If you’re a regular here, you’ll know already that we are an agency with ethics. We work on projects that make the world a better place for everyone. We strive to do this in a way that minimises our impact on our surroundings, so much so that we joined 1% for the Planet back in January – donating 1% of our gross sales to environmental non-profits around the world. These are audited efforts, working hard to improve real-world issues such as climate change, famine and wildlife decline.
But money can’t fix everything. Whilst we trust in the 1% for the Planet process, and push ourselves and each other to be more mindful, we are still a business at heart, and a technology business at that. The very work we do runs on some pretty big and clever tech. So we feel it’s only right that we run our business in the greenest way possible.
Much of our work is digital products, which includes websites, platforms, CRMs and much more. All of these services and the many microservices within them require a sizable amount of storage. In fact, every single thing that we do runs from a server.
Servers not only consume power just to run, but they require a great deal of cooling too. From your small server room setup right the way through to 20-acre server farms, the power consumption just to keep temperature and humidity within the required parameters is overwhelming. Estimates put server energy usage at 1% of overall global usage.
Before the UK left the EU, you may have heard of the ‘Green Deal’. Part of this agreement stated that data centres “can and should be carbon neutral by 2030”. But there is some controversy here. The huge data centres like the one shown in the photo below are often divided into thousands of individual customer accounts, and the service level agreement around energy and cooling (which is a fixed rate for all customers) is set incredibly low. This means that it’s unrealistically easy for these large data centres to tick the box as a ‘green server farm’.
But, you’ll be pleased to know that most UK data centres are working efficiently, scoring an average of 1.65 on the PUE (power utilisation effectiveness) scale. The scale ranges from 3.0, or ‘very inefficient’ to 1.2, or ‘very efficient’. These numbers are smarter than they look. A 1.8 score, for instance, tells us that a data centre uses 0.8w of power to support the infrastructure, on top of the 1w used to support the storage and networking equipment. In short, an additional 80% of power is used to cool the data centre.
Another plus for the UK is our climate, with many new data centres not even needing to use cooling in the colder months. Indirect ‘fresh air cooling’ massively reduces the PUE number, with the mechanical hardware such as compressors and pumps being switched off entirely.
Global data centre usage as of 2018:
There are over 10,000 enterprise data centres in the UK, many of them offering ‘green’ cloud services. But just how green are they? Are they just using renewable energy suppliers, or is there more to it? What can agencies like ours do to help?
An agency’s approach to green server storage
For us, it’s all about balance. We need reliability, speed and scalability, but from a provider who is genuinely focused on being a green and clean business. That’s when we discovered Equinix – a business who share our goals and ethics, and are aware of the struggle that tech companies like us and our clients face when trying to keep the environment front of mind whilst simultaneously developing great digital products.
About our green data centre
Via the excellent folk at Digital Ocean, we host with Equinix and their IBX (International Business Exchange) data centres – one based in London, and the other, New York. Their data centres meet rigorous environmental certification and energy management standards, including SOC 1 & 2 Type II, PCI DSS, HIPAA and ISO 27001. You can read more about ISO 27001 and why we’re an ISO 27001 registered company ourselves in a recent blog of ours.
The London data centre uses 100% REGO certified renewable energy, which means that it complies to Ofgem’s Renewable Energy Guarantees Origin. This is a scheme that provides complete transparency to customers.
The New York data centre isn’t yet 100% renewable, but compensates the difference by buying green energy credits with a particular focus on wind energy.
Both Equinix solutions are trusted partners with AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud and more. So we can be certain and confident that whatever we need, it’s there, and we don’t need to worry about costly migrations in the future.
A green future for computing
A carbon neutral cloud storage community by 2030 isn’t a pipedream. It’s entirely possible. But it needs support from technology providers like us. We should all be having those conversations with our clients – informing them of the benefits to greener cloud storage, data and networking. You can do this through stats, or even a presentation. But we hope in most cases, it’s a ‘no brainer’ decision.
Why wouldn’t you want to be a greener company?
If you’re a business looking for a digital product from an agency who not only know their tech, but who also make it a daily goal to be an ethical business for change, come to us.
If this article has encouraged you to rethink your own strategies around tech and energy, then forward it to a friend or another business that you know. Together we can pull that PUE number down to 1.2.