Greening up data centers could matter

Pike Research releases a new report that says the use of green technologies will significantly reduce data center greenhouse gas emissions.

A new report on green technologies estimates that their use could limit total data center greenhouse gas emissions by 13 percent through 2016. The report, “Green Data Centers” from Pike Research, explores global green data center trends with regional forecasts for market size and opportunities.

Data center efficiencies – and ways to reduce their energy footprints – continue to top IT executives’ agendas. Budgets remain tight and companies dislike having to spend their hard-earned cash on operational expenses that do little for top-line growth (except, well, keep the lights on), and data center operators are finding it tough to keep energy demand in check while continuing to grow their capacity. The rising price of electricity, greenhouse gas emissions, IT improvements, cloud computing, virtualization, large advances in cooling techniques and improvements in monitoring and management solutions are all driving the need to reduce energy consumption, according to a press release issued by Pike Research about the new study. Those are combined with the fact that today’s data center industry consumes around 1.5% of the world’s energy.

According to the new report, if energy efficient data center technologies and best practices are widely the growth of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from data centers could be significantly reduced over the next several years. The research firm says that if current trends continue, GHG emissions from data centers are expected to total 1326 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent. But green data center best practices could reduce that total to 1156 tons, a difference of 13% compared to the business-as-usual trend, according to firm’s analysis.

“The drive toward green data centers is a response to business requirements to reduce costs across the company as well as a response to environmental concerns,” research director Eric Woods said in a prepared statement. “Within the data center environment, that translates to a mandate to reduce energy consumption, which in turn is driving innovation. Data center operators are exploring new ideas related to business models, facility construction, layout and design, air flow dynamics, new technology, and monitoring and management tools.”

Pike Research forecasts that the green data center will offer an annual market opportunity that exceeds $45 billion worldwide by 2016. The Asia Pacific region is projected to have the highest revenue growth through 2016, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just under 30% between 2011 and 2016. Double-digit revenue growth is also projected for Europe and North America (CAGRs of almost 27% for both markets).

Interestingly, tech companies that are seemingly tackling the environmental impact of their data centers are taking heat from Greenpeace. The international environmental organization this month released its report, How Clean is Your Cloud?, on energy consumption and energy sourcing in the data centers of some of the largest tech companies. The report looks at the data center deployments of 14 of the leading players in the market. You can download the full report here.

Greenpeace doesn’t hold back, and few – if any – of the technology companies included in the report appear exceptional in their green efforts. Yahoo fared the best, while Apple took a tough beating. I’ll delve more into the report in a blog to follow.

Meanwhile, I’d like to hear from you… what are you all doing in your organizations to “green” up your data center act? And do you think it matters?

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