Making the most of data, with data
ABB global head of technology for the date centre industry sector Dave Sterlace has written the following article discussing data centres.
Data drawn from the management of data centre themselves is helping to make the industry more efficient.
For many businesses today, data is as much an asset as the products and services they sell. Data is no longer just a list of numbers to fill an Excel sheet, it now has the power to change the way companies are operated, money is made and economies are built.
The information world is riddled with mind-blogging statistics – more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day (that is 10 followed by 17 zeroes!). Ninety percent of all the data that exists in the world today was created in the past two years, according to Big Data expert Bernard Marr. At the heart of this massive information creation and collection are data centres – centralised data storage and computation hardware.
We are more reliant on data centres than we are aware of. Everything from the photographs we share on social media to complex codes that run robots at our factories are all stored in data centres that can be located many hundreds of miles away from us.
It only takes microseconds to retrieve information from a data centre, we most often do so without even noticing it and this free flow of information is predicated on the smooth running of the data centre. Imagine just how difficult it would be if an interruption at a Google data centre prevents us from accessing simple but necessary information such as a train schedule just before heading to work?
And this is a formidable challenge.
Data centres are notorious for the amount of energy they consume and the resultant heat they expend. A gamut of technologies such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC), and data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) tools come together to ensure that these indispensable powerhouses of information operate with little, if any, downtime.
As electricity rates rise, it is paramount for a data centre to be as energy efficient as possible. The fact that 3 percent of the electricity generated on earth is consumed by data centres, puts this need more into perspective.
Simple power-saving “stand-by” modes are not enough. Data centres need cutting-edge automation technology such as data centre enterprise management systems, such as the ABB Ability TM Data Center Automation that gives operators complete visibility by unifying multiple disciplines on one platform, and maintenance recommending services when equipment is not running to full potential.
As climate change grips the global conscience, many companies have implemented renewable sources of energy to power their data centres. Technology behemoths like Apple and Google have vowed to power most of their data centres from renewable sources, but the intermittent nature of the energy generated is a strong deterrent for its adaptability. Solutions such as microgrids and power storage systems can mitigate the risk of downtime.
As luck may have it, data drawn from the management of data centre themselves, has been helping make the industry more efficient, especially as the spectre of cloud storage rises. The data centre of the future will bear little resemblance to the stacks of servers that we are used to seeing. Micro-modular data centres are now able to operate in harsh environments such as near industrial sites, are easy to deploy and flexible enough to expand and contract with demand.
The Secure Edge Data Center (SEDC) developed by ABB, Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE) and Rittal, unveiled at the Hannover Messe trade show in April, is a breakthrough in secure and scalable data centre technology. The SEDC can be put into operation within twelve weeks, gives management more choices through remote control and monitoring, organises data automatically and self-diagnoses to prevent and rectify disruptions.
In the aftermath of the dotcom boom, companies simply sold off their data to advertisers as they did not see any use in hoarding these large amounts information. But the advent of automation and deep learning have shown how every bit of data can be used to improve a machine’s output and in turn an organisation’s performance. Data centres equipped with digital capabilities, can truly transform the way the world preserves information.
Dave Sterlace is the Global Head of Technology for the Data Centre Industry Sector at industrial technology company ABB, and brings with him more than 25 years of experience in critical
power. Sterlace also chairs the marketing committee for The Green Grid, an industry organisation with a mission to drive accountable, effective, resource-efficient, end to end ICT ecosystems.