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Sustainability first at Aruba’s Global Cloud Data Centre IT3

Image credit: Aruba

Aruba explains how its Global Cloud Data Centre (GCDC) IT3 has been designed to achieve sustainability goals.

It’s no surprise that an increasing number of organisations are turning to outsourced data centres as cloud adoption continues to rise, and a record amount of data is being generated.

To meet increasing demand, data centre providers are renovating and upgrading existing data centres, as well as constructing new ones. In fact, a total of 111 new hyperscale data centres were opened in 2020, whilst 59 were built in H1 2021 alone.

As they expand capacity, data centre providers are increasingly prioritising sustainability. In addition to considering safety, security, reliability, uptime and cost, environmental factors have shot to the top of the agenda. Whilst providers might share a genuine desire to alleviate the effects of the global climate crisis, this shift in priorities has been mostly driven by pressure from customers and regulators. For example, European data centre providers are committing to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 through a self-regulatory initiative established by the EU.

Here’s how Aruba’s Global Cloud Data Centre (GCDC) IT3 is at the forefront of achieving these goals to combat climate change.

The largest in Italy

Located in Ponte San Pietro, Bergamo near Milan, a 200,000msq campus is home to Aruba’s Global Cloud Data Centre IT3, with over 90,000 msq of this devoted entirely to housing data centres ­– making it the largest data centre facility in Italy.

The GCDC’s systems have been designed to surpass the highest levels of resilience set by ANSI/TIA-942 Rating 4. As well as this, it offers world-class security standards, with 24-hour armed protection, seven different levels of security and eight security perimeters.
The GCDC therefore is the preferred data centre for many of Italy’s largest private and public companies and Fortune 500 organisations around the world.

Pioneering a climate-neutral data centre

The environmental credentials of Aruba’s GCDC are what sets it apart.  

“For years, we’ve been following a more concentrated agenda – investing in renewable energy self-generation and pioneering the architecture of climate-neutral data centres,” says Alessandro Bruschini, Infrastructure Manager at Aruba.

“Aruba has also been closely involved in shaping policy around more efficient data centres – committing to the CISPE Climate Neutral Agreement and European Green Digital Coalition. Not only is this crucial to ensuring the safety of our planet for future generations, it makes us stand out in the market. We aim to lead by example.”

Optimised energy efficiency

Electricity sourced from low- or zero-carbon sources is just one fraction of what data centres do. Another aspect is ensuring maximum energy efficiency. With this objective in mind, Aruba is working closely with Italian energy supplier Duferco Energia to come up with new energy-saving solutions. 

Additionally, big data is being harnessed to make this work more effective. With the GCDC’s advanced energy management system, thousands of data points are analysed to optimise energy consumption and monitor performance.

Renewable energy created on-site It’s critical to produce power near to where it’ll be needed if renewable energy is to be cost-effective. Taking this into consideration, Aruba chose to build a hydroelectric plant on the adjacent River Brembo to power the GCDC, which generates electricity through utilising the flowing water. The benefit of hydroelectric power over other sources such as wind power is that the river never stops running, and is therefore a reliable source of energy as generation is guaranteed.

Additional power is also generated on campus through solar panels that cover several of the buildings. When more electricity is required, it is obtained entirely from renewable sources, as verified by the EU’s Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin scheme.

A new generation of cooling

It takes a great deal of power to cool a traditional data centre. Fortunately, innovative cooling solutions eliminate this obstacle for vendors. An example of this is the highly efficient geothermal cooling system that Aruba’s GCDC has employed. This works by pumping cold water from deep underground into a network of pipes running through the walls of data halls. Once it’s been used, the now-warm water is returned underground until it’s cold – creating a continuous, sustainable cycle.

Of course there’s a backup option in place. In case of an emergency, air water chillers can come into operation, providing 100% of the cooling power required. This system is also powered by renewable energy.

Aruba’s GCDC uses dynamic free cooling in addition to its geothermal system. In layman’s terms, this entails moving filtered air from the outside into a big cavity beneath the equipment to cool it. Meanwhile, massive fan units exhaust heated air from the structure. Electric shutters open and close as needed to make this possible.

So, what can we learn about data centre architecture from Aruba’s Global Cloud Data Center IT3? To begin with, renewable energy and energy efficiency should be taken into account from the beginning of the design process rather than as an afterthought. Secondly, that data centre providers may endeavour to reduce their carbon footprint in a variety of ways, both large and small. Working with the natural resources at your disposal, like Aruba has done with hydroelectric and solar electricity, is a fantastic place to start.

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