How More of us can be Google in our Data Centres

Leading the field in circular economy research, cost and energy saving innovation, Google seems to have it all when it comes to being lean and green in the Tech sector. Do you believe your organisation is too under resourced to capitalise on these ideals? Think again. Solutions are out there… and this is how to find them.

What is a circular economy anyway?

A Circular Economy is a move towards a system that can sustain itself in terms of energy and material usage. The traditional focus for data centres has been on energy. Whether it is the reduction of Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) or the use of solar, wind or biofuel, many companies focus on carbon emissions in the day to day functioning of facilities. However, efficient cooling and building design is not the complete story when it comes to the carbon -  or financial - cost of a data centre.

Inefficient use of compute resources has a far greater effect on efficiency than PUE, so optimising the use of servers with software designed storage is an excellent way of reducing excess carbon output and saving money. Companies like Google have developed their own architecture for scheduling and managing applications, but there is a range of software out there that can yield similar results.

What does Google have to say?

When it comes to updating systems, older servers and component parts offer a cost-effective solution. Rather than using accounting life to dictate refresh cycles, Google is happy to reuse and refurbish in order to carry out repairs and upgrades in their data centres. It also remanufactures servers with these parts.  In 2015, 75% of components used in the spares programme were refurbished inventory. The same year, 52% of components consumed in its Machine Upgrades program were refurbished inventory and 19% of servers deployed were remanufactured machines.

Google is able to do this thanks to the size of the organisation and the capacity for onsite storage. Smaller companies with less space onsite can opt to go to market instead. Specialist refurbishment companies offer large stock-holding and same day delivery, with the largest offering delivery worldwide thanks to multiple stock locations. Even better, they offer great warranty options, equivalent to those of manufacturers.

What does “refurbished” mean exactly?

Refurbishment means restoring equipment to factory condition so it can be used elsewhere. Given the fast rate of change in IT, the needs of any system usually change far more quickly than the length of product life. Refurbished product is also a good solution for edge computing, backup and failover. 

What is the refurbishing process?

This depends on the product or component. Storage devices, for example, need to be data wiped using specialist data erasure software. All equipment undergoes visual inspection, precision cleaning, and functional testing. Servers are stripped back down to component parts and logged according to part number and specification. These can either be resold as single items or reconfigured according to the new environment they will be working in.

What should we look for?

Quality, availability and guarantees. Buying refurbished should be an economical but reliable solution, so look for a company that offers at least a three-year warranty. Check how much inventory the company holds as an indicator of how quickly you can get the products you need. Also look for expertise – ISO accreditations are a good indicator of quality controls, but add-ons like a configure-to-order service are assurance of expertise.