The secret sauce may be the deployment of ‘micro’ data centers, in addition to a strong will to reduce climate change.

Across South-east Asia, the growth of cloud and colocation services as well as the emergence of hyperscale centers have contributed to a massive increase in energy consumption.

Among ASEAN nations, Singapore is a data center hub, accounting for 60% of the region’s data center supply. With greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from data centers almost equivalent to the global airline industry, operators need to take proactive steps to reduce the environmental impact of its operations.

More energy consumption means higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are having visible and devastating impacts on the environment.

These realities about the environment impact of data center energy consumption have contributed to a burgeoning interest in developing green data centers.

Operators in Singapore have ambitious visions to improve the energy efficiency capabilities of legacy data centers, comply with the country’s Green Plan and nationwide sustainability goals, and achieve net-zero emissions from its operations.

Singtel recently completed a 1.65 MWp solar energy installation on the rooftop of its Bedok Data Center, and Keppel Corp. announced plans to explore building a data center at sea to save energy, and remove geographical constraints. These types of announcements will continue as organizations take steps to reduce energy consumption, costs, and the impact of their operations on the environment.

More is not enough

A more sustainable approach to digital business is still a new concept and a challenging goal for many operators in the region.

However, as the impact of climate change becomes more apparent, citizens and climate change advocates are calling for more resolute and deliberate actions from various climate change stakeholders.

According to the Southeast Asia Climate Outlook: 2020 Survey Report, 93.6% of ASEAN respondents believed that by committing to green supply chain practices, promoting sustainable practices, and providing green investment and financing, businesses and organizations can significantly contribute in addressing climate change.

The pressure to manage environmental footprints amid growing energy consumption and IT infrastructure development is pushing data center operators to find new energy efficiency solutions.

Incorporating renewable energy sources into data centers is one way to tackle the issue; technology solutions offer another way.

DC energy efficiency technology

Thermal management holds a significant share in total data center energy demand.

Thus, new energy-efficient cooling technologies and processes are being implemented in data centers to improve efficiency. Liquid cooling, for example, can help operators lower energy consumption significantly, and is considered the best way to cool processors because water transfers heat much more efficiently than air.

With a typical chiller, every one-degree Celsius reduction in water temperature offers a 2–3% savings in power consumption. While the technology can help data centers become carbon neutral, it requires customization for effective outcomes. Some research predicts that liquid cooling solutions will double between 2020 and 2024.

The Impact of 5G on data centers

5G networks will have a domino effect on existing infrastructure, and on new investment, particularly when it comes to data centers.

With 5G, networks are more efficient than previous generations in terms of bandwidth and connection density. The improvements 5G offers can be game-changing, particularly for Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies.

High-performance IoT infrastructures and data-intensive applications can all benefit from 5G’s bandwidth capacity. With connection speed that can exceed 1Gbps and latency levels that can go as low as 1ms, 5G networks enable cutting-edge applications such as digital twin in manufacturing and autonomous vehicles.

However, to fully leverage the benefits of 5G, providers need to revisit data center design. For instance, 5G uses short and high-frequency wavelengths, which require small cells and multiple input and output antennas (MIMOs). To ensure low latency performance and reliability of service for critical applications relying on 5G, micro data centers need to be deployed closer to the end-users.

Micro data centers are self-contained, cost-effective, flexible and compact infrastructures that can help organizations to meet the growing demands of business. They have a shorter deployment time and also typically include components present in traditional data centers such as power, cooling, networking and monitoring. As the widespread deployment of 5G accelerates, the requirement for high-performance and energy-efficient micro data center solutions will continue to grow.

Like attracts like

Sustainability changes are happening rapidly, especially in data centers, and this important consideration cannot be ignored.

Data center operators that take the lead in implementing more efficient processes have the potential to attract new customers seeking partnerships with like-minded sustainability-conscious organizations.

By forming partnerships among themselves and solutions providers, sustainability-centric organizations can collaborate to improve their carbon-footprint objectives to reduce GHG emissions and contribute to the demands and collective will of increasingly eco-conscious customers.