Data storage and protection seems like a very 21st century kind of topic. Yet it has been core to human civilisation from the first cave paintings 40,000 years ago to the archives and libraries of paper records maintained over the past 1500 years or so. 

The big data explosion of the past couple of decades is just a further evolution of this. But the sheer scale of the data that we store is hard to conceptualise. The word “big” scarcely does it justice. This year, the world will create, capture, consume and copy about 100 zettabytes of data. A zettabyte consists of eight sextillion bits – that’s an eight followed by 21 zeroes. If you imagine one bit of data as a pound coin, which is 3mm thick, 100 zettabytes of data piled on top of each other would be 255,000 light years long. That’s 60,000 times the distance to out neighbouring star system, Alpha Centauri.

The true nature of the cloud

20 years ago, we stored and backed up both personal and business data on hard drives, discs and tapes. These days, most people and businesses have done away with that and instead use cloud storage. It conjures images of data simply floating around above our heads, ready to be accessed when we need it. 

But of course, the cloud is really just a whole lot of data servers that are running 24/7, consuming electricity and needing to be kept cool. A hyperscale data centre is defined as one housing more than 5,000 servers. There are currently around 600 of these in the world, with about 50 new ones built every year. The largest, in Hohhot, China occupies more than 10 million square feet – about the size of 140 football pitches. 

Keeping the world’s data cool

When you consider the scale of the cloud and the fact that the amount of data is growing at a rate of 60 percent every year, two things become clear. The first is that we are placing massive faith in those data centres to keep our business and personal data safe and secure. The second is that operating and cooling all those servers must surely have a significant environmental impact. This is where System Uvex can make a real difference.

Various studies have attempted to calculate the power usage of the world’s data centres, and the total comes in at something between 200 and 400 terawatt-hours. That’s between one and two percent of global power consumption. All that power also creates heat, and when you consider the cooling needs in a traditional server room housing two or three servers, you start to get a picture of what it must be like in a hyperscale data centre with between 5,000 and 80,000 servers. 

Cooling demands water and unless that water is properly maintained, stagnation and legionella become major concerns. Chemical treatment brings extra environmental risks into play, as well as adding costs and complications in terms of health and safety training and PPE for handling the chemicals. System Uvex provides a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible alternative.  

System Uvex – the safe and responsible choice

UV purification is more environmentally responsible and eliminates the extra risks, costs and hassle associated with chemical alternatives. There is less that can go wrong, it is easy to monitor and it requires only occasional maintenance to check and periodically replace consumable components like the UV lamp.  

It’s an ideal solution for meeting the demands of the world’s data centres as they in turn strive to meet the demands of the world’s data consumers – and that is all of us. Last month, four brand new UVEX 9000-C-BRX systems were despatched from the factory and installed at a data centre in Sussex to manage their water purification needs at a single stroke. 

Keeping today’s data secure is as important as it has always been across the millennia. It’s just on a larger and more complex scale today than it was with those long-ago cave paintings. Water purification in the world’s growing number of data centres is just one part of the jigsaw, but it is a vital one. System Uvex provides a safe, low maintenance and environmentally responsible solution.