Industrial digitalisation leader helps datacentre operators optimise power utilisation to reduce TCO by up to 35%

Using as many as 1,000 sensors embedded in HPE servers, integrated with ABB power management systems, and controlled with advanced HPE orchestration, ABB and HPE enable enterprises to dynamically optimise datacentre demand and power supply.

ABB Group

ABB is a pioneering technology leader that works closely with utility, industry, transportation and infrastructure customers to write the future of industrial digitalisation and realise value.

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ABB is a leader in digitally connected and enabled systems with an installed base of more than 70,000 control systems connecting 70 million devices. One of the largest engineering companies in the world, ABB is revolutionising datacentre energy optimisation, offering smart grid connections, off-grid electrification, power protection and power management software. Central to the company’s strategy is integrating its power optimisation systems with sensor-enabled servers. The goal is to create a data-driven, intelligently automated solution that balances datacentre operations with the most cost-efficient power sources in real time to maximise datacentre power efficiency for its customers.

  • ABB stands for groundbreaking innovations that are paving the way to the ongoing digital revolution

    Guido Jouret-Chief Digital Officer, ABB


Annual global revenue


Employees worldwide

Balancing act between datacentre demand and power supply

According to ABB’s assessments, worldwide datacentre energy consumption will triple from 40 gigawatts to at least 60 gigawatts in the next three years, while datacentre traffic will rise by 400 percent.


ABB has identified two key global trends facing its business: the shift towards renewables and the emergence of the industrial Internet of Things.

In power generation, renewables are transforming the energy mix, putting pressure on traditional producers to rethink their business models while lessening environmental impact and dramatically increasing grid complexity. The future grid will be far more complex with multiple feed-in points from traditional power plants to large-scale renewables on the supply side, and a coexistence of traditional demand patterns and new micro-grids and nano-grids on the demand side. Managing this complexity will require intelligently automated, digital power grids that can anticipate demand and supply patterns, while routing and transporting power to the ever-increasing number of consumption points of electricity.

On the automation side, advances in sensor technology, combined with ubiquitous connectivity and massive increases in the ability to process and store data, are enabling machines to become more and more intelligent, as well as to learn and to interact with humans in new ways. The basis for this is the industrial Internet of Things. In time, this will enable the next stage of industrial automation, in which machines and entire process chains learn to reason and take decisions, making processes self-regulating and self-optimising.

  • Advances in sensor technology, combined with ubiquitous connectivity and massive increases in our ability to process and store data, are enabling machines to become more and more intelligent, as well as to learn and to interact with humans in new ways.

    Guido Jouret-Chief Digital Officer, ABB

40 - 60GW

Data consumption energy usage by 2020


Growth of datacentre traffic over 3 years

How to ensure financial and environmental sustainability

If datacentres do not become more energy efficient, they threaten to overload the power infrastructure, which will have a profound impact on businesses and the general public.

As society becomes more digital, including business-to-business commerce and consumer lifestyles, demand for datacentre services increases dramatically. This means more computing capability, greater storage capacity, bigger network connections – all of which takes energy. 

One of the key challenges the datacentre industry faces is to stay relevant by supporting environmental and financial sustainability. 

For ABB, attacking this challenge requires a three-pronged approach. One is to enable data centres to do more with less. The second is to leverage new strategies in the electric grid to influence how the planet consumes energy. And the third is to ensure that when renewable energy is used, it’s used effectively and responsibly. 

Failure to address these challenges risks the industry being perceived as delivering services that are too costly, either financially or environmentally.

  • More and more, the solutions we bring to market must be about effectiveness and efficiency – they must help corporations do more with less.

    Ciaran Flanagan-Group Vice President and Global Head of Datacentre Business, ABB


Percentage of datacentre


TCO cost from energy usage

Gaining more intelligent control of power and datacentre resources

When c-level executives look for ways to drive IT cost efficiency, they typically focus on footprint and density: they try to cut the amount of hardware they purchase. However, this mindset overlooks one of the single largest cost factors: power and cooling represent 30 – 40% of datacentre TCO.

Balancing power management in a dynamic and rapidly growing datacentre environment is highly complex. ABB’s customers required a more automated, data-driven way to respond to rapidly growing datacentre demand while controlling energy costs and avoiding overloading the power infrastructure.

ABB’s power management software was only one part of the equation. The company also needed a way to bridge operations technology (OT) with information technology (IT) for intelligent control of both power and datacentre resources. In addition, an effective OT/IT solution had to be flexible and agile to balance energy supply and compute capacity on demand.

  • There’s a paradigm shift in how we must look at IT. We have to stop trying to predict what the future will look like and get used to the fact that it will be unpredictable. Therefore, we need business concepts and economic models that can deal with that.

    Ciaran Flanagan-Group Vice President and Global Head of Datacentre Business, ABB

IoT for the datacentre

In a joint strategic initiative between ABB and HPE, the two companies are leveraging their respective technologies to design, market and implement an intelligent, data-driven solution for enterprise customers to optimally balance datacentre workload and power resources.

The ABB/HPE solution uses as many as 1,000 sensors embedded in HPE servers as IoT for the datacentre. The sensors gather key parameters such as temperature and workload, and HPE advanced orchestration sends this data to ABB power management software, which analyses the data and responds as needed to optimise power usage.

Based on ABB analytics, the bidirectional HPE orchestration transmits instructions back to the datacentre and/or power equipment to achieve optimal balance – all in near real time. This may include switching off non-critical datacentre workloads or moving workloads to another datacentre with lower demand.

The solution also incorporates power cost models, enabling customers to choose the most cost-effective power sources, dynamically switching from grid to renewables, local DC generation, fuel cells or batteries.

HPE Pointnext services consultants architect and implement this solution for joint go-to-market customers, putting the intelligence into the solution by defining rules and configurations

  • This solution offers a whole new set of opportunities for customers running multimillion dollar data centres to gain new insights and become more efficient with maintenance, energy consumption and even capacity planning.

    Ciaran Flanagan-Group Vice President and Global Head of Datacentre Business, ABB


Reduction in total cost of ownership


Smaller hardware footprint


Savings in capital expenditures

Energy-smart enterprise datacentres

Intelligently connected IT reduces costs, optimises datacentre operations..

ABB’s datacentre customers can now dramatically improve their operational efficiency, reduce costs and manage a more sustainable energy strategy with both local and grid-wide impact. 


Customers can gain a real-time view of datacentre power demand based on workload, directly linked to the cost and source of energy. If the price of grid-supplied power rises during certain times of the day, the customer may use power stored on local micro-grids or hydrogen cells during peak periods, and switch back to the grid when rates are lower. The customer could also move workloads out of one datacentre to another one running during a low-rate period. 


Customers can also tie workloads to different power sources based on criticality. For example, less critical workloads may use intermittent sources such as solar, while critical workloads run on grid power or local generation. 


This enables ABB’s customer to minimise energy costs while maintaining full production operations.

  • When talking to customers, having somebody like Hewlett Packard Enterprise to develop the dialogue with the CIO office, with the IT organisation and with the people who are driving the demand, makes your story much more credible.

    Ciaran Flanagan-Group Vice President and Global Head of Datacentre Business, ABB

Solution recipe

This joint go-to-market solution leverages HPE OneView orchestration with HPE Edgeline IoT Systems, HPE Synergy and HPE Aruba to perform bidirectional data communication between datacentre IT resources and ABB power management software to optimise energy usage and datacentre efficiency. HPE Pointnext services architects and implements the solution for joint customers.

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