The Greening of the Data Center

The Obama administration’s economic recovery package includes commitments to work towards a sustainable, energy efficient future. With the world’s servers currently consuming some 408 MWh of electricity, the effort is certainly needed. In fact, it has been under way for some time in some of the United States’ large data centers.

“Cisco, HP, and Dell have all taken significant steps to reduce power consumption in the data centers they operate,” says ABI Research Vice President and Practice Director Stan Schatt. “Cisco has emphasized virtualization; HP is utilizing some unique server technologies in order to reduce power requirements; and Dell has set benchmarks for restricted energy use in its own operations, setting itself up as a role model in this field.”

Photo: IBMWhether any recovery plan funding will target data centers is unknown, but, notes Schatt, “There is likely to be greater emphasis on ‘greening’ the data centers used by government.”

Another likely area for improvement is the health care industry. Part of the funding in the stimulus package is targeted to medical records computerization. That will involve data centers—not just software, but modifications to the equipment itself—providing an opportunity for these vendors to help move the health care industry towards a greener future.

“The problem right now is liquidity,” Schatt cautions. “With credit so tight, how will companies finance the replacement of equipment?” Cisco has one answer: finance provided through its Cisco Capital subsidiary. “Cisco Capital provides Cisco Systems with a strategic opportunity in the data center market, making money available to companies that want to reduce their energy consumption immediately.”

ABI Research’s recent study, “Green Wi-Fi, Data Centers, and Network Switches” provides a comprehensive evaluation of the efforts of vendors to offer “green” Wi-Fi equipment, data center equipment, and network switches. It rates vendors’ products and initiatives, and assesses equipment environmental performance. The report forms part of the firm’s Wi-Fi Research Service.


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