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The Important role of Colocation providers towards Sustainability

Colocation providers

As climate change is increasingly becoming a major concern for consumers and businesses including data centres are going to great lengths to demonstrate their sustainability credentials. Undoubtedly, environmental and social consciousness even for data centres is fast becoming a key differentiator in the marketplace. Today, data centres have taken a big leap from being an obligatory back-office function to enjoying all the well-deserved spotlight as the colocation data centre space continues to grow at an exponential rate. 

However, another aspect of data centres that equally finds its place in the spotlight is the massive consumption of power and its negative impact on the environment. 

As per the Natural Resources Defense Council, their power consumption is estimated to account for 3% of global electricity supply and 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions. 

An increasing number of large businesses are transitioning from owning their own data centres to partnering with colocation data centre service providers to help them achieve their corporate sustainability goals. Now the data centres must also prove their ability to track and manage sensitive data, while also reducing the carbon footprint in alignment with their energy and sustainability mandates. 

Why Colocation? 

With pockets deep enough to rent entire wind farms to power their data centres or even purchase carbon offsets for all their operations in pursuit of going green and achieve carbon neutrality, major tech companies have publicly proclaimed their commitment to ‘go green’. With time, these pledges are only expected to expand. But what about smaller enterprises that would also want to adopt a sustainable approach for their IT operations, but grapple with resource crunch unlike the major tech leaders? While most rely on on-prem data centres, it becomes challenging to meet sustainability goals under such circumstances with little or no control over the energy source. 

However, thanks to the convergence of hybrid cloud architectures, and the consistent sustainability of some of the largest colocation service providers, doing so is gradually becoming more feasible. Even small enterprises can now migrate massive workloads to a hybrid data centre architecture that spans colocation and cloud facility. This allows businesses to take advantage of the green-energy initiatives by multiple data centre service providers at once while at the same time allowing them toupdate their architectures as renewable-energy data centres. 

How colocation operators can contribute?

As a first step, colocation operators need to begin by reporting on their energy and sustainability to understand their clients Greenhouse emission (GHG) requirements. Let’s take a look at the three scopes or groups to further understand how GHG requirements are classified. 

Scope 1 refers to direct emissions released into the atmosphere from owned or controlled sources as a result of a company’s daily operations, including emissions from facilities by on-site fuel consumption. 

Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions generated from purchased electricity, heat, steam or even cooling provided by an outside utility.

Scope 3 refers to upstream and downstream emissions produced by waste products, supplier including colocation sites and purchased goods as well. 

Scope 1 and 2 are mandatory to report, however, Scope 3 is voluntary and the most challenging to monitor. Colocation operators that succeed in reporting all three scopes will always have an edge in this highly competitive market. Knowing the difference between each scope and how they impact a business’s overall carbon footprint together is vital in this regard. 

In terms of power usage, on-prem data centre solutions may not be the best choice as businesses do not have enough visibility and control over its infrastructure to optimise operations like generating excess heat which must be managed by cooling solutions, leaving servers running when they are not needed, all of these requiring quite a bit of power. Over time these issues keep adding up to generate massive amounts of electricity bill, not to forget the sizable carbon footprint that comes along with it. 

As an alternative, organizations can secure a more efficient deployment facility by colocating the same IT assets with a data centre. It makes it possible to fine-tune performance while powering down unused equipment to reduce energy and cooling demands as well. The resulting heat is then far better managed with a sophisticated cooling and innovative rack designs in case servers need to run more intensive workloads. This ultimately results in less usage of energy to run the same workloads, it not only saves money on power costs but also reduces the carbon footprint which is especially valuable for small to medium-sized businesses that may not have the resources to invest directly in renewable energy generation. By 2025, the communications industry alone would consume 20% of the global electricity as stated in a report referenced by the Guardian.The ICT industry would account for carbon emissions of 5.5% of the global value, of which data centres alone would alone constitute emissions of at least 3.2%. To address this concern, STT GDC India being a colocation service provider with the largest data centre footprint in the country has transformed all its data centres into energy-efficient data centres and now commands the position of being India’s largest user of renewable energy.

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