If you’ve got it, use it. Too much power capacity in data centres is going to waste

Data centers should exist to deliver IT workloads in a manner that is both capital and energy-efficient. Yet until now, power delivery has been static, inflexible and usually misaligned with IT, which has a negative impact on capital efficiency.

For many in the data center sector, one of the most pressing concerns is that much of the world’s data center infrastructure operates in a manner that is financially suboptimal and environmentally unsustainable. There is plenty of evidence of a steady flow of capital into the data center sector in Europe (source: Mondaq) and APAC (source: JLL) and elsewhere.

If only power were responsive

However, some are questioning whether data centers are as capital efficient as they could be. If a data center is only using a fraction of the available power then the capital investment that is tied up in inflexible power infrastructure is impotent. The question is, who is paying for that stranded capacity and unused space?

All data center stakeholders are interested in operating sustainable data centers, energy efficiency and saving money. This includes general managers in hyperscalers, colocation company chief engineers and their end user customers, enterprise CTOs and CIOs.

One answer is to change the data center power provisioning where static power infrastructure is not aligned with IT workloads.

Changing IT needs responsive power

In a world where IT workloads are dynamic, and power draw rises and falls, investors and operators are seeking savings by trying to figure out how they can align their power SLA with the IT SLA. The fundamental problem is that virtually all data center power designs are static. Changing to a dynamic power design is key to eliminating waste and maximizing power utilization. The need for Power as a Service has never been greater. And it can be done while saving CAPEX and OPEX.

The Adaptable Redundant Power journey

Adaptable Redundant Power (ARP) has been developed by Ed Ansett and Kerr Johnstone at i3 Solutions Group and demonstrates that data center power systems can be both flexible and responsive, driving efficiencies and lowering operating costs.

ARP works by capturing and then using stranded capacity in the data center. By providing higher utilization to the power modules, it delivers significantly improved returns on invested capital.

As occupancy incrementally increases, an ARP enabled power design requires fewer power modules. The modules are then run at higher utilization. This means that as the data center load increases, the investment capital of deploying new modules can be deferred because the operator can access what would otherwise have been stranded power from elsewhere.

ARP does this by provisioning predefined variable redundancy levels to IT loads by accessing redundant power from stranded islands of power capacity trapped in the electrical infrastructure. This leads to significant deferred capital and substantial capital savings.

In addition, in operating terms, the benefits of ARP start immediately when data center utilization rates are low.

For example, in a 10MW data center with five halls of 2MW each, an ARP based power module design starts to deliver benefits when utilization rates are at their lowest, for example when only one or two halls are in use and IT workloads are beginning to ramp up. At this stage, ARP end-state power costs savings as a percentage of total power cost are at their highest. This means operators are not buying unused power or wasting energy. And as data center utilization rates rise to above 50% ARP ensures CAPEX and OPEX savings throughout the lifecycle of the data center.

The answer to questions about capital efficiency and environmental sustainability in the data center sector must be seen through the lens of Power as a Service. This is what ARP achieves.