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Microsoft's pre-assembled 'Green and Clean' Data centre to curb carbon emissions

By | April 2nd 2011

By James Ratemo

Going green is a fad gaining prominence in this age where global warming is threatening humanity.

Data centres have been known to consume enormous amounts of energy in cooling. With increasing demand for data storage space, expanding data centres is inevitable.

In an eco-friendly innovation, Microsoft launched an IT pre-assembled components (ITPAC) datacenter at the United Nations Offices in Nairobi, UNON.

Dubbed as a 4th generation Cloud Data Centre the innovation will be utilized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as part of the energy-efficient IT infrastructure for a new UN office in Nairobi aimed at being energy neutral.

The ITPAC technology helps increase IT efficiency and reduces costs as it uses outside air for primary cooling, removing the need for mechanical cooling devices, and is based on a modular design that can be used to make the ITPAC modules easy to pre-manufacture, ship and install onsite.

It dramatically reduces the typical datacenter carbon footprint and consumption of materials, such as water, concrete, steel, piping and copper, along with reducing additional carbon usage associated with the packaging and transporting of servers, equipment and supplies.

It also provides a plug-and-play infrastructure to enable the rapid deployment and refresh of servers both today and in the future. In terms of efficiency, many traditional datacenters operate with a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 2

"With its new headquarters, UNEP is at the forefront of the UN’s adoption of green IT," said Frank McCosker, managing director of Global Strategic Accounts at Microsoft. "With the building’s innovative use of design and technology, the UN’s Nairobi headquarters has the potential to deliver much-enhanced energy efficiency, but also will have the infrastructure in place to leverage more flexible and scalable technologies like cloud computing. We hope this building will be truly sustainable and will motivate others to become part of a community that is vital for a greener future."

Officially inaugurated by UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner on Thursday, the new office building in Nairobi is intended to produce as much energy as it consumes and is the first of its kind for the UN in Africa.

With IT often one of the most energy-intensive contributors to a building’s carbon footprint, the IT pre-assembled components (ITPAC) datacenter technology is critical to helping ensure the UN is able to achieve its green IT goals in Nairobi. Spearhead by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the data centre is touted to reduce the cost of expansion of data centres by 60 per cent. Kenya becomes the first country where such a facility has been installed after Dublin (Ireland) and Chicago (US) centres.

An IT Pre-Assembled Components (ITPAC) is a pre-manufactured, fully-assembled module that can be built with a focus on sustainable materials such as steel and aluminIum and can house as little as 400 servers and as many as 2,000 servers, significantly increasing flexibility and scalability".

The ITPAC is easy to assemble with the UNON one taking only a few hours to put up. It was shipped in just two days before the official launch on Thursday last week.

The innovation aims to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent when compared with the Microsoft business applications installed on-premise.

The ITPAC increases energy and IT efficiency by using fresh air for primary cooling while removing the need of a mechanical AC system.

†It reduces the need for water, concrete, steel, piping and copper which would have otherwise been used in a regular data centre. All the operations, diagnostics and operations of the ITPAC a

The total savings though will depend on how much UNEP will utilise the server space, the weather conditions and the computing capacity availed.

The ITPAC is manufactured from materials which are 98 per cent recyclable and in case of any failure, the facility will be able to run on emergency mode and display the appropriate warnings.

"At the UN, we are committed to making our operations more environmentally friendly. Green IT policies have been essential in ensuring our new building is carbon neutral, and the ITPAC datacenter has been critical in achieving this goal," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP.

"The ITPAC, manufactured by Microsoft partner Saiver, should not only dramatically reduce energy costs, it should provide for flexible IT capability through cloud computing supported by state-of-the-art datacenter technology," reads a statement by Microsoft in part.

Physical offices have not evolved much over the years, despite advances in technology, but cloud computing is facilitating a new approach to flexible working, which in turn is allowing organizations to respond better to the new challenges of a global market.

In addition, by utilizing the latest cloud computing technologies, organizations such as UNEP may be able to further reduce energy use and carbon emissions.

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