Will Outsourcing Help Companies Go Green?

Ann All

In a post-"Inconvenient Truth" world, companies appear to be putting more thought into conserving energy in their data centers, as this Analyst Perspectives report makes clear. The report cites a recent Sun Microsystems survey in which 75 percent of executives tasked with purchasing data center gear say energy efficiency is a top priority and research from the Digital Reality Trust that 60 percent of companies expect green data center strategies to be part of future capital spending.


Yet despite this interest, confusion over what constitutes "green" is complicating conservation efforts. Seventy-three percent of the Digital Reality Trust respondents are creating their own standards, due to the lack of a clear industry standard for "green" data centers.


This kind of confusion is one reason why companies should consider outsourcing data center infrastructure, according to an IDG white paper. Other reasons include cost savings and reduced exposure to compliance risks -- though such risks are a future threat rather than a current reality.


Because third-party infrastructure providers can leverage economies of scale across large numbers of clients, says IDG, they can deliver data center energy savings of up to 40 percent. And while there are currently no environmental requirements for data centers, an IDC research director hints strongly that this will change.

Today, legislation is concentrated on areas such as materials and recycling, but discussions are going on within the EU (European Union) and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) to extend environmental regulation to IT and communications, and companies must consider the future implications of this for their business.

OK, fair enough, but skeptics among us will note that the IDG report was commissioned by one such provider, Rackspace.


Skepticism apparently was running quite high at this week's Gartner Symposium and ITxpo in Florida. ZDNet blogger Larry Dignan says that at least some attendees are bothered by the not-so-altruistic motives of vendors and consultants, who are pushing "green" agendas to pad their own pockets.


Dignan also doesn't understand why there isn't more focus on virtualization and automated servers than on hardware-driven approaches to reduce cooling costs.

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Oct 15, 2007 3:24 AM Tarry Singh Tarry Singh  says:
Sure, go ahead and outsource it to India and China. you know how CO2 friendly those countries are. Will a company reduce its CO2 footprint when it hands it into someone else's hand? Answer is NO. Going green is a responsibility that we all ought to share! Reply
Oct 15, 2007 7:08 AM Simon Griffiths Simon Griffiths  says:
Wow, you guys are harsh!!In actual fact there is reasonable evidence that larger data centers are more efficient. If you read the EPA report (109-431) on Server and Data Centre Efficiency, there is plenty of info in there. In 2007 they estimate a PUE (Power Usage Efficiency) of 1.94 in a server room to 1.89 in an enterprise class datacentre. This will shift to 1.7 and 1.45 respectively, and many enterprise class centres are even working towards 1.2. The other thing this report looks at is government and electrical supply incentives for reducing energy consumption. These can be substantial. If you look at Sun Microsystems new centre for example you will see that they put in very flexible, efficient and upgradable systems, and with rebates etc it made good business sense.I don't think anyone is saying move them to China or India, in fact I heard that Greenland is a good location as it is nice and cool!Of coarse you have to look at economies for you, but there are other things to factor in. Do you want to be seen as a green company? Will this benefit your company by increasing revenue? If so you need to count the cost of electricity as being that generated from alternative sources. Look at your whole business and its focus, not just the datacentre. Reply
Oct 15, 2007 12:43 PM Chris Ree Chris Ree  says:
Analyst's Perspective report? I'd rather ask the CIO's themselves, than listen to Analyst's Perspective report. Truth be told, majority of CIO's who care about their job and the company, are not looking to invest into dumping the company's revenue into this green data center theory.Will outsourcing help us go green? Wow, where do I start on the logic with this one. This "green" data center sounds more like an agenda versus a smart business move. Since when is it a smart business move to invest capital into a green data center (or a vendor)? You want to spend millions of dollars replacing data center hardware to bring down your electricity costs from $300,000 to $200,000 in kilowatt hours? That doesn't sound like an investment. That sounds to me more like reckless spending of the company's money. I certainly wouldn't spend hard earned capital into something that isn't good business sense. Hardware vendors all along the years have been improving their products to use less kilowatt hours. This is what a "green" data center means, to those trying to figure it out. Use less kilowatt hours. This quote from the blog sums this situation up:"ZDNet blogger Larry Dignan says that at least some attendees are bothered by the not-so-altruistic motives of vendors and consultants, who are pushing green agendas to pad their own pockets."Most rightly so. These attendees are smart to be concerned. This makes the most sense behind the motive for "green" data centers. I think Dignan is right on the money. Smart C-level execs with true business sense will not buy into this alarmist agenda. They will not be sold down the river by a company pushing "green" on them. Of course, if the CIO has no loyalty (to his employer), and gets a "kickback" by awarding this type of contract to the company, then this may happen (which is not uncommon).Every time I see these "green" data center articles, I cannot help but imagine how clouded people's judgement are on this. News flash: "green" data centers will not help our environment. There is no factual data on how your data center directly impacts the environment. If there is show me. If your data center is using $100,000 less per year on kilowatt hours than last year, nobody will care. In fact, you may just lose your job after the company found out you spent $14 million on datacenter hardware to "save" $100,000 - $150,000 a year on electricity. Reply
Jun 10, 2009 8:34 AM Christoph Christoph  says:

I agree with the Simon especially in the sense of the data evidence. Economies of Scale are in many businesses a major driver for cost reduction or even just to reach break-even points in several businesses. So concentrating the IT investments in bigger centers makes sense out of many perspectives - I don't think that we are talking about CO2 in India or China here.

Still, I believe the topic goes much further than this and certainly again are we following some agendas - but who cares. If the investments are done right, then green outsourcing means basically reducing KwH - like said before - and reducing KwH saves money. Still, it would be stupid to put solar panels on the roof of a data center - but why don't have a hydropower plant in Switzerland or Norway, with the world cheapest / unsubsidiest power support a datacenter??? Location is not a limiter anymore, but an opportunity - for all IT.

Let me make a complete different point: Wouldn't it be greener to work with companies whose employees don't need to switch on the AC or the Heating because they are living in a stable climate: Check Officient in Guatemala www.officient.biz  (Not for data centers! - But just as an idea!)


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