UK lags behind rest of Europe on data centre sustainability

A lack of integrated visibility of the server environment could be partly to blame

The UK lags behind the rest of Europe in terms of data centre sustainability, a new survey has found.

This is contrary to the green IT hype over the past few years, and further supports research published last November by data centre infrastructure management solutions provider nlyte Software, which revealed that half of businesses in the UK did not know the environmental impact of their data centres.

According to the Oracle Next Generation Data Centre Index, which is based on a Quocirca survey of 919 managers in large organisations around the world, the UK scored below average for sustainability, despite coming fifth overall in the index.

For example, 60 per cent of UK respondents considered energy monitoring to be 'someone else's' or 'no-one else's' responsibility. Another below-average indicator was that more than 30 per cent did not know their server utilisation levels.

"A lot of people are talking about it [sustainability] but very few people are doing it," said Mike Schroeder, system marketing for Oracle EMEA , who attributed the lack of green IT investment partly to the economic recession.

"We have to take into account the global meltdown. That stopped a lot of projects. We will have to see whether these will pick up again."

Despite the fact that a more efficient data centre could help an organisation to cut costs, such as energy costs, Schroeder said that firms were too under pressure to adopt long-term strategies in the data centre.

"People said, 'we have to cut the costs right now. Right now, we can't afford to invest money in changing or re-architecturing the data centre'."

This also seems to be backed by today's research from KPMG, which found that UK companies believe that 95 per cent of the cost-cutting initiatives adopted during the recession are unsustainable.

But Schroeder added that regulation, such as the UK's mandatory Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme, may help to encourage data centre managers to adopt more sustainable measures. The scheme aims to reduce the amount of electricity used by businesses, and requires participant organisations to buy allowances to offset their electricity usage - most of which is expended in the data centre.

While the UK lags on sustainability, one area in which it outperformed other countries in Europe was flexibility, where it ranked fourth.

38 per cent of UK respondents said they are able to allocate resources dynamically to workload with no outage, while nearly half (48 per cent) said that more than 50 per cent of their data centre was virtualised.

"The UK is the first in Europe on being able to respond to business needs quickly and flexibly," said Schroeder.

"The UK seems to be a little further ahead than the Benelux countries, for example, in having done more data centre consolidation and virtualisation."

Respondents in the UK also led in terms of having a single, integrated systems management system, with 40 per cent saying they predominantly or completely had a single vendor approach.

However, this leaves 60 per cent who do not have an integrated view of their systems, and Schroeder said that overall, a lot of companies around the world have piecemeal management systems in place.

"That's a driver for the lack of flexibility and sustainability. That's the one thing that companies could look to get in the short-term, harmonising systems management to have a total view of the server environment," he said.

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