Data Center Waste Management

Data Center Waste Management

Peter C. Gossin (ChangeLabs, USA) and Ryan C. LaBrie (Seattle Pacific University, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1972-2.ch014


As the world’s content becomes further digitized and consumers, corporations, and governments turn to cloud computing platforms – specifically the data center – for their storage and application needs, managing data center waste becomes increasingly important. Less than near full utilization rates for the computing resources, rising energy costs, and e-waste management are just a few of the reasons why a focused attention on practicing sustainable management in the data center is essential. This research identifies several key foci of waste within the management of data centers, including: power, emissions, computing resource lifespan, facilities, and packaging methods. Furthermore this research identifies four roadblocks, or challenges, facing sustainability improvements within the data center. These challenges include: IT prioritization pressures, (lack of) governmental regulation, consumption-oriented cultures, and lagging academic support and innovation. By first recognizing these forms of waste and then coming up with innovative ways to address the technological, regulatory, and managerial challenges faced in data centers across the globe, data center management can move from a position of lagging to a position of leadership in the sustainability movement.
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The Challenge: Mounting Issues With Data Center Waste

The exponential need for data center services has driven the importance of monitoring waste to new levels of value for the business. Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and many others are investing billions to meet the demand of the online services business. In a recent Gartner survey more than half of the respondents plan to expand capacity at their existing data center by the end of 2011, and 30% plan to build new data centers (Adams & Mishra, 2010). In the creation of these facilities and services, no business leader wants their resources to be inefficiently used or to see materials that could be used to create products or services of value being swept into the garbage. It is also unlikely that a leader would be comfortable with knowledge of direct exploitation of the environment. In the context of the data center, waste can be identified in the following ways.

  • Power: The rate at which work is performed or energy is converted. Used by heating and cooling systems, hardware components, network infrastructure, and general use.

  • Emissions: From power provider, heating and cooling systems, hardware components, and network infrastructure.

  • End-of-Life Equipment: Personal computers (PCs), servers, network infrastructure, peripherals, other systems.

  • Facilities: Physical location of data center storage and operations.

  • Packaging: Materials used for transport and support of the respective product.

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