Study: Lack of Industry Standards Slows Datacenter Growth

Digital Realty Trust, Inc., an owner and manager of corporate and Internet gateway datacenters, reports that 51 percent of companies have a green datacenter strategy, a decline since the 2007 study when 55 percent of companies answered the question affirmatively. This indicates that corporate adoption of green datacenter strategies has stalled or perhaps taken a step back.

In addition, 82 percent of companies say there is no clear industry standard for green datacenters. This figure is up from 75 percent in 2007, indicating that there is more ambiguity than clarity in the industry.

The green datacenter trends are based on a survey of senior decision makers at leading North American corporations who are directly responsible for datacenter strategy, planning, and technology.

"When we conducted our first green datacenter study last year, respondents expressed concern about the lack of industry standards for green datacenters. The impact of that concern is very evident in this year's survey. Companies are looking for leadership and clarity on how to define a green datacenter, how to design their green datacenter plans, and how to put them into action," said Jim Smith, vice president of Engineering at Digital Realty Trust. "In the past, the question may have been how to convince companies of the value of green datacenters. The good news is that is no longer a problem. Companies are convinced. The challenge is that the datacenter industry needs to step up and show the way with clear standards."

The study found broad agreement on what elements an industry standard should comprise. The top two responses (at 94 percent and 83 percent, respectively) were:

A standard should outline how to achieve efficient power usage (maximizing energy delivered to information technology equipment by the facility).

A standard should outline how to enhance HVAC systems to use energy more efficiently.

In the absence of green datacenter standards, companies cite Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification as the best alternative. More than 60 percent of companies look to these general building standards as a model for their green datacenter initiatives. The Green Grid was cited as a resource for green datacenter initiatives, indicating that the consortium is gaining visibility and momentum in the industry.

Of the companies that do have a green datacenter strategy, 82 percent are taking a holistic approach that encompasses not only servers and other datacenter hardware, but also facility design and datacenter 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.

Only 18 percent of companies are planning to include carbon credits in their green datacenter plans, down from a figure of 25 percent in 2007. This indicates that companies are focusing on directly reducing their datacenter energy consumption rather than displacing it through carbon credits solutions.

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