Interview: Talking sustainable data centre construction with Colt DCS
Data centres are enormous consumers of energy and resources.
Driven by the explosion of connected devices now in existence (50bn are forecast to be in play by 2020), data centres are becoming more and more common all over the world.
This brings with it a massive energy bill, not least when it comes to keep servers cool. According to US researchers, the ICT industry is posed to be responsible for up to 3.5% of global emissions by 2020.
Further still, data centres are expected to consume as much as one fifth of the world’s power by 2025.
- Google plans $178mn expansion of Irish data centre to power regional operations
- Interview: Discussing data centre trends with Open Compute Project
- Read the latest edition of Construction Global magazine
So, what can data centre providers do to offset or curb some of this consumption and become more sustainable?
Bruce Stephenson is Director of Real Estate Development at Colt Data Centre Services, with 17 years’ experience in the construction industry. He sat down with Construction Global to discuss some of the nuances when it comes to building data centres, and how operations can be made more sustainable.
One element Stephenson mentions is size – the more a single data centre can store, the lesser the environmental impact in terms of energy usage per amount of data.
“We all know the examples of 10 years ago, 15 years ago, the one, two, three, four, five-megawatt data centre was a pretty big deal,” he recalls. “Or certainly it was big enough for you to be interested. However, the world we now live in is very much different.
“One of our biggest differentiators actually… is the size and scale that we're aspiring to in terms of the sites that we're looking at. I think the smallest that we're looking at currently is Frankfurt, and that's 25 MW of IT. So, that is, by no stretch of the imagination, a big data centre. In some instances, we're looking at up to 100 MW of IT.”
Stephenson also points to Colt’s tightknit design team of 15 experts, for whom R&D is critical when it comes to ensuring data centre designs are as energy efficient as possible.
“R&D and improvement is key,” he adds, “and energy efficiency is the focus. Carbon initiatives are not going anywhere. It's not going away. If anything, it's intensifying. It's constant growth.
“Sustainability is not just a cheesy sales line – the reality is it runs through the core of the business.”
Renewable energy is one obvious example of how data centres can cut carbon emissions, and Stephenson says that Colt is looking at investing in its own land with a view to leveraging solar power, moving beyond other carbon reduction methods such as buying credits.
To read more insight on data centres and sustainability, look out for the August edition of Gigabit magazine.
Tech companies profits reach more than US$50bn combined
Three tech companies, Apple, Microsoft, and Google owner Alphabet, have reported combined profits of more than US$50 billion in the April-June quarter, showing the impact and importance they have had during the pandemic.
Although these companies make their money in different ways, the results come amid an increase in consumer demand as the coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate a trend toward working, shopping, socialising, and more online.
The three companies currently have a combined market value of $6.4 trillion, more than double their value by market capitalisation when the pandemic started 16 months ago. The strong quarterly results served as another reminder of why government regulators are growing increasingly concerned about whether they have become too powerful.
After continually growing revenue in several quarters, Google's parent company Alphabet announced that it made US$61.9 billion in Q2 2021. A jump of 62% from the same period last year, when the organisation's revenue dipped due to the onset of the pandemic. Last quarter, Alphabet posted $55.3 billion in revenue.
Powered by Google, Alphabet earned $18.53 billion, or $27.26 per share, during the quarter, a nearly threefold increase from last year’s earnings of $6.96 billion, or $10.13 per share. Google’s advertising revenue soared 69% to $50.44 billion thanks to what CEO Sundar Pichai called a “rising tide” of online activity among consumers and businesses.
Retail, along with travel and entertainment ads, were the biggest contributors to the revenue increase, the company said. Total revenue surged 62% from last year to $61.88 billion. Revenue after subtracting TAC, or traffic acquisition costs, was $50.95 billion.
Apple’s profit and revenue for the April-June period exceeded analyst estimates. The California company earned $21.7 billion, or $1.30 per share, nearly doubling profits earned during the same period last year. Revenue surged 36% to $81.4 billion.
“Our record June quarter operating performance included new revenue records in each of our geographic segments, double-digit growth in each of our product categories, and a new all-time high for our installed base of active devices,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO. “We generated $21 billion of operating cash flow, returned nearly $29 billion to our shareholders during the quarter, and continued to make significant investments across our business to support our long-term growth plans.”
Upcoming challenges that Apple may face include shortages of computer chips and whether it will force the company to delay its next iPhone this year, as it did last year. While Apple expects revenue to rise 10% in the current quarter, it said it may have more trouble getting parts for iPhones and iPad during the upcoming months.
Microsoft reported quarterly profits of $16.5 billion, up 47% from the same period last year. The net income of $2.17 per share beat Wall Street expectations.
The software maker also topped forecasts by posting revenue of $46.2 billion in the quarter that ended on June 30, a 21% increase over the same time last year.
Microsoft profits have soared throughout the pandemic due to ongoing demand for its software and cloud computing services for remote work and study. Growth in sales of Microsoft's cloud services, which compete with Amazon and other companies, and its Office productivity tools for handling work documents and email both outpaced overall revenue growth. The company's historical pillar, personal computing, grew just 9% in the quarter.