Making the most of data, with data

Dave Sterlace

Data drawn from the management of data center 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 centers – centralized data storage and computation hardware.

We are more reliant on data centers 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 centers that can be located many hundreds of miles away from us.

It only takes microseconds to retrieve information from a data center, we most often do so without even noticing it and this free flow of information is predicated on the smooth running of the data center. Imagine just how difficult it would be if an interruption at a Google data center 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 centers 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 center 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 center to be as energy efficient as possible. The fact that 3 percent of the electricity generated on earth is consumed by data centers, puts this need more into perspective.

Simple power-saving “stand-by” modes are not enough. Data centers need cutting-edge automation technology such as data center enterprise management systems, such as the ABB AbilityTM 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 centers. Technology behemoths like Apple and Google have vowed to power most of their data centers 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 center themselves, has been helping make the industry more efficient, especially as the specter of cloud storage rises. The data center of the future will bear little resemblance to the stacks of servers that we are used to seeing. Micro-modular data centers 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 center technology. The SEDC can be put into operation within twelve weeks, gives management more choices through remote control and monitoring, organizes 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 organization’s performance. Data centers equipped with digital capabilities, can truly transform the way the world preserves information.

Technology to power the data center of the future

Data centers

Low-voltage products for data centers

About the author

Dave Sterlace

Dave Sterlace is the Global Head of Technology for the Data Center 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 organization with a mission to drive accountable, effective, resource-efficient, end to end ICT ecosystems.
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