Surely, 60,000 public housing flats use a lot of energy in a day. That is why many are surprised to find out that the equivalent amount of energy is used to power just one 20-megawatt data centre for 24 hours.

“Data centres are huge energy guzzlers,” wrote a new report released by Pure Storage. As the issue of sustainability becomes increasingly unavoidable for organisations, making their IT centres more energy efficient could be the first step in environmental efforts.

Organisations in Singapore have turned to flash storage, a new way of structuring data centres, in order to save on their energy bills. Pure Storage explains how the technology works and why it is important in going green.

Data centre emissions

The International Energy Agency estimates that the data centres currently use one per cent of the world’s electricity. By 2030, that number could be more than 10 per cent, wrote Pure Storage’s report on data centre sustainability.

Data centres employ AI and business analytics to improve their services. But these technologies are power-intensive tools and demand large amounts of energy, said Chua Hock Leng, Vice President ASEAN & Greater China at Pure Storage.

They also need to be constantly kept cool and in a controlled environment, a particular challenge in Southeast Asia’s tropical climate. Data centres in the region were found to use more energy than the global average, the report stated.

The “large population of youth and their rising consumption of digital products” has meant that Southeast Asia is creating more data to be stored, said Chua. But this growing need for data management “comes at a cost to the environment”, he noted.

“It is clear that IT and business leaders need a data management strategy that can balance rapid data growth with sustainability, for the long-term good of the planet,” he added.

Flash storage as the future 

M1, a telecommunications company in Singapore, noticed slower response times from its data systems, which were running on traditional hard disk drives. It decided to switch to flash storage, a much faster way of storing and accessing data.

They found that flash storage had benefited their data centre’s energy efficiency. Flash systems “can occupy up to 96 per cent less space in a data centre”, reducing the necessary space from 28 inches to just over 5 inches, the report said.

This decreased the amount of power that was consumed and amount of cooling that was required, M1 reported. By implementing similar flash systems, Pure Storage has helped other organisations to save a combined US$500 million in power and cooling costs, the report said.

Efficient, resilient data centres 

Not only did the centres help M1 with its sustainability goals, but it also solved its issue of slower response times. They found there was 50 per cent improvement in database performance and operating costs reduced by 30 per cent, said the report.

Production databases contain the data needed for system engineers to create and update new digital tools. Time taken for maintenance of this database reduced by half after implementing flash systems, freeing up the IT team to focus on 5G, IoT and other digital transformations, said M1.

Flash systems can also make data centres more resilient to physical and digital challenges. For example, the solid-state drives don’t involve any moving parts, unlike their spinning disk counterparts. This makes them more shock-resistant and durable, the report explained.

Flash systems are also able to handle large spikes in activity without impacting the surrounding systems. This means that organisations can decide to give flash systems more tasks on a whim, without worrying about impacting other data networks.

Data centres look to become more important and more common in Southeast Asia as the region becomes more digitally interconnected. Using flash systems could sustain this flow of innovation while providing a more sustainable alternative to less-effective legacy systems.

Find out more about how to create greener data centres here.