Sustainability helps protect datacenters from abrupt change

Sheila Zabeu -

May 12, 2023

Cost optimization and stakeholder pressures are driving the growth of infrastructure sustainability programs among datacenters. By 2027, 75% of organizations will have implemented such a program, up from 5% in 2022, according to Gartner.

“Responsibilities for sustainability are increasingly being shifted from CIOs to Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) leaders to improve IT’s environmental outcomes, particularly around datacenters. This has led many down the path of increased spending and investment in environmental solutions, but impacts on the environment should not be the only focus. Sustainability can also generate significant positive impacts on non-environmental factors such as brand value, innovation, resilience and talent attraction,” said Autumn Stanish, principal senior analyst at Gartner.

According to a Gartner survey of 221 respondents from North America, Europe and the APAC region conducted in the second half of 2022, the environmental outcomes of IT infrastructure are only one facet of a solid sustainability strategy for I&O. Most sustainability benefits are indirect.

According to Gartner, the top three indirect benefits are:

1. Reduced costs: The most effective action for the environment and budget for I&O leaders is to defer new equipment purchases and better manage, optimize or redeploy what they already have. According to Gartner, organizations can achieve up to 60% cost savings simply by extending the lifespan from three to five years. In addition, optimizing the use of servers and storage capacity is another way to reduce waste and save money.

2. Innovation: Organizations are using sustainable strategies to drive innovation and growth through new products and business models. Hardware vendors are launching products and services based on Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytical insights and circular business models that can be exploited to generate innovation. For example, open telemetry platforms can help track and improve energy efficiency, and provide insights to better understand usage patterns.

However, according to Gartner, less than half of I&O leaders surveyed are taking advantage of business benefits beyond reducing energy costs.

3. Better risk management and mitigation: In a market affected by price fluctuations and supply constraints, organizations can gain more resilience and improve risk management and mitigation by adopting sustainable recycling and resource use practices. This includes consuming renewable energy, having their power supply and reusing equipment to the maximum extent possible.

According to Gartner, more than 85% of business leaders agree that sustainability is an investment that protects organizations against abrupt landscape changes.

On the occasion of Earth Day, the DCK website has highlighted recent articles of sustainable datacenters that can serve as an example (or not!) and present some tools. Below are some of them:

1. Is raising datacenter temperatures good for hardware? Equinix has done so and hopes to reduce power consumption, cut carbon emissions and help meet sustainability goals. However, experts are divided on issues of security and hardware longevity.

2. Is migrating to the cloud worth it to go green? Migrating to the cloud often – but not always! – leads to energy savings and reduced carbon emissions. Before you start migrating, you need to make sure.

3. Compliance and calculation tools – Schneider Electric has launched several tools to help datacenter operators comply with proposed SEC rules and share evidence of compliance with the new emissions standards. Schneider Electric e a The Green Grid (TGG) also offer tools to help calculate sustainability factors.

4. Tougher reporting ahead – This year should see more regulations for datacenters. Upcoming regulatory initiatives should focus on operational, energy and environmental performance reporting.

5. How does datacenter location affect ESG goals? A guide details what to look for when selecting a location to deploy a datacenter that aims to be sustainable.

7. How to gain efficiency with DEEP certification? See the example of the University of Chicago which found creative and effective solutions to reduce costs, carbon emissions and operational downtime.

8. Details involved in datacenter sustainability – Dynamic factors such as time of day and time of year can significantly affect the carbon emissions of datacenters.

9. Technical debts – These are inefficient processes and resources that datacenters could improve but choose not to, and which can often undermine sustainability efforts.

10. Would it be possible to power datacenters with only renewable sources? Physical and financial limitations and challenges that may hinder the use of 100% renewable energy.