Asian Tigers still have something to learn about Green IT

Asian TigersIn Asia, the larger data centres tend to be based in the most expensive cities such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore or Shanghai. For almost ten years there is an impressive and continuous growth in data centers in the Asia-Pacific market. According to Chengyu Wu from Frost & Sullivan this growth in Asia-Pac will continue at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 14.6 percent (2009-2011). Demand for data centre hosting, Wu adds, currently exceeds supply. “In fact, over 80 percent of the major data centres in Asia-Pacific are running at close to 90 percent capacity and space is at a premium.”

While the outlook appears highly promising, data centre operators struggle with the high cost of operations which have increased exponentially in recent times. According to Frost & Sullivan director Jayesh Easwaramony, “Power costs can often account for more than 50 percent of the overall operational expenditure (OPEX) of a data centre, while real estate pricing could also seriously inflate costs.

Begin this year the ZDNet Asia IT Priorities 2010 survey showed that, the green initiatives scored the lowest as an IT priority among Asian businesses. In a recent interview of ZDNet Asia, Chris McPherson of Raritan stated that Asian companies are not yet seeing the full importance of implementing green technologies.

This is a strange thing given the incentives of expensive data center locations, the enormous power costs, and not to forget that power and cooling and floor space form together a certain data center threshold and therefore can prohibit growth. The demand for IT capacity can’t go beyond this threshold because of power shortage or overheating and/or lack of floor space. This create the risk that suddenly demand for IT capacity can’t be fulfilled and it will come to a grinding halt.

One way to “push” for green uptake, McPherson said, is to have governments either reduce subsidized power bills or increase subsidies for green energy. However, these incentives are currently slow and minimal. Analyst Chengyu Wu pointed out that discussions have centered mainly around concepts such as virtualization and utility computing emerging in the data center segment. McPherson agreed that virtualization is one way to help companies manage green costs since not as many servers need to be deployed, which consequently brings about savings in real estate expenditure. McPherson emphasized that employing information and management tools that helps companies to find out what is really happening at their device level and measure the individual energy consumption in order to make better decisions on reducing spending and maximizing savings. “The electricity bill is for the total cost of the data center, but to break that down as to what each component is costing you, it is only recently that tools are available to do so,” he said.

To use these tools, first a paradox must be solved. Because if you don’t see the issue why spending money on tools? So who starts using them? Who is aware about the issue, who is responsible, who feels the pain and take action? We need publications of real cases in reducing energy consumption and reducing energy costs in the data center environment to get things started.

P.S. Are the Asian Tigers the only one that still have something to learn about Green IT? I don’t think so …

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