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Why data center cooling will become a hot topic in SEA

  • Southeast Asia has some of the fastest-growing datacentre markets in the Asia-Pacific region, but data center sustainability remains a work in progress

Southeast Asia is fast becoming one of the fastest-growing data center regions in the whole of the Asia Pacific (APAC) area, with providers eager to keep pace with the data storage expectations of tech-centric organizations.

In fact, the market is set to top worth of US$3.4 billion within the next four years, according to data from Cushman & Wakefield.

Nonetheless, and despite the tech sector increasingly in the spotlight for its negative environmental impact, a combination of lacking environmental awareness, lack of capital, and lack of cooperation from stakeholders is delaying an industry-wide drive to make facilities sustainable.

A recent survey of 208 organizations for Digital Realty in Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia found that 66% of Southeast Asian enterprise respondents believe that energy efficiency and sustainability are important factors when choosing a data center provider. But those concerns were outweighed by other factors such as reliability and security, pricing, scalability, and network connectivity.

Within the coming years, however, sustainability will become a core differentiator between data center providers, particularly as leading tech companies around the world – such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple – set standards with ambitious carbon neutral and zero sustainability goals, and as more advanced energy-efficient technology is developed.

As the market evolves and the region matures, clients will start to expect more on the sustainability front from their data service providers. This is reflected in the survey findings too, where 89% of respondents said they think sustainability will be an important consideration when choosing data center providers by 2025.

“Southeast Asia is home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and its rapid development will accelerate the demand for data services,” noted Jessica Cheam, managing director of Eco-Business, which conducted the study on behalf of Digital Realty.

One of the key factors that will impact sustainability and energy efficiency discussions is the data center cooling issue, which presently represents between 35-40% of the total data center energy consumption. Energy-efficient cooling technologies and processes like liquid cooling represent a significant opportunity for data center operators to reduce energy usage and costs.

“Against this backdrop, it is crucial that data center providers find a way to meet this need while ensuring they are playing a part in helping countries meet their climate targets,” said Cheam.

Digital Realty’s senior director of sustainability, Aaron Binkley, agreed: “It is encouraging to see that most customers in the region view sustainability as a key consideration when choosing a data center provider,” said Binkley. “We believe cooling technology will be a game-changer for data centers, especially in Southeast Asia’s tropical climate.”