More Than A Trend: Cooling Down Data Centers

Nowadays, it seems that the environmental “go green” trend has impacted every aspect of our lives. Supermarkets no longer use plastic bags but rather encourage shoppers to purchase bags made out recycled materials, Ereaders are marketed as a

n eco-friendly solution to the destruction of the rainforests and even the auto industry has adopted the notion of sustainability by investing in the development of electric cars. But what about large corporations whose massive array of IT devices and data centers also impact our environment? Wasn’t there a big hoopla a few years ago about how data centers are going green as well?

According to a recent article in InfoWorld, while the buzz may have ended, the trend is still very much alive. Apparently, large companies and corporations are still looking to increase their energy efficiency be it in order to reduce IT expenditure or decrease their damaging impact on the environment.

The article goes on to quote six green practices that have been adopted by a wide array of companies all looking to increase the efficiency of their data centers. These practices include taking a holistic approach to efficiency, generating one’s own power supply by using solar panels and finding cooling methods such as liquid cooling.

If any proof was needed that the corporate world is still looking for new strategies to become more energy efficient, it arrived just last week as Internet giant Google opened the doors of its data centers for the first time in history. The company that has already revolutionized the way we think, work and process information is also a pioneer in adopting new cooling practices.

WIRED magazine’s Steven Levy, who was allowed to enter Google’s holiest of holy sites, was able to talk to the architect of Google’s innovative cooling techniques which have become standard practice in the company’s many facilities.

One of Google’s innovative cooling techniques is absorbing the heat generated in the heart of the data center by using coils filled with water. Once the water has passed through the data center it is pumped out of the building, cooled off by air and then pumped right back in. In addition, Google makes use of what natural resources can be found in vicinity of its facilities such as canal water in Belgium or seawater in Finland. Theses energy practices have enabled Google to achieve “unprecedented energy savings”.

However, despites Google’s success in attaining a higher degree of energy efficiency, there is still some distance to cover.

A recent New York Times article revealed that on a whole, massive data centers are still wasteful, inefficient and many fail to meet environmental requirements. As the whole industry shifts to cloud services, companies operating huge data centers will be forced to address the issue of energy efficiency in a much more serious way. That means more manpower, creative thinking and above all, money.

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