Power and energy savings and green IT in its own right are all by products of saving money, according to those running the biggest energy users in IT, data centre managers.
At least that was a key message to take away from the Data Centre World conference held in London on Monday and Tuesday.
In a survey, conducted before the event, only 12 percent of data centre managers cited the green issue as a driver for change. When the survey was conducted last year, a third cited the green issue. Being green is not the issue, but efficiency and especially cost efficiency are. According to the survey, saving money is still the number one reason for lowering power consumption.
Whether the drive is being green or lowering power consumption, according to the survey more than two thirds of IT departments are pro-actively implementing policies that are intended to reduce power consumption.
Whatever the driver, if cutting the power bills means cutting power consumption means using less power, then the one leads to the other and so on.
The issue was underlined by the exhibition itself. In the garish signs that always accompany these events there was very little prominence given to the green issue. Come to that, there was very little sign of cost reduction, but perhaps it is not seemly to have these event decked out to look like your local supermarket with 50 percent off reductions.
But talking to organisers and attendees it was not difficult to get the sense that “efficiency” was the keyword, and energy efficiency was the driver as long as it meant saving money.
Other drivers which were once thought of as important points of difference are now seen as “givens”. The IT infrastructure suppliers and especially the hosting and managed service suppliers were all saying that one of the most important issues they are up against is a shortage of data centre space. Pressure on property is still increasing and especially on suitable property. Data centres from green fields are efficient and data centres from the empty office blocks are expensive, according to attendees I spoke to at the event. 33 percent of people in a Gartner survey (which was cited quite a lot at the show) said they would run out of data centre space in three years and 24 percent said they were running out now.
The problem is that there is not enough empty space in this country that people will let you build on, at least not in the south of England. So why not build the data centre in, say, the Highlands of Scotland?
Then you get a strange effect as the companies attending the event who offered such suitable services, pointed out that who that they could not offer services that placed the data centre physically too far away from home.
“Is it the case that IT managers still want to be able to drive down to their IT centre and touch the hardware? Yes, it is,” was the verdict of one services company. “I have no idea if that is a minority view, I just know that there are still market advantages of offering data centre space that is close at hand,” he said.
“Is that still going to be the case in a year or two? I don’t know but hopefully it won’t.”
One area where IT managers are showing keenness to adopt new ideas is in managed services for areas like email. “Email is very popular and getting more popular,” said one managed service supplier. “IT managers are fed up with having to manage email, Exchange and so on. It is just a cost and a drain and they don’t want to have to do it so if they can offload that as a managed service they want to do it. Not everybody is happy to do that of course, but a growing number are.”
The conference continues tomorrow at the Barbican in London.