Integrating Data Centres into the Smart Grid to Support Tomorrow’s Computing Demands

By: Lex Coors

Technology has changed nearly every industry and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Already, enterprises are putting their data and applications in cloud environments, grocery and drug stores have automatic tellers, factories rely primarily on robots and the number of connected devices is predicted to exceed the global population by the end of this year. While this growth is exciting, it also means that we’re going to see much greater demand for connectivity, bandwidth, storage and power as each of these technology applications grows and proliferates. Add to that the increasing adoption of power-intensive activities like cloud computing and big data analytics, and it is quite obvious that the world’s compute power requirements will quickly outpace the energy supply that today’s data centres can provide.

To get ahead of that trend, many countries are actively investing in a smart grid that interconnects power plants and natural energy sources (for example, windmills, solar panels or tidal power plants) with end users. Essentially what that means is the smart grid is able to intelligently distribute power from wind farms in Denmark, for instance, to consumers in Italy. Thus, areas that do not currently have viable natural resources to generate sustainable energy aren’t forced to rely on coal or natural gas to power their infrastructure. It also means that power can be generated in every quadrant of the Earth, greatly expanding our capability to create and distribute green power.

By placing data centres in the middle of that process, we can monitor energy distribution, maximize efficiency and plan future energy and cooling sources. To demonstrate this concept, think back to how cities and towns were once built around the town church, which served as an irreplaceable pillar of the community and brought people together. Today, the data centre is that same pillar, but for an online community.

To learn more about how this will help extend the capabilities of a global smart grid, I invite you to read my recent guest post on GigaOM: Powering Times Square via Shanghai: How a global smart grid can fuel our insatiable data appetite. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom!