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ENERGY EFFICIENCY Data centre energy efficiency Data centres have become a core element in human activities; every major enterprise will have one and energy can account for up to 75% of the running costs of these facilities. A ccording to projections based on 2012 census information, the global data centre industry has a total power consumption of about 332 terawatt hours (TWh) of which 19% is accounted for by colocation or other outsourced facilities. This 332 TWh consumption represents 1.8% of global electricity usage based on International Energy Agency (IAE) figures. As is reflective of a growth sector, the increase in energy usage by data centres globally in 2012 was 14%, much higher than the average 2.5% increase in overall global energy demand over the past decade. Director emerging markets at Panduit, Andy Oldfield, says that though every midsize to large company will have a data centre there will be great variation on how sophisticated and up to date these are. Panduit is a privately owned company with an automation background that has become influential in networking and data centres. “The corporate guidelines of large multinationals will be more up to date on data centre energy management. In contrast, many government data centres and those of local organisations will be ripe for audit and change,” he says. “Some data centres in South Africa are sleek and shiny and have been designed with room for expansion. Some of these have two halls, one sealed off and mothballed when currently only one is needed, since why cool empty space. Others however, when you walk in you can feel the brute force cooling approach – you can stand back and feel heat come out of such a facility before it is vented.” Companies often have a blended approach towards in-and-outsourcing of data centre activities, as they decide what is core to their operations and what can be outsourced to a cloud provider. Specialist data centres are migrating to coastal areas of South Africa such as Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth thanks to the availability of high bandwidth there due to the increase in undersea cables to the country and connectivity to the global internet. Similarly Mombasa in Kenya will feature. There has even been a very recent development of high usage massively multiplayer online gaming servers migrating to South Africa, Oldfield notes. “South Africa is a good place to build hosted data centres but not because of energy considerations. There is a relative availability of power and, unlike regions such as the UK where space is limited, there is room and the ability to find sites quite readily. In addition, it is an English speaking country and knowledgeable staff can be recruited.” While energy is not the first driver, it is part and parcel of a decision on where to locate a data centre. “If you attempt to build a cloud data centre in the middle of the veld, ESI AFRICA ISSUE 4 2013 connectivity is an issue. Land availability to build and access to staff are issues. Power costs will come into it as part of the return on investment calculation.” Oldfield says, “There have been instances where power availability can be an issue. We were working on a data centre project in Russia where the local utility couldn’t provide enough power to the building and that project is on hold. This will happen too in Africa.” 45