3Q 2021

Data Centers: Anticipating Changes in the Power Ecosystem

The past decade has seen several profound changes at data centers and in IT management. There are more generation sources available to provide the large amount of power needed to run data centers. In addition, cloud computing has exploded, shifting much of the processing load from IT department-run data centers to hyperscale-size computer centers operated by cloud providers. Computer hardware and software tools that support data centers have become more sophisticated and efficient. One thing that has not changed is the expectation by users that IT services will be provided with high reliability.

The power grids have also been going through important changes since 2010. Power utilities have been integrating more non-dispatchable renewables for generation and incorporating greater intelligence to better manage the grid. In addition to the new technology, regulators in many regions are supporting non‑traditional pricing scenarios. Many regulators encourage a greater use of renewable energy, reduced costs, and socially desirable outcomes. One thing that has not changed is the expectation that utilities will provide service with high reliability at a reasonable cost.

This Guidehouse Insights looks at how organizations shifting processing loads to the cloud are using new strategies to maintain positive trends. This report reviews data center approaches to changes in the power ecosystem and presents the benefits and challenges of these efforts. Successful integration of innovative new technology shows promise for stakeholders and has the potential to enable lower costs for both data centers and the power value chain by shifting loads to low cost and more environmentally friendly power sources.

Pages 15
Tables | Charts | Figures 3
  • How are organizations’ data centers control power costs expected to shift moving forward?
  • What is next for data centers seeking to become more green and environmentally friendly?
  • How can data centers lower costs by shifting loads to locations with lower energy prices or greener energy?
  • Why should data center information management solutions manufacturers partner with microgrid solutions providers and virtualization software manufacturers?
  • Why should organizations reconsider HVAC systems within existing data centers?
  • Energy management system vendors
  • Cloud service providers
  • Data center information management solutions providers
  • Utilities
  • Investor community

Spark

Context

Recommendations

New Data Center Tools Enable Power Markets to Challenge IT Norms

The Grid Remains the Primary Power Source for Data Centers

Grid Technology and Power Pricing Are Evolving for Data Centers

The Needs for Managing Power Have Increased

Virtualization Has Led to Needing Fewer Servers and Lower Power Usage

DICM Tools Support Professional Management of IT Resources

Innovations Improve Uptime and Reduce Costs and Emissions

New Options for Managing Power Give Data Centers Uptime Control

Automated Load Shifting Enhancements Provide Benefits

Cooling Needs Will Change for Traditional and Hyperscale Data Centers

Data Centers Can Copy Cloud Providers to Improve Performance

Focus on Internal Operations and Passively Receiving External Inputs

Leveraging Successful Innovations Is Advantageous

Data Centers Should Actively Embrace the Evolving Power Environment

IT Solutions Vendors Should Build Interfaces and Then Partnerships

Utilities Must Partner with Data Centers within Their Territory

  • Primary Cause of Most Recent Significant Incident or Data Center Outage per Respondents to the 2020 Uptime Institute Data Center Survey
  • LMPs in the San Joaquin Valley, California: June 1, 2021
  • Microgrid Elements for Data Centers
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