Data center industry driving the sustainability agenda

By Rajesh Kaushal, Head- Critical Infrastructure Solutions, Delta Electronics India

The data center industry in India is rapidly growing due to the increasing demand for digital transformation across various industries. India’s government has been promoting the development of digital infrastructure, which has further boosted the growth of data centers in the country.
According to a report, the data center market in India was valued at over $1.5 billion in 2021 and the number of Large scale Colo/Hyperscale datacentre’s in India grew to 138. The primary drivers for the growth of the market are the increasing adoption of cloud computing, big data, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
India is also emerging as a preferred destination for global data center providers due to its favorable government policies, availability of skilled labor, and cost-effectiveness. Major data center companies have already established their presence in India, while local players continue to expand their operations.
However, there are still some challenges that the data center industry in India faces, such as the lack of reliable power and internet connectivity in some regions, as well as the high cost of land and real estate. Nevertheless, the overall outlook for the data center industry in India remains positive, with significant growth potential in the coming years.
Challenges for the data center industry:
While the data center industry in India is growing rapidly, it still faces several challenges that need to be addressed to ensure sustained growth. Here are some of the key challenges faced by the data center industry in India:
Power availability and reliability: Data centers require a reliable and consistent power supply to ensure uninterrupted operations. Any power disruptions or outages can result in downtime and lost revenue, making power availability and reliability a critical challenge for the data center industry.

Cost of Real Estate: The high cost of land and real estate is another challenge faced by the data center industry in India. The cost of land in prime locations can be prohibitively high, making it difficult for data center operators to set up operations. This is especially true for smaller data center providers who may not have the financial resources to acquire land in expensive urban areas.

Skilled Workforce: Another challenge faced by the data center industry in India is the shortage of skilled workers. Data center operations require highly skilled workers who can manage complex systems and equipment. However, there is a shortage of workers with the necessary skills, which can lead to higher costs and longer lead times for data center deployments.

Security and Compliance: Data center providers must comply with various security and compliance regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Ensuring compliance can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially for smaller data center operators who may not have the necessary resources.

Connectivity: Data centers require reliable and high-speed connectivity to ensure fast and efficient data transfer. However, connectivity can be a challenge in some locations, especially in remote areas or developing countries where the infrastructure may be less developed.
The data center industry in India is highly competitive, with several local and international players vying for market share. This can lead to price wars and reduced profit margins for data center providers. To stay competitive, data center operators must continually invest in new technologies and services to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Sustainability in the data center industry
Sustainability is an increasingly important consideration for the data center industry, as data centers are significant consumers of energy. Here are some of the ways in which the data center industry is addressing sustainability:
Energy Efficiency: Data center operators are investing in energy-efficient technologies and practices to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. These include measures such as using virtualization to increase server utilization rates, deploying energy-efficient cooling systems, and using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. Efficiency factors for UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and PDU (Power Distribution Unit) are important considerations in data center design and operation. UPS and PDU efficiency factors are typically expressed as percentages, with higher percentages indicating greater efficiency. The most efficient UPS and PDU systems can achieve 98% efficiency or higher. Selecting high-efficiency UPS and PDU systems can assist data centers in lowering their energy consumption and operating costs while also reducing their environmental impact.

Green Building Design: Data center operators are adopting green building design principles to reduce the environmental impact of their facilities. This includes using materials with a low carbon footprint, maximizing natural lighting, and reducing water consumption.

Carbon Offsetting: Some data center operators are offsetting their carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy projects or purchasing carbon credits. This allows them to mitigate the environmental impact of their operations and support the development of clean energy sources.

Recycling and Waste Reduction: Data center operators are also focusing on recycling and waste reduction to minimise their environmental impact. This includes recycling IT equipment, reducing paper consumption, and minimising the use of hazardous materials.

Industry Standards: The data center industry is working on developing industry standards and best practices for sustainability. It is necessary in order to provide guidelines for improving energy efficiency in data centers.

Future of Sustainability in the data center industry

The future of sustainability in the data center industry is expected to be characterized by an even greater focus on energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources. Here are some of the key trends and developments that are likely to shape the future of sustainability in the data center industry:

Renewable Energy: The use of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and hydro power, is expected to become increasingly common in the data center industry. This will be driven by the falling costs of renewable energy and the increasing availability of renewable energy sources in many regions.

Energy Storage: As the use of renewable energy sources grows, energy storage technologies such as batteries and flywheels will become increasingly important for ensuring reliable and consistent power supply in data centers.

Artificial Intelligence: The use of artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize energy efficiency in data centers is expected to become more widespread. AI can be used to predict and manage energy consumption, optimize cooling systems, and identify opportunities for energy savings.

Circular Economy: The concept of the circular economy, which aims to minimize waste and maximize resource use, is expected to gain greater prominence in the data center industry. This will involve measures such as recycling and reusing IT equipment and minimizing the use of hazardous materials.

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