data center sustainability

What’s Really Standing in Big Tech’s Way to Achieving Full Data Center Sustainability?

On: July 18, 2023 Comments: 0
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Demand for digital services is only moving in one direction—on the increase. As we catapult ever faster into a digital-first economy, “Big Tech” becomes more and more integral to our lives. But as these businesses take the reins of our world, they run into a host of forward-thinking considerations. Among these challenges: how can big tech prioritize sustainability in the data center, so that this digital-first world has longevity?

It’s not as if this is a brand-new concern. Big Tech is aware of the sustainability concern and has been working on solutions. But what still stands in the way? What challenges still present impediments to full data center sustainability—and are there untapped solutions already waiting to help?

Whether it’s alternative energy, waste management, resource conservation, or any number of other challenges, there’s a lot for Big Tech to consider for the future. But solutions like GRC’s liquid immersion cooling can help these entities make a big leap toward full data center sustainability—starting today.

Big tech and data center sustainability

The Challenges of Data Center Sustainability

The process of “going green”—or, more particularly, achieving data center sustainability—can prove difficult. Considering the many facets involved, many Big Tech firms don’t know where to start, or have already assumed some sunk costs, whether necessary or not.

Let’s consider a few of the biggest perceived impediments to sustainability in the data center, as well as some solutions already in the market to help.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is cost-effective, safe, and clean. Considering these advantages, it’s a wonder that these options played second fiddle to pollutant-heavy legacy energy sources like coal, oil, and gas for so long. Thankfully, change is on the horizon as industries around the world shift en masse toward a renewables-first approach. In fact, just this year, solar investment surpassed oil for the first time.

But while many industries are embracing renewable energy, data centers are still lagging behind. More facilities must transition to clean energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal ASAP to achieve sustainability—but also to remain competitive. The good news is there are now multiple realistic and business-friendly ways to do so.

One of the key business advantages of renewable energy is that, if implemented correctly, it puts you in direct control of your energy production and consumption. Big tech can install renewable power directly on site; for instance, you can deploy solar panels to generate electricity right on the data center. Rather than depend on the whims of a volatile (but ever expensive) fossil fuel market, you can generate your own power.

Of course, not every business is interested in adding power generation to an already long list of maintenance activities. There are also indirect methods to convert to green energy, such as signing agreements with like minded power utilities.

Waste Management

Equally important as the energy you take in is the energy you put out due to your operations. Like any large-scale operation, Big Tech produces its fair share of waste. But how you regulate and contain this waste has massive consequences for the environment. It can be a huge boost to your sustainability efforts if managed well, or a mighty detriment if not.

Some of the worst offenders of data center waste are electronics and heat. Electronic waste (or e-waste) occurs when Big Tech companies toss servers, storage devices, and other equipment into the trash. Electronics recycling programs can mitigate the effects of e-waste.

Heat waste on the other hand, is a bit less obvious: the byproduct of inefficient cooling systems or IT hardware. Consider how much “waste heat” your operations generate. In most data centers, it comes in two prongs:

  1. The heat your servers naturally generate as they work
  2. The heat that inefficient air-cooling systems generate trying to dispel the server heat into the wider environment

Many Big Tech operations simply assume this is a sunk cost, like with the energy source debate. However—also much like with the energy source debate—solutions already exist to change that, and in a way that will lower your costs.

For example, Green Revolution Cooling’s (GRC) systems use liquid immersion to remove heat in a more sustainable manner, rather than expending substantially more energy in order to combat the effects of using energy in the first place. Only a tiny fraction of cooling electricity is used—and the waste heat remains in a liquid form, which is more practical to reuse.

Water Conservation

Water is one of the most essential resources for data centers and for life in general. Considering this, water conservation in the data center should rank among big tech’s top concerns; however, water waste continues to be a primary weak point of these facilities.

A large part of this water waste is due to cooling requirements. Data centers must cool their servers, but conventional air cooling wastes a lot of water. By contrast, immersion cooling effectively eliminates this water waste. As such, upgrading to immersion cooling is a big step tech companies can take toward water conservation and data center sustainability. It’s profitable, too, as immersion cooling has a lower total cost than ineffectual air cooling.

data center sustainability

Take Your First Big Step Toward Data Center Sustainability With GRC

While the green revolution is exciting in the abstract, many Big Tech operations have been reticent to jump in full force, working with the misunderstanding that these solutions are either costly or in a far-off future. Whether it’s energy sources, waste management, or water conservation, many companies assume—incorrectly—they have no other choice yet.

Full sustainability is a multi-pronged effort, but you can make your first big leap in the right direction today with liquid immersion cooling from GRC. Attack your operation’s waste right at the biggest source: mitigate your heat expenditure and conserve water at the same time.

With deployments in 21 countries around the world, GRC’s liquid immersion cooling systems are well-tested and already in widespread use. Are you ready to make the jump to data center sustainability and save money in the process? Reach out today and let’s transform your data center.