University of York shifts HPC workloads to Swedish EcoDataCenter colocation site in green IT push

An encouraging new conversation around sustainable IT, says Nordic CIO

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The University of York is set to migrate its high-performance computing (HPC) workloads to EcoDataCenter’s renewably powered colocation facility in Falun, Sweden, in support of the higher education institution’s net-zero goals.

With the university predicting a 300% increase in its data volumes over the coming years, it embarked on a search for a green-powered colocation facility with capacity to house its HPC workloads, and set its sights on providers based in the Nordics.

During its search for a suitable provider, it came across EcoDataCenter in Sweden and concluded that shifting the university’s HPC workloads to the renewably powered facility would reduce the carbon emissions related to its data use by 98%.

“Given the university’s strong commitment to net-zero and the fact that our high-performance computing facility will be used for climate research, we were happy to find a partner with a clear focus on environmental sustainability and the capability and maturity to deliver,” said Richard Fuller, assistant director at the University of York.

“Sustainable research IT is a key principle of the University of York,” said Emma Barnes, head of research IT at the University of York. “In addition to optimising the performance of both hardware and software, we need to look at the environmental impact of our work.

“We have to ask ourselves how we can contribute to positive change by making our supercomputing part of the ‘Green HPC’ movement.”

As well as hosting the university’s HPC workloads, both parties have jointly committed to raising awareness about how it’s possible to run energy-intensive HPC workloads in a sustainable way.

In the University of York’s case, it’s opting to do this by shifting its workloads to Sweden to take advantage of the abundance of green energy available in-country and its relatively cool climate – which makes it easier to regulate the temperature of datacentres.

“When the University of York visited our facility in Falun to learn more about how we construct datacentres, and how we view the role of datacentres in society and the circular economy, we found a common agenda in accelerating the green transition in digitisation,” said EcoDataCenter CEO Dan Andersson.

“The collaboration has already started, and we are seeing even more universities interested in what we can offer.”

For the best part of the past decade, Nordic colocation firms have been talking up their facilities as a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly location for enterprises to host their applications and workloads.

And, with concerns about space constraints, energy supply challenges and land costs in some of the more populated datacentre hubs in Europe emerging in recent years, this has led to more enterprises opting to shift their colocation requirements to firms in Norway, Sweden and Iceland, too.

On this point, Computer Weekly has previously reported on other customer wins for EcoDataCenter, which have included motoring giant BMW Group and high street fashion retailer H&M Group.

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