How Data Centers are Pioneering Green Technology
When you think of March, you think of St. Patrick’s Day. And what color immediately comes to mind? Green. But today, the color green has taken on a brand new significance as the symbol of the booming green energy movement. That has become a vital component of Europe’s economy—including the nation where St. Patrick’s Day originated. As the preeminent data center provider in Europe, Interxion (NYSE: INXN) is leading the charge in both efficient energy practices and the use of renewable energy, showing that being green is a crucial way to win customers in Europe.
Demonstrating green practices can be a notable business differentiator for service providers looking to sell services to the European market. Europeans care strongly about sustainability: slightly more than eight in ten E.U. citizens felt that environmental impact was an important element when deciding which products to buy. One example of this practice is Taxi Stockholm – who has an initiative to be completely free by 2025, an initiative that extends to their data center and IT service provider Devinix as well. So, for U.S. companies that are trying to take advantage of the European market, colocating in data centers committed to both using green technology and innovating new efficiency measures is a way to distinguish themselves from their competitors.
At Interxion, energy efficiency is a company-wide policy, with energy-saving measures built right into its data centers. For more than 20 years Interxion has pioneered energy-saving designs and harnessed everything from arctic winds to underground aquifers to the Baltic Sea to reduce its energy use and thus reduce its carbon footprint.
For data center providers, much of the daily operations involve ensuring the equipment is kept cool to ensure customers’ mission critical applications are kept running 24/7/365. Interxion is innovating and implementing advanced energy-efficient cooling technologies: for example, free-cooling reduces the use of electricity, which is still predominantly produced from conventional fuels. These energy efficiency measures are examples of Interxion making a positive environmental contribution for its industry and its customers.
In addition to energy efficiency, Interxion pioneered the use of 100% sustainable energy sources, including water, solar, and wind to power its data centers across Europe. And between 2017 and 2019, Interxion chose to redeem all of its data centers’ electricity usage in the form of renewable energy produced in Europe, either via supplier’s green tariffs or Guarantees of Origin.
Interxion has played a critical role in the sustainability efforts of its host cities. A notable example is Stockholm: in the 1970s, Stockholm took energy efficiency to a new level by building infrastructure that reused excess heat to warm households in the city. Interxion is a key partner in this groundbreaking initiative: together with Stockholm Exergi, Interxion is transferring the excess heat energy into residential heating. In 2018, Germany’s two biggest TV networks traveled to Interxion’s Stockholm facility to film documentaries about the city’s power-saving technology with hopes that other countries or cities will soon adopt similar practices.
In Denmark, Interxion has developed groundwater cooling as an energy-saving measure. Previously, cooling in the summer months had been based on traditional refrigeration machines that used a lot of power. But Interxion worked with the city of Ballerup to develop a groundwater-based cooling system that can replace the traditional refrigerants with geo-energy. The result is a system that, summer and winter, can always provide sufficient cooling while significantly reducing energy consumption.
Denmark and the whole Nordic region have evolved into Europe’s leaders in energy efficiency. Not only are Interxion’s Nordic facilities designed specifically with byproducts like excess heat in mind, they are among the only data center providers covering the whole of Europe with 100% sustainable energy. Hyperscalers like Apple and Google have applauded the Nordics for their energy efficient data centers.
The great supply of power from sustainable sources like hydro- and wind power combined with the cold climate makes the Nordics an ideal place for building sustainable data centers. Due to this and a fast-growing market in Northern Europe, Interxion is seeing an increased number of hyperscale data center projects emerging in both Denmark and Sweden.
Green-laden Ireland is another region in Europe where energy efficiency is thriving. The Emerald Isle’s temperate climate makes it perfectly suited for free-air cooling, which uses approximately 40% less electricity than typical cooling methods. In addition to energy efficiency, Ireland is a leader in sustainable energy: 26% of the energy that Ireland produced in 2016 came from sustainable sources. It also possesses the third-highest wind penetration in the world. In fact, Ireland has set a target of having 40% of all its energy generated from renewable sources by 2020. It’s quite ambitious, but completely reachable.
In addition to sustainable energy, Interxion’s Ireland data centers are making major contributions in energy efficiency. Interxion has pioneered new approaches to data center design and management, including improvements around power usage effectiveness and the industry's first-ever modular approach to data center design. Interxion even designed its newest Ireland data center DUB3 with a specific focus on energy-saving modular architecture, incorporating cooling and maximum efﬁciency components.
Interxion’s efficient and sustainable facilities have changed the conversation around data centers. Once feared as a source of pollution, data centers are now embraced for their energy contributions to surrounding communities. Enterprises that wish to boost their business in energy-conscious Europe have also embraced data centers equipped with green technology. With such enormous benefits to the data center industry, environment, and local communities, it is easy to imagine Interxion’s green energy initiative is a win for all.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”