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Green Data Center Adoption Stalls

digital_realty_trust_logo2.jpgFifty-one percent of companies have a green data center strategy, according to a Digital Realty Trust survey of senior decision makers at leading North American corporations who are directly responsible for data center strategy. That’s a decline since the 2007 study when 55 percent of companies answered the question affirmatively. The result indicates that corporate adoption of green data center strategies has stalled or taken a step back since last year.

Digital Realty Trust has also published results from a Europe-focused study showing that 60 percent of European companies have green data center plans, more than 70 percent plan to make green upgrades to existing facilities, and a significant portion have already begun requiring their data center vendors to have a green strategy that meets their standards.

One reason could be that companies are setting their sights on other efficiency initiatives – ones that don’t involve data centers or the input of tech executives. Research (PDF) carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that 57 percent of international companies have a strategy to reduce the carbon produced by their business activities, ITPro reports. However, less than half of those companies mentioned information and communications technology (ICT) as part of their plans to cut CO2 emissions.

And CIOs are not as heavily involved in environmental policy as they could be. Only half of businesses consult their CIO when they draw up carbon reduction strategies, according to the EIU research.

The Digital Realty Trust survey also finds that there is more ambiguity than clarity in the industry. Eighty-two percent of companies say there is no clear industry standard for green datacenters. This figure is up from 75 percent in 2007.

At Green Grid’s first Technical Forum earlier this year, attendees called for a ratings standard that would apply to their data centers, much like the LEED standard for buildings. Specifically, companies consolidating their data centers want metrics to rate energy efficiency and monitor energy consumption in multivendor environments.

One area where there was broad agreement among the Digital Reality Trust survey takers in North America was in what elements an industry standard should comprise. The top two responses were:

  • 94 percent agreed that a standard should outline how to achieve efficient power usage (i.e. maximizing energy delivered to IT equipment by the facility).
  • 83 percent agreed that a standard should also outline how to enhance HVAC systems to use energy more efficiently.

The European study finds that companies in those countries see a similar lack of industry standards, an issue that could slow momentum as it appears to have done in North America.

Of the North American companies that do have a green data center strategy, 82 percent are taking a holistic approach that encompasses not only servers and other data center hardware, but also facility design and data center operations. This is nearly identical to the 2007 metric (81 percent), indicating that companies understand the value of taking a comprehensive approach that maximizes energy efficiency by addressing not just the equipment in the datacenter, but the facility itself.

Companies are focusing on directly reducing their data center energy consumption rather than displacing it through carbon credits solutions – only 18 percent of companies are planning to include carbon credits in their green data center plans, down from a figure of 25 percent in 2007.

The overall market for green IT services will peak at $4.8 billion in 2013, according to a recent Forrester report. It’s a $500 million market for 2008, but spending on green IT services among enterprise users will grow by 60 percent annually over the next five years.

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