At PTC’22: Reunite. Rethink. Renew., Pacific Telecommunications Council’s annual conference held in January, we saw leaders and innovators from across the global communications industry gather for a four-day thought leadership and networking event.
Craig Pennington, Oracle’s Vice President of Data Centre Engineering, attended PCT’22 to provide his perspective on the eminence of sustainability in the hyper centre data world. Craig joined Jonathan Berney (COO & Co-Founder at Chayora Holdings), and co-panelists Sunil Gupta (CEO & Co-Founder at Yotta Infrastructure Solutions) and Dave Sterlace (Head of Technology Global Data Centre Solutions at ABB) to discuss the sustainability challenges that hyperscalers are confronting.
Pennington gave participants an insight into Oracle’s ambitious sustainability directives and goals regarding carbon neutrality of its global operations by 2025, and Net Zero by 2050 (with 50% decarbonisation by 2030). The main obstacle to achieving these goals is Oracle’s burgeoning data centre growth, with an additional 20 regions expected to open before the end of this financial year. Whilst high-level sustainable growth is indeed difficult, Pennington affirmed that finding equilibrium between the two is not impossible. He explained that three main drivers will aid Oracle in successfully and sustainably growing their data centre business: efficient design, intentional citation, and extensive reuse/recycling at the end of products’ lifecycles.
The attitudes within the industry towards sustainability and enforcing viable solutions were chewed over by the panellists. Sterlace remarked on the vast effort that is being put into improving the energy-efficiency of data centres by hyperscalers. Over the last few years, sustainability has quickly gone from a ‘nice-to-have’ addition, to an absolute imperative.
In terms of solutions, Sterlace noted the importance of conscientious selection of partnerships with suppliers and vendors. 90-95% of greenhouse gas emissions can come from second and third parties, so choosing these relationships cautiously is vital. Pennington too stressed that work must not only be done on the design-front, but also from the supply chain side.
The panel’s objective was to look at country-level policies and company practices that are driving sustainable change in China, the US, and India. Gupta elucidated the state of sustainability in the Indian hyper centre market for participants. India has not yet reached its desired capacity for data centres, so hyperscalers’ current interests are in facilitating and incentivising operators to construct within the country. Scaling up to be able to compete with American and European markets is the primary focus, which leaves the sustainability narrative to take a backseat approach.
However, Gupta is confident that once the number of data centres operating within India increases, the industry will follow suit with the mass adoption of green power soon after. The Indian government is playing a part in encouraging this, by offering enhanced subsidies to corporations building sustainable data centres, and mandating that state utility providers provide at least 25% green power.
Towards the end of the session, Pennington described his desires for Oracle from a power technology and sustainability standpoint. He wants data centres to be thought of as ‘micro-grids’ in their own right, and to see them interacting more with local grids in the hope that they become a greater part of the general delivery process in that local community. He also expressed his wishes to see greater adoption of liquid cooling and driving up densities to minimise Oracle’s energy wastage and footprint.
Overall, now is a promising time for sustainability in the hyper centre data world. With so many innovative technologies coming to the forefront, coupled with the growing pressures from governments and within industries for change, we are seeing new strides in climate mitigation and carbon reduction efforts. The way data centres operate is reforming for the better, and Oracle is inspired to continue driving these efforts.
Oracle UK Public Sector