Gartner urges action on data center emissions

Analyst firm says data centers now account for almost a quarter of all the carbon emissions caused by IT operations, and calls for greater action to save the environment.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

The intensive power requirements needed to run and cool data centers now account for almost a quarter of global CO2 emissions from information and communications technology, according to Gartner.

The main issue is not the current amount of data center emissions, but the fact that data center emissions are increasing faster than other carbon emissions, the firm said in a research advisory.

Speaking prior to Gartner's Data Center Summit this month, Rakesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner, said: "Although the figure compares favorably with the 40 percent of emissions from PCs and monitors, it is much more concentrated and rising more quickly."

Despite widespread publicity around the issue, not enough attention has been paid to reducing data-center emissions, Kumar said. "Organizations should aim to keep their data center CO2 emissions constant," he said. "This will help curb excessive data-center growth and act as a counterbalance to deploying energy-inefficient hardware."

The main reasons for the scale of current emissions are a lack of floor space, a failure to house high-density servers and increased power consumption and heat generation, according to Kumar.

The analyst also highlighted related cost concerns. "We predict energy consumption of microprocessors alone will rise for the next 10 years," he said.

In a separate research advisory published on Tuesday, Gartner said that green technology is now number one in the company's rating of industry issues. Number two on the list is unified communications, followed by business process modeling in third place.

Metadata management--the process of handling data in a way that makes issues like integrating customer and product information easier, thus helping with techniques like service-oriented architecture--was in fourth place.

The full list, plus Gartner's explanation for each issue's inclusion, is as follows:

  1. Green IT. The focus on green IT came to the forefront in 2007 will accelerate and expand in 2008.
  2. Unified communications. Twenty percent of the installed base with private branch exchanges (PBXs) has already migrated to IP telephony, and more than 80 percent are already doing trials of some form [of IP Telephony].
  3. Business process modeling. Top-level process services must be defined jointly by a set of roles, which include enterprise architects, senior developers, process architects and/or process analysts.
  4. Metadata management. Until at least 2010, organizations implementing both customer data integration and product integration and product information management will link these master data-management initiatives as part of an overall enterprise information management (EIM) strategy.
  5. Virtualization 2.0. Virtualization technologies can improve IT resource utilization and increase the flexibility needed to adapt to changing requirements and workloads.
  6. Mashup and composite applications. By 2010, Web mashups will be the dominant model for the creation of composite enterprise applications.
  7. Web platform and Web-oriented architecture (WOA). Software as a service (SaaS) is becoming a viable option in more markets and companies must evaluate where service-based delivery may provide value in the period 2008-10.
  8. Computing fabric. A computing fabric is the evolution of server design beyond the interim stage--blade servers--that exists today.
  9. Real world Web. The term "real world Web" refers to places where information from the Web is applied to a particular location, activity or context in the real world. It is intended to augment the reality that a user faces, not to replace it, as in virtual worlds.
  10. Social software. Until at least 2010, the enterprise Web 2.0 product environment will experience considerable flux, with continued product innovation and new entrants, including start-ups, large vendors and traditional collaboration vendors.

Editorial standards