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Title: Energy efficiency in data centres and the barriers to further improvements : an interdisciplinary investigation
Author: Brady, Gemma Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 5540
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
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Creation, storage and sharing of data throughout the world is rapidly increasing alongside rising demands for access to the internet, communications and digital services, leading to increasing levels of energy consumption in data centres. Steps have already been taken towards lower energy consumption, however there is still some way to go. To gain a better understanding of what barriers there are to further energy saving, a cross-section of industry representatives were interviewed. Generally, it was found that efforts are being made to reduce energy consumption, albeit to varying degrees. Those interviewed face various problems when attempting to improve their energy consumption including financial difficulties, lack of communication, tenant/landlord type relationships and physical restrictions. The findings show that the data centre industry would benefit from better access to information such as which technologies or management methods to invest in and how other facilities have reduced energy, along with a greater knowledge of the problem of energy consumption. Metrics commonly used in the industry are not necessarily helping facilities to reach higher levels of energy efficiency, and are not suited to their purpose. A case study was conducted to critically assess the Power Utilisation Effectiveness (PUE) metric, the most commonly used metric, through using open source information. The work highlights the fact that whilst the metric is valuable to the industry in terms of creating awareness and competition between companies regarding energy use, it does not give a complete representation of energy efficiency. Crucially the metric also does not consider the energy use of the server, which forms the functional component of the data centre. By taking a closer look at the fans within a server and by focussing on this hidden parameter within the PUE measurement, experimental work in this thesis has also considered one technological way in which a data centre may save energy. Barriers such as those found in the interviews may however restrict such potential energy saving interventions. Overall, this thesis has provided evidence of barriers that may be preventing further energy savings in data centres and provided recommendations for improvement. The industry would benefit from a change in the way that metrics are employed to assess energy efficiency, and new tools to encourage better choices of which technologies and methodologies to employ. The PUE metric is useful to assess supporting infrastructure energy use during design and operation. However when assessing overall impacts of IT energy use, businesses need more indicators such as life cycle carbon emissions to be integrated into the overall energy assessment.
Supervisor: Kapur, Nik ; Summers, Jon ; Thompson, Harvey Sponsor: EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available