Ok, so the title of my post may be a little drastic.... or is it? Last week our friends at ebmpapst hosted an event that addressed the issue of Greening the Data Centre, where I learned that on average, 50% of the energy used to power a data centre was from cooling it! So when it comes to impact on the environment, it appears that Data Centres are equally as bad for the environment as the aviation industry, and with the increasing requirement for datacoms, the situation is set to get worse.
So what's the answer and why is it a problem? Simply put, in order to function at maximum efficiency and not overheat and melt, servers and related IT equipment needs to be kept cool, and this isn't as easy as you think when you have alot of equipment running in close proximity of each other in an enclosed room (sometimes underground) for security. Short of building your data centre in a shed in the middle of the Arctic Circle and staffing it with Penguins, which I guess is possible, but from a practical sense, the data centre is probably too far from civilisation to give fast enough connections, and the Penguins may form a union and want to be paid in more than fish and go on strike...
The answer is in the better design of the layout of a data centre itself, and introducing more effective cooling technology. Companies like ebmpapst are hot on cooling technology and they have developed leading edge fans and motors with their GreenTech range of products. ebmpapst were the pioneers of EC Technology. EC stands for Electronically Commutated, and it combines AC and DC technology. EC motors run on DC voltage, but from a normal AC power supply, so EC motors can run at lower voltage but with better efficiency and ecology than AC ones.
By installing EC Technology into the data centres including the servers themselves, the energy bill of a data centre can reduce running costs in some cases by as much as 50%, EC motors also last longer and run quieter. So what's the catch? OK so they cost more, but the investment is soon recovered when you consider the reduction in running costs and longer lifetime, and with the trend for reducing your carbon footprint. the data centre clients can feel happier.