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How edge data centres are redefining computing for a greener future?

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By Sudipta Sanyal, Principal Architect – Data Centres Services, Aurionpro Solutions

In an era dominated by technological advancements, where the digital landscape evolves at an unprecedented pace, a pressing concern looms large over our interconnected world – environmental sustainability. The tech industry, a driving force behind this relentless progress, finds itself at a crossroads, navigating the delicate balance between innovation and the ecological footprint left in the wake of its breakthroughs. Nowhere is this irony more apparent than in the realm of data centres, the unseen hubs of computational prowess.

Data centres are high consumers of energy, contributing to a substantial environmental toll. According to the International Energy Association, data centres consume more than 240-340 TWh of electricity, which equates to around 1-1.3% of global electricity consumption. This excludes energy consumption for data transmission network use, which also contributes almost equal percentage of global electricity consumption. As the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices skyrockets, projections paint a worrisome picture – the tech industry might commandeer between 7% to 20% of global energy demands by 2030.

Durability vs sustainability in data centre management
Recent studies have shown that most enterprises and data centres replace their servers every four years. While some of those may be recycled or refurbished or even sold to other smaller organisations, others are decommissioned from use and disposed of. Because of this, the carbon footprint caused by data centres keeps growing at a worrying pace. This growing energy consumption, compounded by the relentless replacement of servers every four years, gives rise to a critical environmental challenge.

In this respect, edge data centres, or EDCs represent a paradigm shift in computing that offers a promising solution to the sustainability dialogue. Unlike their centralised counterparts, EDCs function on a distributed computing model, dispersing compute resources across diverse locations. This transformative approach not only addresses the environmental concerns linked with traditional data centres but also unfolds a variety of advantages for computing infrastructure and environmental stewardship.

Resolving traditional challenges and embracing sustainability
The challenges faced by traditional data centres, such as latency issues and bandwidth limitations, find resolution in the decentralised architecture of edge data centres. Smaller and less powerful than core data centres, edge data centres can deliver lower latency data processing than core data centres. This means that the data is stored at a distance lesser than that of central data centres, close to the generation/ consumption point, reducing the time taken to store, process, and retrieve it. As a result, edge computing consumes less energy than a centralised data centre in both transferring data and maintaining the environment. EDCs, therefore, mitigate latency, alleviate bandwidth bottlenecks, and significantly reduce the energy consumption associated with long-distance data transmission.

Most importantly, the distributed nature of edge data centres allows for the efficient utilisation of renewable energy sources. According to Anders Andrae and Tomas Edler’s study, On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030, data centres could consume 8% of the world’s electricity consumption by 2030. This strategic placement in areas with access to renewable energy offers higher energy efficiency and higher utilisation compared to centralised counterparts, and aligns with the imperative to build sustainable data centres.

Pioneering green computing and resilient infrastructure
The inherent scalability and flexibility of edge data centres present a novel approach to resource utilisation, minimising wastage and supporting dynamic adaptation to fluctuating demand. As enterprises and CIOs increasingly opt for the advantages of EDCs, a positive ripple effect is emerging, indicating the inception of a more resilient infrastructure.

The rise of edge data centres signifies a pivotal step in redefining computing for a greener future. By decentralising computational resources, reducing energy consumption, and promoting sustainable practices, EDCs encapsulate a compelling solution to the environmental challenges confronting the technology industry. As we navigate the complexities of a digital age, the ascent of edge data centres beckons towards a future where technology not only meets our demands but does so with a profound commitment to the environment.

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