Gartner predicts that 75 per cent of organisations will have implemented a data centre infrastructure sustainability programme by 2027, up from less than 5 per cent in 2022. In a market disrupted by price fluctuations and supply constraints, organisations can achieve greater resilience and better risk management by optimising server utilisation and storage capacity. This includes organisations using renewable energy, generating their own power, and reusing and redeploying equipment as much as possible.
Aoife Foley, IEEE Senior Member and Professor in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast believes that poor storage practices or ‘dark data’ are a massive drain on resources.
“Dark data accounts for about 54 per cent of data that’s stored around the world, most of which has no function – all that data comes at a cost. When you look at the way the data is all gathered, it’s unstructured. Storing a massive amount of dark data wastes energy, most of which is powered by non-renewable resources. For example, in the United States, power consumption due to data centre data storage was estimated to be at 14 billion kWh in 2020 resulting in almost 6.5 metric tons of CO2 emissions.
“As this report outlines, achieving sustainability means addressing environmental considerations during solution design as well as during the build. Solutions must meet pre-defined and agreed environmental sustainability criteria. Sustainable data centres require designs that consider energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. Businesses and data centres should start by simply taking control of data storage, assessing the storage rules, and ensuring they are not holding data that is no longer needed.
“It is essential that leaders improve their data management policies, identifying which data is in fact valuable, and eliminating any dark or redundant data from their data centres to avoid emissions spiralling out of control and avoid unnecessary digital waste. Leaders should also enquire about their data centre provider’s multi-site footprint and its ability to enable distributed network availability and dynamic load placement. Identifying workloads that can be transferred from peak demand periods to off-peak hours ultimately results in lower costs for all parties.”