Uptime Institute Finds Data Center Outages Cost More • The Register

Data center operators worldwide are largely unprepared for sustainability requirements, although the industry expects new regulations in many regions. Meanwhile, outages are becoming ever more costly and advances in energy efficiency have stalled.

These results come from the Uptime Institute Global Data Center Survey 2022that brings together the experiences of data center owners and operators around the world, including some responsible for managing infrastructure in the world’s largest IT organizations.

According to the report, creating a more environmentally sustainable footprint is a major challenge that many operators are currently grappling with. However, it found that most operators do not currently track and report key environmental data metrics, although the majority (63 percent) expect regulators in their region to require data centers to publicly report environmental data within the next five years.

According to the Uptime Institute, sustainability is a growing concern that has competed with operator resilience since 2020. But while 85 percent of respondents say they report their total data center power consumption and 73 percent report efficiency metrics such as Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), only 37 percent say they collect data on carbon emissions, and just 39 percent of respondents currently report theirs data on water consumption.

what about water

The number of respondents even reporting on water use has actually fallen since last year, but the Uptime Institute attributes this to the latest survey having a larger and more diverse sample than previous years, rather than water efficiency being more important loses.

Most operators who do not track water use choose not to because there is no business justification, indicating that doing so is a low priority for management in terms of cost, risk or environmental considerations. This is despite a growing number of government agencies rejecting data center developments unless they are designed for minimal direct water use, which is likely to become a major consideration for future data center designs.

The Uptime Institute therefore recommends that all operators establish plans to report on all carbon emissions associated with their data centres, whether or not there is a direct legal obligation, and that data on water consumption is also collected.

Other findings are that operators are reporting fewer disruptive outages than before. However, the picture is mixed as many failures are now often partial or distributed.

Data from the Uptime Institute shows that the number of outages around the world is increasing every year, but the frequency is not increasing as fast as the global footprint of data centers. In other words, the failure rate per unit of capacity actually decreases. The report says that for 2022, 60 percent of operators surveyed had an outage in the past three years, up from 69 percent in 2021 and 78 percent in 2020.

There is also evidence that the impact of some outages is diminishing, with 66 percent of operators surveyed reporting that the biggest impact of an outage over the last three years was either minimal or negligible.

But while there are less severe outages, those that do occur are becoming increasingly costly. A quarter of respondents indicated that the most recent outage cost more than $1 million in direct and indirect costs. This is a significant increase from 2021 and continues a clear trend, according to the Uptime Institute, with another 45 percent saying their most recent outage cost between $100,000 and $1 million.

One reason for the rising cost of outages is the increasing reliance on digital services and the data center for organizations’ day-to-day business activities. Other factors include inflation, fines, breaches of service level agreements, labor costs, callouts and the cost of replacement equipment.

Power supply problems

As in previous Datacenter Survey reports, on-site power issues were identified as the single largest cause of significant site outages. Three other common causes are cooling failures, IT system/software failures and network problems.

The Uptime Institute claims that other research it has published indicates that the main causes of power outages are uninterruptible power supply failures, with failure of the transfer mechanism from mains to a backup power source and generator failures both being less common.

Power grid outages were not considered the main cause of outages, but the report says a slight increase in power-related outages in recent years may correlate with deteriorating grid reliability in some regions.

The report also found that improvements in PUE have virtually stalled since 2014, after the Uptime Institute began tracking cooling, power distribution, and other secondary functions consumed by IT equipment in 2007.

However, the rapid progress between 2007 and 2014 reflects the introduction of cost-effective efficiency measures such as hot/cold air containment, optimized cooling controls and increased air supply temperatures, the report says. Efficiency increases beyond this may not have been economically or technically feasible for many older data centers.

Research also shows that air cooling is still dominant in data centers, even in new facilities, although factors are now at play that should lead to more widespread adoption of techniques such as direct liquid cooling, including upcoming server processors with higher thermal performance requirements that the Industry could see average PUE increase before further improvements.

To support this, the report anticipates that rack power density is increasing across all data center segments, with 40 percent of organizations operating facilities larger than 5MW saying their power density is increasing rapidly.

The Uptime Institute says nearly half of the largest 10MW+ installations have racks over 20kW, and almost one in five runs some racks over 40kW. A small but growing number of data centers now host some cabinets over 70kW, mostly focused on the largest facilities.

The lifespan of servers is also increasing and often exceeds the three to five years recommended by the manufacturer. According to the report, in 2015 only 34 percent of respondents had servers running for five years or more, but by 2022 that proportion has risen to 52 percent.

Supply bottlenecks for semiconductors are cited as one reason, which lead to longer delivery times for some IT hardware. However, most major cloud operators have done so previously reported that they have extended the lifespan of at least some of their servers to save costs. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/09/21/uptime_institute_datacenter_outages/ Uptime Institute Finds Data Center Outages Cost More • The Register

Laura Coffey

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