Energy use in data centers throughout APAC is rising to match skyrocketing demand. Take a look at some of the ways energy efficiency -- or the lack of it -- is affecting data centers and managed service providers in the region. Click on the infographic to view it full-size in another window.
(Download this infographic as a PDF)
Want to learn more? Download this case study and see how RF Code partner QDS was engaged by one of Hong Kong’s largest power companies to improve the energy efficiency of its data centers.
The infamous New York Times periodical The Cloud Factories was a tirade against the (supposed) modern equivalent of the coal power plant, the data center. The residing image was a hot, energy-waster, a vision that still remains today.
This is a misplaced example of misrepresentation and inaccurate press sensationalism. It demonstrates that the public, press included, understand little about how data centers function, are regulated and the drivers behind improvement. In the past facilities were wasteful and some still consume significant amounts of energy, but inefficiency is becoming a thing of the past.
The data center sector is striving to improve its long-term impact through globally coordinated regulation, efficiency strategies and operational transparency. Change is occurring at all levels. Facebook has made its data center design and operational systems open to public scrutiny, renewable energy is now a real fuel alternative in certain regions, and compliance is keeping the heat on businesses rather than their IT equipment.
The sheer level of change occurring highlights the united front against environmental damage and financial waste.
Regulation is the first step behind any shift in operational process, which is why the U.S. Department of Energy has committed to educate federal data center operators around environmental best practice. This centralized governance intends to reduce energy usage 20% by 2020. If the initiative is effectively adopted, energy savings could reach 12 billion KWh/year, 2% of the entire country’s annual lighting volume ($2 billion potential savings).
Data centers have a social responsibility to slash their power intake, as current usage levels are unsustainable. Global energy consumption is expected to reach 41.86 quadrillion BTU in 2014 (U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)), a 1% increase over 2013; the equivalent of 8 trillion gallons of gasoline or 36 million tonnes of coal.
That is why other regions focus on hard compliance. The EU Commission’s 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive came into force in June, leaving facilities little choice but to invest in technology-led strategies to drive efficiencies across the IT environment. The aim mirrors the DoE; a 20% reduction by 2020 across all sections of the energy distribution chain.
For the UK it is money driving action. The Climate Change Agreement of December 2013 has pushed co-location companies to improve their environmental footprints through financial incentives, a feat made possible by sensor networks that generate real-time visibility. As the report states, “If data centers do not meet targets, they pay the government £12 per tonne of CO2 by which the target has been missed. The financials are quite obvious.”
The Wider Benefits
Organizations have the opportunity to lead by example. Boardrooms do not want to be labeled inefficient and increased competition is leading many businesses to think strategically. They are driving IT to undertake a programme of data center optimization, especially as the positive business outcomes stretch further than green credentials and PR exposure.
ASHRAE guidelines state that a single degree Fahrenheit increase in the data center can yield yearly savings of 2% and when you spend $80 million a year on power like CenturyLink does, that 2% offers vast commercial and reinvestment potential. The average data center could increase temperatures by 10 degrees. That is millions waiting to be put back on the bottom line.
Other examples include Digital Fortress, whose co-location operations are now environmentally stable. With real-time RF Code data, customers have insurmountable proof it is meeting SLA requirements and of its own facility’s sustainability. Elsewhere a leading Hong Kong power company is passing on its savings directly to customers now it has greater operational control.
This should be the image of data centers: serving mankind, not harming it. They do more for our every day existence than nearly any other sector and deserve celebration. Throughout their lifespan, facilities generate thousands of jobs, help local economies and improve our lives. That is a story worth writing about.
Note: An edited version of this piece was published in IQ by Intel on October 1, 2014 as "Are You Data Center Dependant?"
Last month a 6.1 magnitude earthquake rocked Napa reminding California, home to the world’s leading data-reliant organizations, of Mother Nature’s destructive potential.
It was a stark warning of the damage that can be caused by forces outside our control, especially to the data centers we rely on. Currently there are over 500,000 critical facilities supporting our lives. The strain on them will only increase as the Internet of Things (IoT) drives the rapid proliferation of personal, community and corporate digital technology.
Something has to change. We must become more informed about the importance of data centers in our lives. The press has no trouble writing about them, but for all the wrong reasons. The majority of column inches focus on how dirty and polluting they are, when, in reality, no other industry is doing more to clean up its act through regulation and energy efficiency.
Today, every part of our lives is dependent on data centers. Our daily social media interactions, the transport infrastructure we depend on, the accessibility and management of personal and corporate finance, and the provision of our power and utilities. Everyone should understand how critical these facilities are to our daily activities.
Data Center Dependence
The financial sector is all too familiar with this challenge. IT issues and data center outages cost banks billions of dollars in lost revenue and fines every year. This impacts investor confidence and results in short-term sector instability but it is the public that has to live with the overall fallout.
Those on vacation are stranded without money, salaries cannot be paid and mortgage approvals falter, preventing thousands from moving home. Our world grinds to a halt, as explored in Intel’s own Food. Water. Datacenter. spoof video.
The truth is less amusing for those bearing the brunt of outages. HSBC, Bank of America, RBS and Natwest have all experienced recent IT failures at the expense of their customers and bottom lines.
Disruption like theirs highlights just how fragile the global economy is and how the most mundane activities are completely driven by data.
Moving People By The Billions
The water and power distributed to your home is routed by data centers. Traffic lights, train signals, bus routes, even the live traffic information delivered to your car, are reliant on data center facilities.
Even Google with its ambitious automated car vision should be concerned. Its new driverless cars generate over 1GB a second through advanced image collection and processing technologies. Multiply this by how many cars Google expects to manufacture and the mountain of data becomes unfathomable. If the data center does go down, your car is nothing more than somewhere to stay dry while you wait for a bus!
The same pressures apply to airlines. Planes only earn money when in the air and if a carrier is already posting massive annual losses of $2.8 billion, mass delays only add to the financial strain. Qantas experienced this when it grounded 400 flights due to check-in failure. It ruined thousands of vacations because its data center did not have a contingency plan for the leap-second bug.
Closer to home is your daily shopping routine. If Amazon has issues during the festive period it isn’t just your family’s Christmas that is ruined, but the company’s bottom line as well. Last year it took the company just 49 minutes of downtime to lose $4 million in sales, while a similar half-hour data center incident saw $65,000 hemorrhaged every minute. This is not a financially sustainable business strategy, nor does it win customer loyalty.
The New Age of Terror
Emerging technologies highlight how exposed the modern world is. In the age of terror, data centers have replaced power stations and airports as strategic targets. Deliberate outages already happen regularly. The whole of Syria was taken offline in 2013 when the government blocked external communications services. Iraq, North Korea and Sudan saw the same treatment at the hands of insurgents and their oppressive regimes.
Data is no longer a commodity but a priceless asset upholding national security. Even when intentions are not sinister, events out of our control are unavoidable. Level 3 Communications famously cursed squirrels in 2011 for chewing cables, a pest that was responsible for almost 20% of outages. The undersea cables that carry data traffic between continents are even more susceptible; a regular target for hungry sharks and clumsy ships.
Most major governments and businesses are waking up to data security. The most famous example is Visa’s Operations Center East with an address ‘somewhere on the Eastern seaboard’. A genuine fortress with 130 former military personnel guarding its grounds, it has a moat and hydraulic bollards that can be raised to stop a car traveling at 50MPH.
Putting Our Lives In Digital Hands
The data center is now omnipresent and its significance in our personal and professional lives cannot be overstated. From a misplaced server holding financial data to the loss of Netflix on a Sunday afternoon, data centers are now symbiotic entities we cannot separate ourselves from.
They will only increase in importance as the last non-digital services are disrupted by technology. Gartner predicts more than $143 billion will be spent on data centers globally this year. Given their monumental importance, this seems like money well spent.
This week RF Code is pleased to feature a guest blog by Dr. Magnus Herrlin, President of ANCIS Inc. Prior to establishing ANCIS, Dr. Herrlin was a Principal Scientist at Telcordia Technologies (Bellcore) where he optimized the network environment to minimize service downtime and operating costs. His expertise has generated numerous papers, reports, and standards,
You might ask yourself what data, metrics, and training may have in common in the data center domain. Data is everywhere and increasingly so. The goal of collecting data is to do something intelligent with them, at least eventually. Metrics are fantastic tools to compress a large amount of “raw” data into understandable, actionable numbers. However, data and metrics alone will not necessarily make us design and operate data centers in a more energy efficient way. The missing link is training of those involved in the design and day-to-day operation of the data center.
We have the capabilities to collect a nearly endless amount of operational infrastructure data. Specifically, many Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) offerings have that capability when linked to a sensor network. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling has a similar data-handling challenge. On the infrastructure side of the business, the data we are talking about are those related to energy and those related to environmental conditions in the equipment space. The data can be collected with wired or wireless technologies and linked to a DCIM software. Of utmost importance is that the collection and software technologies are flexible. Data centers are dynamic environments, which require frequent reconfigurations of the data collection system. Many of the commercial data collection systems are phenomenal data-generating machines.
But data alone is not sufficient for allowing operational efficiency. The growth of the DCIM market have not met the industry projections a few years back. One reason may be that the DCIM vendors have been less than successful in communicating the benefits of their systems. Another may be that the industry is young and poorly organized/standardized. But the lack of tools to convert raw data into actionable information, which the user actually can use to improve the operation of the data center, may also be a major contributor to this slow growth.
Metrics are fantastic tools for compressing a large amount of data into useful numbers. A metric is typically calculated with a formula, generating an output that is simple to understand. Raw data often requires analysis and interpretation to make it useful. “Rich” data on the other hand can be used for predicting, planning, and decision making. And well selected metrics help produce rich data.
Since a metric generally is a single number, it can also easily be tracked over time. After all, how do you effectively track 200 or 2000 raw data points over time? Tracking performance is imperative because it shows progress (or lack thereof). And don’t underestimate the business value of this data: the guy in the corner office simply loves this type of information.
Maybe the most well-known metric in data centers is the Power Utilization Effectiveness (PUE). It is a measure of the energy (not power) premium to condition the equipment space. A PUE well above 1 means a large infrastructure overhead, whereas 1 would mean no overhead whatsoever. Clearly, to be able to calculate this single-number metric requires raw data as well as some data analysis (using a formula).
Energy efficiency needs to be balanced with equipment reliability, which generally has higher priority for data center owners and operators than energy efficiency. It’s a balancing act. An important part of equipment reliability is the air intake temperatures. The trick is to increase intake temperatures and thereby decrease energy costs without risking equipment reliability. In other words, energy and thermal management. Several organizations have developed guidelines for intake temperatures, for example, ASHRAE and NEBS.
Leading network services provider CenturyLink set out to find a way to cut the spending on energy and cooling. But, without appropriate monitoring and analysis, increased temperatures could lead to costly equipment failures. Based on a pilot project with the environmental monitoring and asset management company RF Code, CenturyLink is projected to save nearly three million annually at full implementation by balancing the temperature increase with equipment reliability.
There are plenty of intake temperatures in a data center. To be exact, everywhere there is a cooling fan on a piece of equipment. Even a fairly small data center has the capacity to produce data that becomes next to worthless without data management. One metric that was specifically designed to help with such data overload is the Rack Cooling Index (RCI). It is a metric for showing compliance with the ASHRAE and NEBS temperature guidelines. An RCI of 100% means perfect compliance. RF Code’s software used by CenturyLink automatically calculates this metric to help ensure thermal compliance.
There are a number of training opportunities for the data center industry. I will limit myself to a training program called the Data Center Energy Practitioner (DCEP) program. It was developed by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office in partnership with industry stakeholders. This certificate training program for data center energy experts has now been re-initiated with help from the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and three professional training organizations. A number of training dates are upcoming across the country, beginning on October 27, 2014 in New York.
The main objective for the DCEP Program is to raise the standards of those involved in energy assessments of data centers. Training events, lasting one, two, or three days, prepare attendees with the significant knowledge and skills required to perform accurate energy assessments of HVAC, electrical, and IT systems in data centers, including the use of the DOE DcPro suite of energy-assessment software tools. The energy efficiency at day 1 will unquestionably decline over time if the staff does not understand how the energy and environmental systems are supposed to work. The more sophisticated systems, the more need for trained staff.
For more information about the DCEP training, please visit DOE’s Center of Expertise for Data Center Energy Efficiency in Data Centers. This website also maintains a list of over 300 recognized DCEPs, who are available to perform standardized energy assessments.
With flexible data collection, efficient data management, powerful metrics, and trained staff, we can actually do something useful with the data. Nice!
Get a closer look at how CenturyLink used intelligent sensor networks to drive data center efficiency and savings: Watch this presentation by CenturyLink's Joel Stone and John Alaimo today!
This was a lesson Digital Fortress quickly learned when a $60,000 air conditioning unit was leaking silently, spilling over 25 pounds of refrigerant across the data center. Its own systems showed 100% efficiency, the reality was the opposite. Failure was imminent.
It is an all too common story for co-location companies. They default to ‘hope’ as a strategy, believing a facility will continue operating stably, rather than investing in solutions that prove it is to customers with cold-hard data.
As a co-location provider, your business is built on your reputation. Facility efficiency, thermal governance and ensuring availability keep your bottom line healthy. If a server fails, your business can fail. As Scott Gamble, Digital Fortress’ IT Manager says, “ten minutes can be the difference between things being OK and a serious problem.”
Digital Fortress depends on this sensitive balance. Its customers expect it to provide adequate power and cooling as well as 100% visibility about co-located assets.
Shoring up the Fortress’ Defenses
Digital Fortress adapted its management model to ensure disaster situations like the above would never happen again. Customers had already begun requesting real-time data about facility conditions. They wanted to know that Digital Fortress’ environment could cope with current and future capacity.
With RF Code sensors, Digital Fortress was able to provide clear intelligence about current conditions. But the benefits go much further than just meeting customer requests. Digital Fortress can:
- Assure customers that assets are safe, stable and located within an intelligently run facility
- Pursue a strategy of disaster prevention and avoidance, rather than recovery
- Drive efficiency improvements and cost savings across the entire business
- Effectively manage capacity and associated environmental conditions
- Eradicate temperature fluctuations and accurately detect leaks and other complications
Outcomes like these are only possible with a solution like ours, where advanced software capabilities combine with sensor instrumentation to provide a complete and live overview of the full environment.
Integration with other systems is critical for guaranteeing complete operational control - facilities management; traditional DCIM; power, water and cooling distribution - something Digital Fortress has already implemented – BMS; enterprise resource planning platforms -- all are necessary.
Digital and Financial Results
It took just 6 days for Digital Fortress to realize the benefits of RF Code. Gamble was able to single-handedly deploy the solution, creating positive results like:
- Leak detection, insight that was acted upon instantly for disaster prevention
- Eradication of an 11 degree temperature fluctuation
- Holistic view of the overall environment for increased efficiency
- Simplified cooling and energy configuration and management
- A significant reduction in energy usage and maintenance costs
According to Gamble, most beneficial was C-level buy-in and financial sustainability: “[Senior management] didn’t want a giant bill all at once. They wanted to know that they could invest a little at a time over the course of the year. It helps with spending. It helps with the budget.”
This financial clarity has resulted in Digital Fortress choosing to invest in our personnel tracking solutions in the near-future, which will give it both operational and physical security. “Security is a big concern for us and while all our vendors have been vetted, it is always good to have that kind of visibility into where people are at any given time,” concluded Gamble.
To learn more about Digital Fortress’ success with RF Code, read our case study. Its story was recently covered in the RFID Journal.
Enterprises are suffering from an intelligence crisis. They have been blinded by the mythical promises of Big Data. Regularly heralded by advocates as instrumental to corporate success, the relentless pursuit of new data sources and huge data pools have led many organizations to lose focus of more achievable strategic objectives.
Businesses already possess a massive amount of untapped wealth but it is sitting dormant in the data center, its opportunities unrecognized. Real business value can be generated from these resources, not by thinking as largely as possible.
Invest in your data collection methods, implement effective governance and management processes and focus of advanced, automated analytical capabilities. That is thinking ‘big’ in the smart way.
Size Doesn’t Matter
451 Research highlights this in its latest report addressing RF Code’s future. It echoes our CEO that the data center has the potential to become the hub of all strategic decision making, but only if you bring your software and hardware capabilities together.
Analyst Rhonda Ascierto cites RF Code as an example, “RF Code’s data management and analytics layer acts like an enterprise service bus (ESB) for the data center, enabling bi-directional communications with other software, including DCIM, business process management and IT service and systems management."
Integration is critical. Isolated systems cannot provide value unless they have other sources to correlate their intelligence with. Enterprises are waking up to this concept, as is the DCIM industry.
Change begins with the data created by the facilities themselves. The DCIM market – which according to Gartner will reach $1billion this year - is ripe for major innovation and RF Code is leading the industry.
We are already responsible for helping the largest companies in the world manage the data produced by their facilities. We are now building on that legacy to leapfrog traditional DCIM.
Our unique instrumentation layer combined with our new software capabilities provides enterprises a complete platform to create the agile facilities they want and need. This is an advantage RF Code customer CenturyLink has already discovered.
CenturyLink: An $80 Million-a-year Example
CenturyLink is already helping its customers execute their own data-driven business strategies, but managing a 55-strong-facility footprint comes at a heavy price: an annual energy bill of $80 million.
The company’s IT team knew its internal data held the answer. It recognized that a controlled raising of server intake temperatures could produce multi-million dollar savings but the team lacked the necessary instrumentation and software capabilities to achieve its objectives.
RF Code’s environmental sensors were the answer. They allowed CenturyLink to carefully monitor its temperature adjustments in real-time. Once the management team had proof its adjustments were sustainable, it integrated RF Code’s data with its own building management system (BMS) and automated the new airflow processes to continue slashing its expenditure.
This methodology is now being rolled out across CenturyLink’s entire data center footprint. Savings are projected to reach over $15million by 2017, $2.9million of which are from the first year with RF Code.
Those are big savings from small data. To learn more about RF Code’s software-driven future, read the latest 451 Research report.
According to Synergy Research Group the retail co-lo market grew 8% in 2013. As enterprises continue their relentless move towards cloud IT, co-location space is being snapped up. This is an unsurprising figure.
The second largest provider of co-location and hosted IT space in the report is CenturyLink; the same CenturyLink that is now an RF Code customer.
With RF Code the company is saving millions of dollars in power and cooling.
CenturyLink’s objective was simple: drive energy efficiency and reduce its massive power bill. Prior to the RF Code deployment it was spending over $80 million a year on electricity.
Based on its current data center footprint (55 data centers in North America, Europe and Asia) and energy cost predictions, it identified annual savings of $2.9 million. Action was crucial for the company’s bottom line.
First, The Results
Joel Stone, CenturyLink’s Vice President of Global Data Center Operations and John Alaimo, CenturyLink Data Center Systems Engineer set a goal of raising server inlet temperatures to a more financially sustainable 75°F.
RF Code sensors were deployed at a 65,000 square foot pilot site to monitor thermal conditions as the team slowly and safely increased temperatures. Annual savings in the first year were $120,000, a return on investment within just 11 months.
Once they were sure their changes were sustainable, the company began implementing RF Code sensors across the rest of its global data center footprint, including 11 sites during 2014.
CenturyLink is forecasting savings of $1,205,000 for this year alone, with savings accruing each year thereafter. The full benefits include:
Projected annual savings of over $15,000,000 by 2017 if current deployment schedule is kept
Thousands of additional hours of free cooling through use of Economizer windows
RF Code data allows automated environmental management and monitoring across facilities
When necessary, full integration with BMS for greater control of thermal conditions
But it isn’t just CenturyLink that benefits, as echoed by Alaimo, “The benefits are not only cost related. We can now demonstrate we are meeting our SLAs because we have so much more data within our facilities. We are able to mitigate risks and have greater visibility of the environment.”
General Co-Lo Trends
As the market matures, co-location customers are becoming more demanding. Providers are now more accountable for their facilities than ever before. There is no hiding behind the cloud.
Our Digital Fortress case study demonstrated this. Like CenturyLink, the company implemented real-time monitoring capabilities not only for its own operational sake, but for its customers. It recognized that the benefits of doing so far outweighed the act of doing nothing.
Deploying a system that delivers 100% visibility of the data center environment generates hard statistical evidence that service level agreements are being upheld. Customers no longer have to trust a provider’s word; they have insurmountable proof, as does senior management and the financial department.
Customers can see in real-time that their business-critical IT is running efficiently and safely. Any financial savings generated can be returned to the customer through billing reductions or other commercial benefits.
Read about the CenturyLink deployment in more depth in our new case study here.
Our previous discussion around wearable technology and its potential impact on the data center raised some important questions around always-on sensor networks, the Internet of Things (IoT) and intelligent infrastructure.
The Internet of Things is not a passing fad. USA Today recently highlighted its importance and the growing number of applications for sensor networks. They range from the every day mundane to city-scale efficiency improvements.
Sensors are everywhere. From the clever Tile sensor that keeps everyday items in check, to the health-monitoring band on your wrist; from GE Healthcare tracking life-critical equipment and patients, to China using sensor technology to more intelligently manage urbanization.
Sensors are helping prevent suicide in prisons, they are making our rivers cleaner and they are making our buildings more environmentally friendly, including the world’s data centers.
From a corporate perspective, they are driving greater operational efficiency, allowing enterprises to save massive amounts of money and helping improve the quality of service delivered to customers, as our recent case study for one of Hong Kong’s leading power companies demonstrates.
Coming Together Under One Intelligent City
The numbers around sensors are staggering. VisionGain puts the wearable sector at $5 billion, the broader IoT landscape is nearer $1.5 trillion (MarketsandMarkets) and sensor-supported smart cities are at a similar level of investment (Frost and Sullivan).
This is not surprising. The world’s population passed 7 billion in 2012. A billion more people are expected to be alive in 2025, 60% of which are expected to be living in urban environments; by 2050 70%.
As urbanization continues and communities become increasingly reliant on the benefits sensor networks bring, investment will only surge one way - upwards. This isn’t a future concern but one that needs addressing now. The world today needs greater efficiency in how its transport networks, logistics infrastructure, public services and healthcare are run.
The good news is that Big Data and sensors are changing lives for the better already. Santander’s deployment of 20,000 sensors in Spain to monitor and reduce air pollution levels is helping improve citizens’ quality of life.
Helsinki’s government has used Big Data to overhaul the efficiency of its public bus network, saving 5% in fuel costs through more intelligent routing and bus maintenance – a percentage that yields vast commercial benefits considering the number of vehicles in the fleet. This money can then be reinvested to further improve services.
France is experimenting in reducing energy usage in homes through intelligent monitoring. Ecuador is investing $1 billion in a high-tech city that will adapt to residents’ needs.
There are many other examples. The cities we live in, our interaction with the world and the data infrastructure that supports everything is shifting at a seismic rate. Sensors are here to stay and will only become more critical as urbanization continues.
Big Data applications and any improvements do however rely on one key component: the world’s data centers running flawlessly. If uptime drops, customer opinion will suffer, and as we become more reliant on data-driven technology, people’s lives could be put under threat.
The data center of the future must be secure, commercially aligned, thermally efficient, optimized, compliant with international data, energy and carbon regulations and support the businesses, services and people that rely on it entirely.
To learn how one core public service provider did just that, read our latest case study here.
It places number four on IMD’s annual world competitiveness report, has a population of over 7 million, is the most high-rise dense city globally and defines APAC commerciality across the world.
The continued global recovery is dependent on Hong Kong. It controls the global-recession busting growth figures evident in the region. Its sustainability as a financial world player relies entirely on its data centers. They are its lifeblood, but also one of its most significant challenges.
The power demands of a world center of finance are massively expensive. Efficient power generation and distribution against the backdrop of rising energy costs has put Hong Kong and mainland China’s energy corporations in the spotlight.
Globally people are consuming more energy than ever before. The US Energy Information Administration expects global use to rise by an astronomical 56% by the year 2040. That’s the equivalent of 4,000 power plants.
Identifying efficiencies can transform the bottom line of an energy company instantly and significantly. Inefficient systems and processes already add millions of dollars of needless expense to budgets. This cannot continue.
As power becomes scarcer, more expensive and transforms into a near-priceless commodity, citizens will expect governments to compete on a macro level and accommodate their energy requirements. Energy sustainability will quickly be an issue affecting everyone.
The Stirred Dragon
These challenges are already evident in Hong Kong and China. The dramatic growth of power use within Hong Kong is a direct result of emergent data technologies. Businesses and the consumer landscape have pushed the city, known for its technological leadership, towards an always-on culture severely reliant on power and data infrastructure. The 24/7 financial demands of the city place further pressure on its energy companies.
Data center growth in Asia as a whole is exploding as more than half the world’s population (estimated at 4.4 billion) catches up with the West with technology, digital culture and general infrastructure improvements.
Equinix’s capital expenditure in Hong Kong reached $150 million this month with the expansion of its latest Tsuen Wan facility. SoftLayer, IBM’s infrastructure arm, pledged $1.2 billion for facilities in key financial centers, including Hong Kong. China Unicom has invested $3 billion into an integrated telecommunications facility in the region to support its soaring user base.
Analyst figures mirror this. Frost & Sullivan values the Hong Kong data center market at $802 million by 2019. These are huge numbers that need to be paid attention to.
Power Driving Power
With statistics like this, it is crucial that energy companies have resilient, optimized infrastructures that support their complex operational requirements.
Scaling power in real-time and retaining enough capacity to ensure services, is not just mission-critical for Hong Kong’s energy companies, but critical on a global scale.
Behind the intelligent generation of power is IT and the data centers of power companies. As energy distributors look to enhance and drive greater efficiency across their operations, they require agile IT and data center infrastructure to support their objectives.
Efficient urban energy management is mirrored by efficient energy control within the data center.
Implementing visibility measures and identifying immediate thermal and power-related concerns – as well as predicting future trends - allows management to maximize budgets and guarantee operational redundancy. Disaster avoidance is essential in the context of power distribution. Power cannot fail.
Costs Against Distribution
The age of cheap power in Asia is ending. Shanghai Grid announced a 10% increase across its network last year. PetroChina is raising its oil prices drastically. Power companies, if they are to remain competitive for consumers, have to deliver commercial improvements elsewhere in their operations. The data center offers the perfect opportunity.
As Zhu Hua, Tencent’s Senior Data Center Architect and member of the China Data Center Committee highlighted recently, the vast cost savings possible are obvious. “For instance, for a data center with 100,000 servers, if electricity prices drop by a PUE of 0.1, it will help the data center save 12m CYN (almost $2 million) a year.”
One of Hong Kong’s leading power companies recognized similar potential efficiency improvements in its own data center and with the help of RF Code optimized its operations to cut its current power requirements.
This involved bringing it in line with globally recognized ASHRAE guidelines, an environmental monitoring solution that took a single day to deploy and the rectification of thermal complications that would have, if left unaddressed, caused the facility to fail.
Read about how the company achieved this in our new case study and follow RF Code on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates on the Asian data center market and rising global energy crisis.
The first generation of Google Wear technology was released last week, bringing with it a new era of interaction, connectedness and in the long run, potential strain on the world’s data centers.
As smartphones have become ubiquitous and lost their excitement factor, phone manufacturers are searching for new ways to increase their sales bases. As consumers claw for a simpler, more natural user experience, wearable technology presents one of the largest opportunities.
It is clear that strapping technology to our bodies is more than a fad, a major technology market with the power to change how we interact with the world.
Wearing With Pride
Last year’s Juniper Research report estimated that by 2018, $19B will be spent on devices that interact with our phones. This estimation is certainly mirrored by Google’s desire to integrate Android into everything; Google Wear, Google Glass, NEST.
Early devices like Pebble have shown there is a desire for wearable technology, but the real growth at this early stage – and threat to the data center – looks to be through specialist wearable technology which answers specific questions on people’s wellbeing.
Health sensors have exploded in popularity the last 18 months. There is no indication that demand will slow. Mirroring the above Juniper figures, a similar report by MarketsandMarkets put the consumer healthcare sensor at nearly $50B by 2020.
Products like the Fitbit activity tracker and Jawbone Up definitely suggest early market estimations are on-trend. Over 3 million Fitbits were sold in the US last year. Jawbone acquired BodyMedia last year for $100 million. These are big numbers for a fledgling market.
Connecting Your Body
As the technology itself continues to improve and the stigma of wearing technology subsides, growth will continue, and with it, the continuous flow of data being sent to data centers.
Product advancements have already increased the volume of data being generated by wearable devices. Early-stage products used to require manual syncing, but now everything is constant and automated. Data from millions of sensors will keep flooding into data centers in increasing amounts.
The development of Bluetooth Low Energy standards will only add to the vast amount of data piling into the business-critical facilities of the world’s largest data-driven companies.
The list of Bluetooth Smart Ready products (which include scales, proximity sensors, heart rate monitors, breathalyzers, blood pressure monitors, pedometers and other metrics) is growing daily as consumers become more inclined to monitor their health analytically. Data is no longer something confined to IT, but a core part of how many of us choose to live our lives.
Behind The Scenes
Advancements in the battery technology that supports mobility will further open up a world where people no longer reach for their pockets, but sensors reach out to owners.
This expectation of an always-on, ever-connected life brings with it a specific set of data-driven financial and IT challenges. Wearable technology will become a critical issue for those managing the infrastructure powering this new world.
The Data Center Journal already noted six months ago that a wearable reality has already arrived. Worryingly for companies moving into the market, its growth has the capability to damage data center sustainability, reliability and service levels.
Organisations are only just beginning to grasp the data challenges led by mobility, smart devices and mobility, so the prospect of another two disruptive markets on the horizon - wearable technology and the Internet of Things – poses significant risks to those behind the commercial-dependent data infrastructure that supports everything.
In a future blog on the topic, we’ll address what specific IT and financial challenges accompany wearable technology and the methods for overcoming them with an automated, intelligent data center.