A data centre is a facility, which houses many computers that store all of the information of a company. As well as the actual machines, data centres also store back up systems, back up power supplies and cooling systems. Most large companies have one or a network of highly secure data centres. Companies have high security at these facilities as they can not afford to have their data compromised. For this reason, most companies are rather guarded about exactly how their data centres run, but there are a few things which are well known in the IT community about data centres. Seven data centre facts follow.
How Many Data Centres are there?
The secretive nature of companies when it comes to their data centre means that it can be difficult to be specific about just how many data centres there are in the world. However, according to datacentreknowledge.com, a report by Emerson Network Power in 2011 showed that there may be 509,147 around the world taking up as much as 285 million square feet. To put that into context, the website goes on to say that this space could house 5,955 full sized professional football fields!
Guardians of Our Data
The rapid growth of the internet through the use of search engines and social media websites has meant that there has been an exponential increase in the demand for data centres. All of the information that is at your fingertips on the internet has got to be housed on a server in a data centre somewhere in the world. Datacentreknowledge.com put a figure on it saying that the amount of data created by the use of the Internet will be equal to 75 billion 16 GB iPods. That is a lot of data.
Datacentreknowledge estimates that it could cost a large company as much as $300,000 or £194 603.01 an hour! This is why it is so important for companies to maintain their machinery and do everything possible to minimise down time.
Reducing Carbon Footprint
Reducing down time includes the use of expensive, energy guzzling cooling systems to ensure that the computers within data centres do not over heat and go into melt down. Of course, the opportunity cost of this is that most data centres use a massive amount of energy, not good for the carbon footprint. As a result of this, Greenpeace and other environmental groups have spent a lot of time on PR initiatives to pressurise companies into going green at their data centres. Companies such as Google have invested a lot of money into doing this and claim to use up to 50 per cent less energy than other data centres. Large companies say they are trying to reduce their carbon footprint by moving over to renewable energy sources and recycling their old components instead of disposing of them. An example of this is that Apple announced in 2012 that by the end of 2012, one of its centres would be completely reliant on renewable energy sources. In 2011,
Greenpeace attempted to audit the energy usage of 14 of the largest companies in the world. It concluded that Apple and Amazon were the worst offenders when it came to energy usage and transparency regarding their energy usage practices. Most companies are pretty guarded about their energy usage, but just to give an idea, in 2011, local officials in Oregon, USA, the seat of Facebook’s first phase data centre announced that Facebook used 28 megawatts of power. To put this into context, all of the houses and businesses in the entire city use 30 megawatts of power. The local utility grid had to be expanded to accommodate. Facebook has since announced that it is investing in state of the art green technology to help reduce its carbon footprint.
Conclusion Seven Facts
1. There are 509,147 data centres around the world.
2. They take up 285 million square feet of land.
3. 75 billion 16 GB iPods of data is created and stored in data centres.
4. Down time costs $300,000 or £194 603.01 an hour.
5. Data centres use massive amounts of energy. Facebook used the equivalent of an entire town.
6. Google claims to use up to 50 per cent less energy than other companies.
7. Many large companies are announcing that they are moving towards renewable energy to reduce their carbon footprint.