Standards for Data Centres – Keeping Pace with Change
With massive changes expected in the global data centre landscape, standards and regulatory bodies must also collaborate on a global basis
Paul Finch, COO at Kao Data reports his recent CBRE Breakfast Panel Session
I participated in a panel discussion at a very interesting event recently, where the topic was ‘Data Centre Standards Sizzling or just Sauce.’ Hosted by CBRE at its London, West End offices, the event brought together industry operators, policy-makers, the financial sector and a good crowd of invited guests, across a spectrum of the industry.
An insightful introduction on the growth of the market with a number of high impact statements led into the need for regulation and compliance, although for once in a long time, Brexit was thought not to be so much of an issue with an immediate consensus of uncertainty, but a broader view that a state of equilibrium may be reached over the longer-term.
It’s predicted that consumer demand will result in a billion more people coming online within the next five-years, whilst current users are also increasing their daily data usage, creating the Zettabyte terminology to discuss how our industry is growing and its external impact. In a recent draft regulation published by the EU Commission, it concludes that without action, by 2030 the annual energy consumption related to servers and infrastructure is forecasted to rise to 75TWh. However, to put that into perspective, according to the Global Energy Statistical Yearbook, on its own the UK’s total electricity consumption in 2017 was 305TWh. This evolution in energy use places an immense responsibility on data centre operators, as well as the organisations within the regulatory framework.
In the UK, IT networks, data and systems fall under the responsibility and protection of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The NCSC work in partnership with the Centre for the Protection of National Critical Infrastructure (CPNI). National Infrastructure can be defined as: ‘those facilities, systems, sites, information, people, networks and processes, necessary for a country to function and upon which daily life depends’. It also includes some functions, sites and organisations which are not critical to the maintenance of essential services, but which need protection due to the potential danger to the public’. When considering this and the exponential advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Deep Learning (DL) the interrelationship with the Internet of Things (IoT), driverless cars and beyond, it is inevitable and sometimes necessary that regulation will drive future standards.
There will be massive change in the data centre landscape over the coming years, and we must ensure that standardisation remains proportionate and the multitude of standard and regulatory bodies collaborate on a global basis to serve a global industry.
It is important to be conscious of the rate of change within the data centre industry as we attempt to move forward and how it keeps pace with the exponential changes seen within the IT industry it supports. It remains difficult to predict what a future data centre will look like; who is to say the data centre of the future will require generators or UPS, as the applications, hardware and networks evolve.
Kao Data has recently gone through the Open Compute Project (OCP), Data Centre Facility certification process and achieved OCP-Ready status, as well as developing Kao Data Campus to deliver an environment aligned to the ASHRAE TC9.9 Thermal Guidelines. Each of these steps provides the infrastructure to deliver substantial energy efficiencies and sustainability credentials and remain compliant with the industry’s leading technology businesses’ expectations as well as server and storage manufacturers requirements.
For a data centre business not to consider reliability, availability, energy efficiency and sustainability in the same sentence would actually put them at a commercial disadvantage in what is an extremely competitive market. Standards are less likely to be able to keep pace with advancements in technology and therefore it is important they remain non-prescriptive providing flexibility otherwise there is a risk they will stifle innovation resulting in unintended consequences.