Energy concerns driving green data centres says Symantec

Cost concerns rather than environmental responsibility driving data greening initiatives in Middle East and worldwide according to report

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By  Mark Sutton Published  December 5, 2007

Over 70% Global 2000 businesses are considering green data centre initiatives, but only one in seven have actually begun implementing them, according to research from Symantec.

The Symantec Green Data Centre Research, indicated that data centre managers with large organizations worldwide have a growing awareness of environmental issues, but are primarily driven by concern over energy consumption and rising costs.

The company surveyed over 800 data centre managers in September, with respondents from Global 2000 companies and other large organizations, with an average of 30,000 plus employees.

The report said that 65% of respondents claimed that a sense of environmental responsibility was one motivator behind ‘greening' the data centre, although the strategies in use and the level of progress made varied considerably.

"Data centre managers are running out of space and energy costs are skyrocketing, so they are motivated to ‘green' the data centre for cost reduction and efficiency purposes," said Mark Bregman, executive vice president, chief technology officer, Symantec. "The report findings indicate that cost savings and constant business pressure to maintain performance and meet increasingly aggressive service level agreements are the main reasons for implementing many green strategies. For them it is beyond environmental concerns - it is about meeting business goals and reducing costs."

Server consolidation was the most common ‘green' strategy being considered or already carried out by 51% of respondents, with server virtualization (47%) and replacement of old equipment with energy efficient alternatives (44%) also popular strategies.

Respondents were also monitoring power consumption more carefully, using ‘alternative' water or fresh air based cooling systems and alternative power sources like solar power, as well as amending physical size and layout of data centres to minimize heat build up.

While the Middle East was not included in the study, data centre managers are following a similar line of thinking on green data centres as according to Omar Dajani, Manager of Systems Engineering, Symantec MENA.

"When we talk to CIOs running large enterprises and large data centres in the region, whether they are in Kuwait, or Riyadh or Cairo, they have developed a sense of environmental responsibility in varying degrees," he said. "Most customers are not yet thinking about adopting [green] strategies because of environmental responsibility, but because they have responsibilities and SLAs they have to meet, so Green Data Centre initiatives build on their current cost saving and ROI focus."

"The reality is that data centres in the region will keep expanding. The Middle East is booming and the sheer amount of data is growing globally. With almost all data centres, we quickly find that they run out of space, so they squeeze more machines together, they create more heat, so as a result they need more cooling which means greater energy demand and costs," he said

Dajani highlighted a number of software-based solutions that Symantec believes can provide a faster and more cost effective solutions to power consumption as opposed to costly or disruptive infrastructure or hardware modifications or upgrades, such as server and storage virtualization, power monitoring, and data de-duplication.

He also pointed out that energy consumption and availability is increasingly becoming as big as, if not a bigger concern for organizations in the Middle East than in other regions.

"The adoption of green initiatives is fast, but it is not fast enough - we believe we can speed it up. In cities like Dubai, where [power company] DEWA has already sounded the alarm over capacity, and there is still a lot of construction going on, if data centre managers and CIOs really do their share to improve energy efficiency, then they can save money and work toward sustaining growth for all," he added.

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