Senior datacentre professionals in Europe are increasingly concerned about the potential impact of green regulations on corporate datacenters, according to a survey.

A similar study carried out in the US found that significant shifts have occurred over the past 12 months in datacenter strategies – but concern for regulation is a major driver in 2009.

The findings in Europe and the US came from two studies carried out on behalf of datacentre provider Digital Realty Trust.

In Europe, the independent survey of senior datacentre professionals revealed heightened concerns about government regulation in the datacentre industry.

Nearly 70 per cent of companies surveyed reported that they are extremely concerned or very concerned with the potential impact of Green regulations on data centres.

Jim Smith, CTO of Digital Realty Trust, said the survey clearly showed a high level of concern about the impact of Green regulations on datacentre facilities.

"While the new Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) regulations in the EU address a number of questions about the new rules, new concerns about how companies will achieve compliance have arisen," he said.

"That uncertainty is reflected in these results in terms of how the new rules will impact operations, finance and customer relations."

Those taking part in the survey were restricted to a minimum of director level in IT, MIS, IS or finance and they needed to represent companies with either EURO 500M or GBP 500M annual revenues or 2,500 plus employees.

They also had to be responsible for managing a datacentre, implementing a new datacentre, executing contracts for a new datacentre or expanding existing datacentres. The survey was concluded at the end of March by Campos Research.

Other findings from the European study include:

  • 60 per cent of surveyed companies now have Green datacentre strategies in place
  • Over half (57 per cent) felt there was now a clear definition of what constitutes a Green datacentre
  • Energy efficiency is viewed as the key criteria for a Green datacentre
  • While many mention a Green strategy as a factor in choosing a datacentre provider, no company emerges as a Green leader in the survey
  • Among companies that have a Green datacentre strategy, the qualities they are looking for in datacentre providers include:                           –

                           – Knowledge of current regulations and emerging Green standards

                           – Experience building facilities with LEED or BREEAM certification
                           – The ability to meet ISO 14001 and Green Grid standards
  • More than half (55%) would reject a provider with no Green strategy

While energy efficiency was seen as the dominant characteristic of a Green datacentre, recycled materials, carbon issues and transportation were nearly equally important to those surveyed, who also included targeted cooling, efficient UPS and metering equipment among their "wish list".

ISO 14001 and Green Grid were thought to be the leading standards for certifying a Green datacentre.

Companies who have already adopted a Green strategy said that the most important goal of their strategy was in reducing energy costs, but other benefits including climate change, customer image, cost of compliance and updating datacentres were also important.

Despite the challenges facing the global economy, 58 per cent of respondents had increased their focus on Green initiatives and 69 percent revealed that carbon credits were part of their strategy.

The US study showed that concern for regulation is a major driver for green datacenter efforts in 2009.

The survey indicates that significant shifts have occurred over the past 12 months in corporate green datacenter strategies.

It, too, was based on a detailed survey of senior decision makers at large US corporations who are responsible for their companies’ datacenter and green IT strategies.

Smith said that what dominated last year’s study was the need for clearer standards and best practices for green datacenters.

"There has been significant progress in that area over the past year, including the publication of green datacenter case studies by industry leaders, the development of green building standards specifically for datacenters, and widespread efforts to educate datacenter professionals on the practical application of that information," he said.

"We’re not there yet, but progress has been made, which is reflected in this survey.

"By contrast, what dominates this year’s study is companies’ concerns about potential government regulation and how that would impact datacenter operations."

Key findings of the US study include:

  • 69 per cent of survey participants said they were extremely or very concerned about government regulation.
  • 81 per cent of survey participants said that carbon credits are now part of their green IT strategy – compared to only 18 per cent in 2008.
  • 53 per cent said that the industry now has a clear definition of what makes a datacenter green, compared to 82 percent in the 2008 survey who said that there was no clear definition.
  • 73 per cent of survey participants identified "energy efficiency" as the key aspect of a green datacenter.

Smith said that concerns about potential regulations are driving companies to look closely at their datacenters and accelerate the process of implementing green initiatives to increase energy efficiency.

"We applaud these green datacenter initiatives because they result in lower power usage and lower costs, even when companies take very basic steps toward designing and operating their datacenters in a greener fashion," he said.

"However, it is important to note that some of the concerns about government regulation may not be warranted, given the good faith efforts that government agencies such as the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency are making to work with the industry and advocacy groups like The Green Grid to spur self-management of this issue.

"We believe that collaboration between the government and datacenter professionals is the most effective approach to addressing datacenter energy efficiency."

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