officer & Vice President eCentre, Flexenclosure

Power usage effectiveness, PUE, has been an important metric in the data centre world for some time now.  Companies running data centre facilities typically strive for the lowest PUE they can achieve in order to reduce their operating costs and promote their green environmental credentials.

In an earlier article, my colleague Srikanth Murugan demonstrated how to cut through the marketing hype of competing claims about PUE performance.  I would now like to take the subject a little further and focus on the economics of PUE and how data centre vendors and operators can maximise their facilities’ performance.

Selecting the ideal location

Stable power grids, low energy prices and year-round access to “free cooling” drove a number of large Internet companies to build data centres in the Nordics where conventional wisdom dictated they could most easily achieve extremely low PUE values.  Google in Finland and Facebook at The Node Pole in Sweden are two such examples.  However, increasingly relaxed data centre temperature and humidity ranges – as defined by ASHRAE – have now made low PUE deployments possible for a much wider range of geographical locations.

Cooling developments

A key area of technical development here are evaporative indirect free air cooling systems, now available from an increasing number of cooling technology suppliers. Using an evaporative cooler, dry outside air of 32C can still be used to cool down air in the data centre to 22C, thus delivering meaningful savings from reduced electricity needed for powered cooling.

Even more exiting from an economic perspective is that, for some locations, this enables the use of outside air for cooling all year round, resulting in a lower maximum PUE and bringing significant capital expenditure (CAPEX) savings.

First, since free air cooling can be used 12 months of the year, the mechanical DX cooling (“air conditioning”) systems used to handle warm days can be down-sized.  In some cases it is possible to reduce the size of a DX back-up system from a facility’s full 100 per cent cooling requirement to simply providing a top-up corresponding to as little as 25 per cent of the total cooling needed. Additionally, a lower maximum PUE means that the maximum power consumed by the data centre is lower, allowing the electrical power system to be scaled down, thus further reducing data centre CAPEX.

Emerging markets

Another, perhaps less debated aspect related to PUE is electricity cost. Grid prices vary significantly between countries, and can make or break the business case for investing in a data centre with a low PUE. Further, in many emerging markets grid availability and stability is limited, resulting in data centres being powered by diesel generators for significant periods of time. This can range from a few hours per day to facilities being powered 24/7 with diesel gensets. And in addition to fuel costs, generators are also liable to significant expenses for servicing and replacement parts. The table below shows how the yearly site power cost varies depending on electricity cost ($/kWh) and data centre PUE value for a data centre with 1 MW IT load.

We can see that a reduction in PUE from 1.5 to 1.2 in a stable grid environment (0.1 $/kWh) gives a meaningful yearly operating expenditure (OPEX) saving of over $260K. For a diesel-operated data centre (0.3 $/kWh), the same level of OPEX saving is obtained by a much smaller reduction in PUE – from 1.5 to 1.4 for example – illustrating that the economics of PUE are even more important in emerging economies.

This is actually where it makes the best economic sense to consider different ways to reach a lower PUE, including hot/cold isle containments, higher data centre temperature, and high-efficiency modular power equipment.  In areas with high electricity costs, free air cooling systems should also be considered even if they are effective only during parts of the year or at night when external temperatures are lower.

Trade-off between PUE and redundancy

Notably, higher data centre redundancy (via a higher Tier rating) can lead to a higher PUE because power losses in each piece of equipment increase due to lower utilisation. With fully redundant power distribution (an “A” and a “B” side), the maximum equipment utilisation at fully built-out capacity is still only 50 per cent.  That said, modern modular power technology can provide high efficiency even at low utilisation with some modern uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems able to maintain high efficiency at utilisation as low as 25 per cent. So by starting off with fewer UPS modules slotted in, the system can be kept at high efficiency from day one and in this way modular power technology can contribute to improved economy through both lower day one CAPEX and lower operational cost.

Having built a large number of data centre facilities across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America – at Flexenclosure we have learnt that PUE-based investment business cases and their best technical approaches need to be adapted for each geographical location and data centre type.  A prefabricated data centre building with controlled airflows, such as eCentre, is always a good starting point.

Source: Flexenclosure

Amazon to boost renewable energy capacity to 1.6MWh Mon, 23 Nov 2015 03:22:52 +0000 Amazon Web Services have announced its 4th renewable energy project, a 100MW wind farm in Ohio that is expected to generate 320,000MWh of energy annually, or enough to power more than 29,000 US homes.

When it comes online in 2017, the new wind farm will bring Amazon’s total renewable energy generation capacity to 1.6MWh per year. The new project is part of AWS’s long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for its global AWS infrastructure footprint.

In April 2015, AWS announced that approximately 25% of the power consumed by its global infrastructure was from renewable energy sources with a goal of increasing that percentage to at least 40% by the end of 2016. As part of its renewable energy push, AWS continues to work on ways to increase the energy efficiency of its facilities and equipment, and to launch projects aimed at increasing the availability of renewable energy resources on the electrical grid that supplies power to current and future AWS Cloud data centers in Virginia and Ohio.

Specifically, in January 2015, Amazon announced a renewable project with the Amazon Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge) in Benton County, Indiana, which is expected to generate 500,000 MWh of wind power annually. In April 2015, Amazon announced a pilot of Tesla’s energy storage batteries that are designed to help bridge the gap between intermittent production, from sources like wind, and the datacenter’s constant power demand. Also in April 2015, AWS joined the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) and the U.S. Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance (US PREF) to work with state and federal policymakers and other stakeholders to enable more renewable energy opportunities for cloud providers. In June 2015, the company announced Amazon Solar Farm US East in Virginia, which is expected to generate 170,000 MWh of solar power annually. In July 2015, AWS announced Amazon Wind Farm US East in North Carolina, which is expected to generate more than 670,000 MWh of energy annually.

“We continue to pursue projects that help to develop more renewable energy sources to the grids that power AWS datacenters and bring us closer to achieving our long term goal of powering our global infrastructure with 100 percent renewable energy,” said Jerry Hunter, Vice President of Infrastructure at Amazon Web Services. “Our previously announced renewable energy projects put AWS on track to surpass our goal of 40 percent renewable energy globally by the end of 2016. This latest project, Amazon Wind Farm US Central, pushes our renewable energy percentage ever higher.”

Source: AWS

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IEEE pegs five core “smart cities” for R&D projects Wed, 04 Nov 2015 16:08:37 +0000 The IEEE is taking on the smart city challenge, naming five initial cities for initial research and development projects. The five cities are Guadalajara, Mexico; Wuxi, China; Trento, Italy; Casablanca, Morocco; and Kansas City, Mo. in the US.

The message was delivered by IEEE Smart City Initiative chair Gilles Betis at the IEEE’s first Smart Cities Conference at Guadalajara, also called Mexico’s “silicon valley.” The move brings the world’s largest professional association in the technology field with some 430,000 members across 160 countries behind smart city development.

At this point, there are no concrete guidelines for setting up smart cities. At the conference, topics covered include the environment, healthcare, Internet of Things, transportation, homes and buildings, open data, smart manufacturing and logistics, and smart grids.

Perhaps the sentiment is put best by IBM’s Doris B. Gonzalez, who noted “smart cities are so new, no one is an expert.” IBM is currently running a “smart cities challenge” program to determine the technologies needs of cities.

Source: IEEE plugs into Smart Cities movement | Network World

Virtualisation leads green IT spend: Kable Global ICT Intelligence Sun, 16 Aug 2015 14:52:32 +0000 Server virtualisation is considered to be the biggest green ICT activity by company IT departments, according to research by Kable Global ICT Intelligence.

A survey by the researchers on how companies are cutting emissions revealed that 68% of IT departments are using virtualised infrastructure as way to go green. The next most popular green ICT activity is ‘printing and paper usage management,’ (64%) then ‘storage virtualisation’ (61%).

Interestingly, arguably the most power intensive requirement inside an organisation – the datacentre, is only targeted by 56% of the respondents to the survey when it comes to improving efficiency and cooling.

The results were based on a survey of 2,685 IT professionals from organisations across the world.

Source: Server virtualisation leads world green IT spend – Computer Business Review

Flexenclosure deploys over 1000 hybrid power telecom sites in Myanmar Wed, 05 Aug 2015 13:34:53 +0000 eSite-Myanmar1Swedish green ICT infrastructure maker Flexenclosure has expanded its office in Myanmar, claiming rapid deployment of its eSite hybrid power system for off-grid sites and sites with unreliable grid supplies.

The eSites are part of Flexenclosure’s contribution to the government’s transformation of Myanmar’s infrastructure.

According to the firm, the Myanmar government has set a mobile phone penetration target of 75-80% by March 2016, up from only 10% in 2013. Flexenclosure has already deployed over 1,000 eSites in Myanmar and this number will rise in the coming months as the rollout continues.

”Myanmar is the last frontier in the Asia Pacific region for new mobile network and IT infrastructure deployment,” said Flexenclosure CEO David King. ”We consider Myanmar to be of key strategic importance and are expanding our operations there into a hub not only for our in-country projects but as a platform for our broader expansion across Asia Pacific.”

eSite is a hybrid power system for off-grid and bad-grid cell sites delivering 100% network uptime and diesel-related cost savings of up to 90%, Flexenclosure said. eManager, an all-in-one toolbox for site power infrastructure management, including remote monitoring, power optimisation, KPI reporting, and site logistics, is an integral part of the product.

At the same time, Flexenclosure also announced the opening of a new office in Mexico to target the Latin American region. In addition to eSite, the new Mexico City office will promote the company’s eCentre prefabricated datacentre solution.

“There is significant growing demand for prefabricated data centres across Latin America, driven by an exponential increase in colocation and cloud service providers as well as the specific needs of regional and multinational companies,” said King. “Having already established a strong presence in Africa and Asia, we see Latin America as the obvious next step in our continued global expansion with our eCentre data centre product.”

Flexenclosure's global presence

Source: Flexenclosure | Flexenclosure continues rapid global expansion with new offices in Mexico and Myanmar – Flexenclosure

Greenpeace “clicking green” report revisit Thu, 11 Jun 2015 09:45:42 +0000 Internet, Greenpeace, Google, Apple, Facebook, Equinix, Amazon, Microsoft, eBay, Yahoo, Salesforce, IBM, Digital Realty, HP, Oracle, Telecity

Greenpeace’s view of the carbon profile of the Internet’s hosting infrastructure

Above is a great visualisation of the carbon profile of the Internet’s hosting infrastructure from Greenpeace’s Clicking Green report. The data presents the level of renewable energy usage by the companies that deliver most of the applications and services, i.e. Apple, Google, Facebook, etc, and those that provide the physical locations to host those applications and servcies, i.e. Amazon, Equinix, and Digital Realty.

Apple topped the charts, according to Greenpeace, which gave the firm a full 100% in its company scoreboard on the use of renewable energy for data centres, and “As” for energy transparency, energy efficiency & mitigation, and renewable energy commitment, policy, deployment and advocacy. Interestingly, Apple wasn’t always the poster child for Greenpeace, which lambasted the iTunes operator for its energy policies a few short years’ ago.

In the latest Greenpeace report however, Apple beats second place Yahoo (73%) in the use of renewables by a wide margin, and is head over heels above other major Internet firms such as Facebook (49%), Google (46%), and Microsoft (39%).

The report also found a lack of progress towards the use of renewables for colocation companies. Digital Realty (18%), Telecity (18%), Equinix (15%), and Dupont Fabros (6%), all use renewable energy sparingly, relying on coal and natural gas for over half of its energy consumption.

As part of the report, Greenpeace also outlined key transactions by major ICT firms to purchased renewable energy. These include:

Renewable energy purchases by major ICT firms

Renewable energy purchases by major ICT firms

The extended report, which you can download at the end of this article, also makes some interesting insights, such as the fact that by 2017, 50% of the energy consumed by ICT will be from data centre and networks, compared to 35% in 2012. No doubt, services being increasingly deployed in the cloud is a major driver for this trend.

Get the full Greenpeace report here.

Smart microgrids to help data centers, farm communities use locally produced power Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:42:45 +0000 Installing smart microgrids can help big power consumers use energy generated locally, particularly those generated by renewable sources.

According to South Dakota State University assistant professors of electrical engineering and computer science department Wei Sun and Reinaldo Tonkoski, smart power management technologies will make it possible for communities and business to use locally produced wind and solar power, while still maintaining a consistent, reliable power system.

The key is to integrate renewable power sources with an intelligent power restoration system called a self-healing smart grid that can help prevent power outages.

The two researchers are developing a microgrid that allows data centres to use locally generated renewable energy. To ensure the reliability of power to data centres from varying output from renewables such as wind and solar, the researchers solved problems such as maintaining power system balance, and looked at new battery technologies.

In addition to allowing data centres to tap into renewable energy sources, smart microgrids can also be effective in supporting power to data centre sites without a reliable power grid, the researchers said.

Source: Smart microgrids to help data centers, farm communities use locally produced power

OptiBit develops new energy efficient fibre-based chip technology Mon, 18 May 2015 16:22:27 +0000 OptiBit, a start up made up of three graduate students from MIT, University of Colorado, Boulder and the University of California, Berkeley, has developed a new chip technology that promises faster processors at dramatically less energy consumption.

The startup won the MIT Clean Energy Prize with the patented technology.

According to BetaBoston, OptiBit is attempting to do to computer chips what telecoms operators are trying to do to the last mile. Alexandra Wright, a MBA student from MIT Sloan School of Managed and presenter for OptiBit, decided to deploy fibre to replace copper inside processors.

The researchers said the new solution offers 10x more throughput, 2x lower latency and 95% less energy than traditional copper-based chips. The project to develop the chip costs over US$20 million over the last 10 years, funded primarily via a grant from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Source: OptiBit’s energy-efficient computer chip wins MIT’s Clean Energy Prize | BetaBoston

Time for energy neutrality for the net – Greenpeace’s Annie Leonard Fri, 15 May 2015 00:56:26 +0000 Greenpeace

Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard

Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard argues that a healthy internet is not just neutral, but should also be powered by a neutral, as in non-monopolistic, energy infrastructure, preferably based on renewable energy.

“The Internet needs a lot of electricity, and its footprint is only growing as more people around the world get connected. If the Internet is powered by renewable energy, then it can help usher in the clean-energy revolution we so desperately need to avoid catastrophic climate change,” she wrote in an op-ed piece published in the Huffington Post. “This is a major opportunity, and responsibility, for Internet companies to join activists in a crucial fight.”

But while she acknowledged large Internet firms like Netflix, Amazon, and Microsoft have won their battle for net neutrality, monopoly electric companies are holding back the Internet from becoming green.

“Unfortunately, just as monopoly cable companies like AT&T and Comcast tried to hold us back from an open Internet, monopoly electric companies that are dependent on dirty energy want to hold us back from a green Internet. The data centers that power the Internet are concentrated in a few locations around the world, like North Carolina and Virginia, so much so that up to 70 percent of global Internet traffic passes through Northern Virginia every day,” she said.

“These are the places where the Internet “cloud” touches the ground; they are predominantly powered by coal, gas and nuclear power, and the utilities that make and sell the electricity there are monopolies like Duke Energy in North Carolina and Dominion Power in Virginia. These companies have fought tooth and nail against opening the market up to wind and solar power.”

According to Leonard, Amazon Web Services’ data centre in Virginia alone uses up enough energy to power 160,000 US homes. The problem is that the utility that provides electricity for the site, Dominion, generates its power “almost entirely by coal, gas, and nuclear energy.”

“Amazon will have to demand more wind and solar from Dominion and Virginia policy makers if it wants to make good on its 100-percent-renewable pledge,” she wrote. “Some companies have already done exactly this: Apple pushed its utility in Arizona to provide it with solar energy, and Facebook did the same thing in Iowa for wind energy. But these examples have been too few and far between.”

Instead of just demanding a policy to avoid “slow lanes” on the Internet, Internet companies “have the opportunity and obligation to join activists in the fight to avoid Internet ‘dirty lanes’, so that we can have an Internet that is free, open and green,” she said.

Source: Building the Green Internet: A Joint Venture for Tech Companies and Activists | Annie Leonard

More reading: Greenpeace’s new report, “Clicking Clean: A Guide to Building the Green Internet.”