Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Green Data Centre Survey

US company Digital Realty Trust, which describes itself as a leading owner and manager of corporate and Internet gateway data centres, has released the findings of surveys in the US and Europe of green trends in the data centre industry. The US survey headlines are:

- A total of 51% of companies have a green data centre strategy, down from 55% when the survey was conducted last year.

- Last year 75% referred to a lack of clear industry standards for green data centres. This year the figure is up to 82%. In the absence of any standards the majority look to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System from the US Green Building Council for guidance. The Green Grid was also cited as providing some guidance.

- The better news was that of those who do have a strategy 82% (a similar figure to last year) have a holistic approach, i.e. including both IT hardware and the facilities in which they are housed.

In Europe the situation looks a little better:

- In all 60% of respondents had a green data centre strategy, with particular momentum in the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Ireland.

- There was a similar view with regard to the holistic approach, including both IT equipment and facilities.

- There were similar concerns about standards, with respondents concerned about the lack of a clear leader among standards bodies.

- Being 'Green will become an essential selection criteria for vendors within the next two years for 70% of respondents.

There are a some interesting points here with implications beyond just the data centre. Firstly, Europe seems to be ahead of the US in its attention and concern about Green issues, which is no surprise given Europe's greater historic interest in the environment and current moves to regional and national legislation.

Secondly, standards are certainly a big issue across all environmental efforts. Unfortunately it's clear that a lot of corporations are holding back on actions to go green because of a lack of clear understanding of what should be done, how it can be measured, what targets to aim for, etc. In the IT area users have had their fingers burned before (e.g. Y2K) and don't want to jump too soon. Some IT services companies are being similarly cautious about encouraging their clients for fear of getting it wrong themselves. One can understand the caution, but climate change needs early action. Guidance is urgently needed but it will take time for de facto standards to emerge.

Thirdly, the fall off of US companies with a Green strategy (historic figures are not available for Europe) may well be due to this confusion about what to do, but is almost certainly also compounded by the 'credit crunch' which is having an impact on the US and European economies. At this time in the economic cycle companies are even less likely to take any action where the long-term benefit is less than certain.

© The Green IT Review

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