Organisations today have learnt to harness the power of data and hence are leveraging data centres actively. However, it is high time when we also lay emphasis on its adverse impacts on the environment. Therefore, many data centre players and even customers are advocating the environment-friendly versions of the tech also known as the ‘Green Data Centres’. Khalid Wani, Senior Director – Sales, India, Western Digital, in an exclusive interview with CRN India, opens up on green data centres and underlines the significance and the dire need for such environment-friendly tech.
You have over two decades of experience in marketing profiles for IT companies in India. How have you witnessed the transition of enterprises from traditional to digital? How did the entry of data centres change the game altogether?
The marketing landscape has undergone a significant transformation in the digital age, prompting businesses to adapt their strategies accordingly. Data Centres (DC) have emerged as critical infrastructure, allowing businesses to leverage the potential of data.
With advancements in technology, businesses have recognised the need to adapt to the changing landscape and utilise digital platforms to reach their target audience, improve operational efficiency, and maintain competitiveness. As a result, digital transformation has been a significant step for enterprises.
Data centres have played a crucial role in revolutionising this transition, serving as the backbone of digital transformation. They enable enterprises to scale their operations, enhance agility, and unlock new opportunities in the digital landscape. With the increasing adoption of data-driven technologies like AI, ML, and IoT, data centers have become vital enablers for innovation and growth.
Consequently, demand for well-structured data storage is surging. With over a billion mobile phones and over 700 million internet subscribers armed with affordable data services, India’s digital landscape is expanding rapidly. It is projected that the size of India’s digital economy will reach $1 trillion by 2025. Western Digital is a leading data infrastructure company and is well-positioned to cater to these evolving needs.
We are excited to be at the forefront of this transformative journey, offering state-of-the-art storage and data solutions to support businesses in their digital evolution.
Today, while growing with technology we also witness the dark side of the industrial age. With the heavy usage of technology, waste production has increased manifold. It is high time we need to address the environmental concerns as well. What’s your take on this? What are Green Data Centres? Are these a solution to cope with environmental challenges or just a less heat-dissipating substitute?
At Western Digital, we are committed to protecting and preserving our planet. And, it starts with how we innovate, design, and package our products — from the first use to the last. To lessen the environmental impact, we have undertaken several measures, including the development of energy-efficient storage systems, the establishment of e-waste management programs, and the promotion of responsible material sourcing.
With the growing size of the DC market, the capital and operational costs, including real estate and electricity, are also bound to go up. In view of this fact, most DCs are on a mission to have as minimal environmental impact as possible and two of the biggest culprits are power and cooling. Realising this, several companies in India have started setting up greener data centres. One effective way to increase efficiency is to pack more density into a given space or use higher-density hard disk drives (HDDs) in DCs. Western Digital offers the Ultrastar DC HC570 CMR HDD with up to 22TB capacity. Our Ultrastar Data102 storage platform (JBOD) is configured with up to 102 HDDs in a compact and efficient form factor and offers up to 2.2PB of raw storage in 4U using the company’s 22TB HDDs.
Through these technological advancements, Western Digital aims to address energy consumption and TCO challenges while contributing to the sustainability and operational effectiveness of data centres in India and globally.
How can we ensure sustainable growth and development while actively adopting new technologies? How is Western Digital contributing towards it?
Western Digital has already set aggressive goals and achieved outstanding results, including a 14 percent decrease in Scope 1 and 2 emissions from 2020 to 2022. We believe in collaborating with our partners, and consumers have a shared sustainable vision for the future.
As customer expectations for data continue to grow in terms of quantity, size, format, resolution, and application, Western Digital is at the forefront of innovation to meet these demands while prioritising sustainability. We have introduced a new generation of solutions that offer exceptional capacity, performance, and durability while minimising environmental impact. From design to end-of-life, Western Digital’s advancements are smarter, more efficient, and more sustainable than ever before.
Our global teams are actively involved in reducing the environmental impacts of products throughout their life cycles, encompassing development, manufacturing, distribution, usage, and disposal. By incorporating sustainable features and reducing environmental impact, Western Digital leads the way in developing innovative, high-performance devices.
One notable example is the recently launched 22TB Ultrastar DC HC570 CMR HDD, which stands as the first available drive of its capacity in the market. This drive, built on decades of technological innovation, addresses the data demands of cloud providers and hyperscale customers. Additionally, it also excels in sustainability performance, delivering reduced impacts per terabyte compared to previous product generations.
Another example is the SanDisk Ultra Eco USB which is Western Digital’s first eco flagship consumer product. The flash drive is made with over 70 percent recycled plastic, which leads to environmental savings in the form of reduced carbon emissions, water consumption, and energy usage compared to virgin plastic.
What are the major challenges that you faced while trying to make tech more environment-friendly?
Green data centres focus on the entire lifecycle of data centre equipment, including the manufacturing, operation, and end-of-life phases. Optimising the design and manufacturing processes to reduce resource consumption, implementing efficient maintenance and monitoring practices, and promoting responsible recycling or repurposing of retired equipment are key aspects of sustainable lifecycle management. However, coordinating and implementing these practices across the data centre infrastructure can be complex and challenging.
To succeed in today’s data-driven landscape, businesses must efficiently access and utilise data for innovation, decision-making, and cost optimisation. However, they face challenges related to energy consumption, e-waste management, sustainable materials sourcing, product lifecycle management, data centre efficiency, and collaboration for industry standards. Constructing and operating next-generation data centres that can address these challenges is crucial.
How do you see the evolving trends in the data centre industry in India vis-á-vis globally?
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a massive influx of data due to the increased usage of digital content through platforms like OTT, e-commerce, remote work, education, and banking.
Globally, we see a pattern of evolving trends in the data center industry, with a strong emphasis on sustainability, energy efficiency, and the adoption of emerging technologies. Organisations are striving to optimise their data centre operations, reduce environmental impact, and enhance performance through innovative storage solutions.
AI and ML technologies are being integrated into various aspects of data centre operations, including resource optimisation, predictive maintenance, workload management, and security. These technologies help automate and streamline processes, improve efficiency, and enable intelligent decision-making. Both in India and globally, data centres are leveraging AI and ML to enhance performance, reduce costs, and optimise energy consumption. These trends are transforming the data centre landscape and emphasising the increasing importance of data as a valuable asset worldwide.
Western Digital, as a leading provider of data storage solutions, is at the forefront of these industry trends. We continue to innovate and deliver cutting-edge technologies that empower businesses to unlock the full potential of their data while addressing the evolving needs of the data center industry, both in India and globally. Together with our partners and customers, we are shaping the future of data centres, driving efficiency, sustainability, and transformative possibilities in the digital era.