Data – The “steam” of the technological revolution

Data in its own right has been the fabric of what the world economic forum classifies as the ‘steam’ of the technological revolution. Back in the 1700s when we started on this journey of industrialisation, steam was the driver for everything, from getting water out of the deep wells, to making steam-engines run. Data is now the driver.

Onnec explores the Data Centre technological revolution with Garry Connolly, Founder of Host in Ireland.

Why do we need so many Data Centres?

Our phones, our cars, our smart home devices that we use daily, are all generating data, and it is often forgotten about. What is really at the backbone of all this data from all these devices and where it sits, is your data centre.

The need for data centres correlates with our dependency on these devices that are creating the data ……from your smart speaker, to your smart thermometer, to the video calls we now find ourselves on every day. The power that we now have in our hands is something in the region of 10-15 times more compute than what put man on the moon 50 years ago!

The power that we now have in our hands is something in the region of 10-15 times more compute than what put man on the moon 50 years ago!

What difference are Data Centres making in the world?

Data is changing the world and touches all aspects of our lives. Take the new vaccine for example. The process of designing and testing this vaccine was accelerated by months, even years, because of the data made available. When people think of data, one of the first connotations is social media, and the sense that we’ve all become obsessed with it. But for the big data centres powering our apps, this is only a tiny percentage for them. Creating vaccines, track and trace, all that data needs these large hyperscale data centres.

Data is like the oil that is greasing the modern world

The power in consuming the Data

What a lot of people forget is we have always had data centres, it’s just that they were never called  data centres. They were often called mainframes, or 15-20 years ago they were called a comms room. Usually they were over engineered, overpowered big rooms, with air suppression, lots of cabling, and one server. Now they are starting to close these down, and consolidating them into something that is fit for purpose and more efficient…..a proper data centre.

The International Energy Agency (IEA)  started a process in 2010 where they began tracking the number of commercial data centres. What they found was that the IT industry was responsible for 1% of the world’s electricity usage. Since then, there is now twelve and a half times more data traversing the network, yet it still only makes up 1% of consumption, and this is because of the transition to efficient data centres.

If you had a light bulb that was twelve times more efficient, but with the same glow, you would think…. ‘wow that’s amazing’!

Carbon Neutral

The greenest electricity is electricity that is never used. However, we are now in a world driven by data. Greenpeace have created sectorial score cards monitoring who is buying the most renewable energy, and it seems to be ICT companies, hotels and hospitality and construction. So we now have visibility of who is buying the electricity, and then once they’ve bought it, who is the most efficient with it.

The future of Data Centres

Are they going to be at the bottom of the sea? Are they going to be at the top of the coldest mountain? Where are they going to be? Could they even be above your head, orbiting the earth? The best answer is that they are going to be everywhere.

From lifesaving vaccines down to your smart meter saving you energy in your house….these advances are because of smart systems, and because of data. So, at the end of the year, when we look back at data centres and how much energy they are using, and their carbon footprint, and then compare it to what that data is doing in society, we are going to have a completely imbalanced scale in the positive, and that’s often not discussed enough.

Data really is the “Steam” of the 4th Industrial Revolution, however unlike steam, which was only available to industrialists, Data is available to everyone!

About Host in Ireland

Host in Ireland is an award-winning strategic global initiative created to increase awareness of the benefits of hosting digital assets in Ireland as well as Irish companies that are designing, building, and operating data centres globally. Led by Founder Garry Connolly, their ethos is “Success through Collaboration”.