Data centres, commonly called server farms, are places designed to keep operational computer equipment including, among other things, servers, data storage devices (storage) and network infrastructure. Such places gather together enormous amounts of information, and therefore use a great deal of energy. For example, Google’s demand for electricity is the equivalent of the average output of two traditional coal plants. In 2015, the corporation had about 24 server farms around the world, each using between 30 and 50 megawatts. The Data Centre Knowledge service estimated that two Google searches theoretically produce as much carbon dioxide as an energy saving lightbulb lit constantly for 60 seconds, or as a kilometre drive in a car. In contrast, listing and running a complete auction on Allegro translates to the production of 18 grams of CO2. Over the last decade, however, it great emphasis has also been placed on ecology, behind which also lies energy saving.
An important problem for engineers to solve is how to provide higher performance equipment with low energy consumption. This has, in part, been achieved in relation to available computing power. A few years ago, 126 servers were required to carry out 5.1 million operations. Today, the same number of operations can be carried out with just 17 servers – a dramatic reduction of up to 80%.
Modern machines are smaller, more efficient and safer for data storage. Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, announced in 2014 that the company had more than a million servers storing data. SharePoint Central Administration deals with, among other things, security issues and protection. It is installed on one server in the farm, allows information to be managed via a centralised interface, and offers technical configuration in the event of failure.