A new report out of Pike Research predicts “green” data centers will continue to thrive, with the worldwide market for green data centers growing from $17.1 billion in 2012 to $45.4 billion by 2016—a compound annual growth rate of nearly 28 percent.
What's fueling the growth? The Pike report attributes it to the combination of rising energy costs, increasing demand for computing power, environmental concerns and economic pressure.
I've spoken with insurance industry CIOs who are the forefront of green data center design, and ultimately, most of the green we'll be seeing won't necessarily be the result of wanting to be environmentally friendly—though it is a great cause. Instead, the “greening” will occur as a result of movements to consolidation, virtualization and cloud computing. It will simply require a lot less in the way of systems and equipment to deliver a lot more computing horsepower.
Eric Woods, research director for Pike, says that the forces of virtualization and cloud computing are transforming data centers. “The green data center is connected to the broader transformation that data centers are undergoing,” said Woods. “A transformation that encompasses technical innovation, operational improvements, new design principles, changes to the relationship between IT and business, and changes in the data center supply chain.”
Virtualization, the innovation with the greatest impact on the shape of the modern data center, is also recognized as one of the most effective steps toward improving power efficiency in the data center.
However, the report cautioned, in itself, virtualization may not lead to reduced energy costs. To gain the maximum benefits from virtualization, other components of the data center infrastructure will need to be optimized to support more dynamic and higher-density computing environments.
Cloud computing, meanwhile, has many advantages in efficiency, but new metrics and new levels of transparency are required if its impact on the environment is to be adequately assessed, the report found.
Still, as insurers continue efforts to improve data center efficiency and do a lot more with a lot less, there will be a nice green dividend as well.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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