Interview with Schneider Electric on the Greening of Data Centers

In this interview with Green Business Singapore, Mr TS Khoo, Vice President of East Asia, IT Business, Schneider Electric, shares his thoughts on the greening of data centers and the trend of Data Center 2.0.

1) Tell us more about the rising trend of Data Center 2.0 and how it benefits both companies and the environment.

Data Center 2.0 is a term used to describe the next generation of data centers. This new structural breed moves beyond the bespoke, traditional builds and into the concept of pre-fabricated, modular and easily installed systems that are developed off-site.

In the current data center landscape, we’re witnessing IT infrastructure overwhelmed with business demands and companies are expanding their data centers to accommodate the increased IT strain.

Frost & Sullivan reports that the number of data centers is expected to grow at a rate of 11% per year, which will consequently lead to a sharp rise in IT costs and a steady increase in carbon emissions.

This constant expansion poses challenges for major East Asian cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo that don’t have the luxury of space and face high real estate costs. While grappling with the pressures of increasing demand due to massive data growth, enterprises also need to place a serious emphasis on optimizing their current floor space in data center facilities in these land-scarce cities.

So what’s the solution? To address this, enterprises can look at adopting modular or standalone data centers in new or existing projects to minimize space wastage. Modular builds are increasingly gaining popularity and traction among company IT decision makers because they are business savvy. Pre-fabricated systems have a greater emphasis on affordability, sustainability and integrated operations, which legacy data centers lack. In addition, they are also designed to suit both current business needs and cater for future business growth.

2) What are the challenges faced by companies in greening their existing data centers? What are some solutions or practical tips?

Data centers are power hungry machines. A 1 MW high availability DC consumes $20M worth of electricity in its lifetime. As a result, it can be challenging to find enough power to fuel a data center’s functioning.

Improving the energy efficiency of data centers is one of the top enterprise priorities and the subject of many discussions among executives. While there are low-cost tweaks companies can carry out to reap savings from energy efficiency, industry consultants emphasize that ultimately what is critical is having a holistic plan and proper assessment of steps to achieve overall data center efficiency.

By adopting energy efficiency implementations for their data centers, businesses can hedge against increasing energy costs and consumption and even save up to 90 percent of their electrical bills.

Not only that, but this importance to go green also goes back to a data center’s environmental impact. Frost & Sullivan state that “According to Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) estimates, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from global data centers sum up to 116 million metric tons, roughly equal to the amount of CO2 emitted by the entire Czech Republic. [1]”

Solutions and Tips

Simple no-cost decisions made in the design of a new data center can result in savings of 20-50% of the electrical bill, and with systematic effort up to 90% of the electrical bill can be avoided. For example, power management load shedding is a temporary way to realize $960 a year in electrical savings per KW of electrical consumption, but its CapEx and long-term infrastructure OpEx savings are insignificant.

Structural change through high-efficiency servers coupled with high-efficiency UPS right-sizing, by contrast results in data center infrastructure CapEx savings of $13300 (via reduction in equipment capacity) and $6600 in DCPI OpEx savings for the same kW or electrical consumption saved (via lowered operating expenses such as maintenance).

These are just a few ways to improve energy savings but the best way to increase data center efficiency is to conduct a holistic data center assessment and monitor and manage power from the point that it comes into the building, right down to the power at rack and row level.

Understanding the cost of energy and where it is being used is the first step in managing energy effectively. From here it is possible to benchmark usage, monitor trends and measure reductions in energy use (and corresponding cost savings) through the installation of greener data center technology that will pay itself off over a clearly measurable life cycle.

From a Schneider Electric perspective, we uniquely provide the end-to-end supporting architecture and “all-in-one” management software to ensure a company’s data center is business-wise and future driven, regardless of where you are in your data center’s lifecycle (e.g. New build, expanding or retrofitting). Our approach, also delivers the highest availability and energy efficiency.

As an end-to-end system that’s easy to deploy and manage, Schneider Electric’s data center physical infrastructure results in:

  • Reduced total data center life cycle cost of 13 percent, and 30 percent of the data center physical infrastructure cost over 10 years
  • Optimized data center availability from 99.9 percent to 99.999 percent
  • Faster and easier performance solutions
  • Reduced design and deployment time from years to just weeks
  • Advanced operations – energy saving simulation, workflow and lifecycle management

3) Do you see more companies in Asia adopting green data centers?

Green initiatives by government bodies, specifically targeting the data center, are something that we are witnessing in the more developed East Asia countries. However, in the region’s lesser developed countries, green IT is still in its infancy due to a lack of cohesive initiatives [2].

Looking at Taiwan, awareness of green technology is still relatively low. The Taiwanese government has been encouraging the market participants to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint. However there is no meaningful incentive being offered.

In more developed countries, the pressure to operate responsible organizations, coupled with the cost savings impact going green can have on an organizations’ bottom line, is also fuelling green data center growth.

In Singapore [2,3]:

  • All data centers in Singapore have an emphasis on Green IT and energy conservation.
  • The NTT Communications facility expects to obtain LEED certification as well as the BCA Green Mark.
  • SingTel’s KCTC-2 has received Gold rating from the BCA Mark scheme. It’s known to be one of the greenest data centers in the region.
  • Equinix is looking to achieve energy savings of up to 30 percent at its SG2 data center through automatic control of high efficiency fans as dictated by standby operation, room cooling or under floor static pressure.
  • Tata Communications Exchange’s data center offers co-location, managed hosting, and cloud services which is compiled to the BCA mark scheme.
  • The government has put in place initiatives to encourage data centers to go green under the national green data center strategy. These include:
    • Creation of a Green Data Center Standard
    • Creation of an isolated environment to test energy-efficient measures for data centers.

In China [2,3]:

  • Most of the green initiatives in China are focused on curbing carbon emissions, and the associated carbon costs of powering a data center.
  • Global Data Solutions Limited announced its plan to build 20 enterprise-grade “Green” data centers in China over the next three years, with a total investment of $588 million.
  • China Unicom has been testing green technology in select data centers, especially the recently launched ones. It includes free cooling, maximizing the capacity of racks, virtualization and data center automation management.
  • 21Vianet cooperated with KDDI to build a 47,000 square feet green data center, fully fitted with the latest energy-saving technologies such as liquid cooling.
  • In early 2011, Baidu, the largest Chinese Internet content service provider, announced the strategic planning to build up a large green energy efficient data center by 2014.

In Hong Kong [2,3]:

  • Wharf T&T has established a Green 2009 initiative, which includes green technology in data center operations.
  • CPCNet has been trying out free cooling as part of their green initiative.
  • NTT Taipo data center is built on a green site. Power saving practices and constantly evaluating the technologies has also been adopted, to keep PUE of approximately 1.8 as a baseline measurement.
  • NWT has adopted green technologies in data centers such as Cold/Hot Aisles Rack Layout and Smart Lighting Systems.

In South Korea [2,3]:

  • In 2009, LG U+ developed a power monitoring system by rack in-house to track electricity consumption and they implemented the latest cooling technologies to improve efficiency of its data center in Kasan.
  • In 2010, SK Broadband initiated the Green IDC 2.0 campaign to reach a PUE rating of 1.5 by establishing an automatic monitoring system to control power and cooling.
  • Under the green IT national policy the Korean government invested in KRW 4.2 trillion to reduce carbon emissions between 2009 and 2013.

4) Would you see the new BCA-IDA Green Mark for New Data Centers and the Energy Conservation Act nudging more companies to have greener data centers?

The BCA-IDA Green Mark and the Energy Conservation Act will definitely give companies more incentive to opt for greener data centers. However, the real driving force for companies going green is not only the combination of energy savings, CSR and regulation, but also energy efficiency. The question on how to make a data center more energy efficient is one of the most common forces steering companies to make the change.

In line with Schneider Electric’s business-wise and future-driven product offerings, we are also noticing that organizations increasingly understand that IT is an integral supportive part of their business. IT decisions are strategic business decisions that can have an impact on a company’s budget via an energy-efficient infrastructure and the prevention of costly downtime; performance, via the preservation of business essential uptime; and growth, via the ability to make informed decisions about the capacity to roll out additional IT equipment.

Companies are also gradually seeking a data center infrastructure that can adapt easily and quickly to ever-changing IT; business growth and its corresponding IT requirements; and dynamic business strategies, such as the move to virtualization.

With this in mind, organizations are driven by the dynamism of green data centers which are effective enough to drive both current business needs and also future ones.

[1] http://www.1-net.com.sg/pdf/1-Net_Go_Green.pdf

[2] Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Data Center Services Market Update 2010

[3] Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Data Center Services Market Update 2012: New Contenders Emerging on the Horizon

About TS Khoo

Khoo Teng Seen is the IT Business Vice President for Schneider Electric ASEAN. TS oversees the business strategy in ASEAN, ensuring that businesses across the region remain focused on customers and partners. He leads the team in developing customer-oriented processes, delivering innovative energy efficient solutions in data centres, and builds successful relationships with Schneider Electric’s stakeholders.

TS has 17 years of experience in the IT industry and almost 10 years in regional services management across the Asia Pacific region. TS joined Schneider Electric in 2006 and has held key appointments such as General Manager of Services, Asia Pacific and Vice President of Services for Asia Pacific/Japan, where he was integral in building, growing and transforming the services business on a regional level.

Prior to this, TS was the Director of Services in a multi-national corporation where he managed regional initiatives and assisted in the transformation of existing services. TS’s organizational and interpersonal skills has enabled him to improve the clients’ satisfaction level in the services that Schneider Electric renders and has created multiple opportunities for Schneider Electric to showcase its expertise.

With his vision and passion, TS leads the organizational ASEAN team with deep experience and collective commitment in strengthening Schneider Electric’s position as the Global Specialist in energy management.

About Schneider Electric

As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in Utilities & Infrastructure, Industries & Machines Manufacturers, Non-residential Building, Data Centers & Networks and in Residential. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, efficient, productive and green, the company’s 140,000 plus employees achieved sales of 30.8 billion US dollars (24 billion euros) in 2012, through an active commitment to help individuals and organizations make the most of their energy.

Source and Image: Schneider Electric

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