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How thirsty is your data centre?

The ecological impact of technology is often portrayed in a positive light. Virtual meetings mean carbon-hungry meetings don’t have to happen and even the time that would otherwise have been spent travelling can be put to better use.

However, the downsides are starting to emerge. Data centres take up a lot of power and, according to analytics firm Romonet, the amount of water being pumped into the cooling towers is getting beyond control.

The company is using its research to promote an analytics product that emulates a data centre’s power and water consumption to assess a true total cost of ownership (TCO)  – which is laudable enough if it works. It’s instructive to look at some of the facts, though.

The Wall Street Journal has reported, for example, that in California alone there are 800 data centres, and that they consume around 158,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of water every year. Often, the water is treated with a lot of chemicals before being let back into the wild.

“The efficient and judicious management of resources to power IT will only become more challenging in the next few years, and the ability to automate tasks and leverage analytics to drive decisions will be a competitive differentiator for data center managers,” said Jennifer Cooke, research director at research company IDC. “Romonet’s Platform meets a critical need in the market for increased visibility into resource usage and management, in particular water consumption and cost.”

This is a story that will only grow.