‘The data centre industry must play a part in reaching Ireland’s energy goal’

22 Feb 2019

Aerial view of the DUB3 data centre in Dublin. Image: SPA Communications

Although energy efficiency in data centres is demanding, this industry needs to rise to the challenge, writes Rachel Ryan.

As consumers and businesses, the volume of data we use and produce is continuing to grow, so it is not surprising that the number of people using the internet has surged over the past year. The Digital 2019 report by Hootsuite and We Are Social highlighted that more than 1m people came online for the first time every day from January 2018 to January 2019. In Ireland, the number of people using internet banking has more than doubled in the space of 10 years, according to Eurostat figures reported by the Irish Independent.

In this ever-increasing digital world, there is a need for continued data technological advances, which are critical for businesses to succeed and grow. Businesses have to act swiftly to compete, launch new products and reach markets, which has seen a growing demand for connectivity. Connectivity is the lifeblood of the data centre industry and Ireland is one of the best-connected countries worldwide for its availability of infrastructure.

More and more companies are looking for connectivity and security, and are feeling an increased demand in the need to host their digital assets. The Irish data centre industry shows no signs of slowing down with a total of 48 data centres across the country with 540MW of grid-connected power capacity. A survey of colocation providers by Host in Ireland found that off-island fibre connectivity, and power availability and reliability are influential factors of data centre investment in Ireland.

The Irish colocation market is becoming a true technology hub, but this does provide challenges for the industry. The increasing presence and electricity demand of data centres is a concern for electricity generation, grid infrastructure and data centres. Although energy efficiency in data centres is a challenge, data centres realise the need to be as efficient as possible.

The energy-efficiency challenge

Energy is a fundamental component of the services data centres deliver to customers. As an industry, we are committed to managing resources responsibly now and into the future, and are constantly innovating to improve the way we design and operate.

Ireland has one of the most robust, reliable and stable grid systems in Europe. Businesses know that when they choose Ireland as a place to host that they are joining an established, sustainable and secure industry.

Cooling efficiency is a major challenge for all data centres. When the ambient temperature outside makes free cooling unfeasible, DUB3, one of Interxion’s data centres in Ireland, uses adiabatic coolers in conjunction with external chillers to keep the critical infrastructure cool – which includes computer room air conditioners (CRACs), containment systems and data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) software.

Modern data centres have never been as focused on green and renewable energy, and DUB3 is no exception, being located on a greenfield site and powered by 100pc renewable energy in addition to energy-saving modular architecture. Google, Amazon and Microsoft have committed to – and in some cases are already achieving – 100pc renewable energy sources for their data centres in Ireland.

Data centres are seen as a vast warehouse building that consumes a lot of energy and provides room for a lot of servers while in reality it is so much more. The operations within a data centre are infinitely more important than the building itself. If you are using your smartphone, internet banking or gaming, the chances are your data is being processed in a data centre. For our business and Ireland to keep going, we need to be able to meet our growing economic data storage needs. As an industry, data centres are making significant developments to becoming more efficient and must continue to make these strives.

Ireland has committed to meeting its target of 40pc renewable electricity by 2020 as part of the EU’s target to reach 20pc final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. The data centre industry must play a part in helping achieve this goal.

By Rachel Ryan

Rachel Ryan is marketing manager at Interxion Ireland, where she leads marketing communication strategies, content development and online advertising as well as pioneering marketing campaigns.