Major energy management company, Schneider Electric, collaborated with IT market watchers from Canalys, Forrester, and 451 Research to collect data from 3000 global participants from the colocation and cloud industry. The aim of the research was to obtain a clearer understanding of sustainability initiatives within IT and data centre industries, and evaluate the maturity and potential for the industry to achieve “net-zero” IT operations.
Their findings, released as three independent research studies, were revealed at Schneider Electric’s virtual event on June 8 2022, “The Future is Now: Preparing IT Infrastructure for Net-Zero Operations.”
Overall, the reports highlighted that across the data centre and IT industry, there is a clear discrepancy between companies’ perception of their positive sustainability efforts, and their actual implementation of full lifecycle sustainability programs across their IT infrastructure.
Struggle to Actualise Net-Zero Goal
According to the 451 Research findings from a survey of 1100 IT professionals responsible for core and distributed IT, although 26% of participants identified themselves as having a full lifecycle sustainability program, only 14% were actually taking actions to implement the programs across all infrastructure.
Furthermore, the 451 Research report also found that 22% of firms surveyed were implementing efficiency initiatives to improve specific areas of operation, presumably to reduce wastage and production costs, yet these firms were also identified as “not addressing sustainability as a major focus”.
At the broadcast, Elena Fedotova, Vice President of the Secure Power Division at Schneider Electric France, observed that across the survey participants, “the common threat you see here… is the sustainability action gap,” which she phrased “in simple words” as “the difference between what I say and what I actually do”.
For instance, she noted that among colocation providers who agreed that customers were the “number one” driving force behind their actions for sustainability, yet only 43% actually said that they had a “comprehensive sustainability programme” in place.
Despite positive developments over the past decade, such as the drop in industry average Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) scores from 1.7 to 1.2, tracking raw energy efficiency improvements is not enough. Instead, operators need to shift their focus from efficiency to sustainability, such as adopting renewable energy and measuring greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and electronic waste from operations.
Schneider Electric found that one significant reason for the “sustainability action gap” is the considerable challenge data centre operators face in managing the complexities which are inherent in attempts to track and manage energy use of IT assets within hybrid environments. Fedotova also warned that “despite the multitude of carbon pledges being signed by various players in the industry, we are still on the trajectory of 3.5 degrees Celsius of global warming,”
Executive Vice President, Secure Power Division of Schneider Electric, Pankaj Sharma, said that “the research is clear – the industry knows sustainability needs to be prioritised but challenges still exist to taking action and will take a collaborative effort to overcome.”
“The good news is the technology to take action in sustainability exists today. Now is the time to act.”
Sustainable innovations are crucial for the data centre industry to remain relevant and reliable in the future. “Outstanding Data Center Projects” is an awards category for this year’s W.Media Asia-Pacific Cloud & Datacenter Awards. Thinking of nominating or sponsoring? Visit our Awards page for more information. Nominations are open until 31st July 2022.