Cloud and colocation providers have an important role to play in the global efforts toward sustainability. As critical leaders in the data center industry, they can influence others by shifting infrastructure towards more energy efficient and renewable energy sources. Yet, there are pressures to achieving these sustainability goals.
On the one hand, there is tremendous pressure coming from regulatory bodies, from new standards, and from shareholders to swap out their current infrastructure for more efficient solutions and more environmentally friendly business models.
At the same time, customers don’t typically put sustainability high on their priority list when they are shopping for a colocation provider – it’s more about SLAs, reliability, and uptime. But there are ways that colocation providers can do both – build reliable and cost-efficient data centers while also making them sustainable.
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Sustainability roadmap for colocation providers
A 451 Research survey that polled 800+ data center professionals said sustainability is a competitive differentiator, but only 43% have developed sustainability initiative improvement plans for their infrastructure. Many questions still exist on how to balance meeting the day-to-day demands of running a colocation facility along with ramping up sustainability efforts.
So, in a recent Innovation Talk Webinar, I spoke with colleagues from Schneider’s Energy Sustainability Services organization about how to tackle environmental impacts and meet energy targets. Here are some key takeaways from our discussion:
- Three megatrends directing the new energy landscape: digitization, decarbonization, and decentralization are reshaping market and energy demands.
- Energy transition challenges require new ways of thinking: evolving technology and climate change is shifting the C-suite perspective and driving new investment strategies around sustainability.
- Importance of sustainability: it’s not just a feel-good concept; why sustainability is a competitive differentiator driven by shareholder and evolving consumer demands.
- Momentum and urgency throughout the data center industry is building: there’s a mass movement among corporations toward climate action. Meanwhile, 74% of colocation providers say their customers expect contractually binding efficiency and sustainability commitment, but only 43% of colocation providers have a comprehensive sustainability program. So, there’s work to be done.
- Setting sustainability targets: a greater focus needs to be placed on setting climate goals and energy targets. You can start that journey by setting science-based targets around carbon neutrality, net-zero emissions, and climate neutrality.
This concept of ‘green’ colocation or data center facilities is widely popular. I also spoke with Datacenter Dynamics CEO George Rocket in a recent podcast. In our chat, we recognize the global impact and variance in maturity models across colocation companies and their sustainable practices. Hint: Some colocation providers are further along than others. One key takeaway is that most colocation providers want to move forward but need to develop actionable sustainability strategies. There are ways colocation data centers can get started by setting specific goals, developing metrics, and putting procedures in place to measure and monitor progress.
Getting started: A framework for achieving sustainability
The climate and business case are clear ― colocation providers are challenged to ramp up sustainability efforts. A critical first step is to figure out how to develop or define their organization’s sustainability strategy. Wherever you are on your journey towards carbon neutrality, net zero, or sustainable and energy efficient design, I encourage you to check out these two sessions to ascertain additional actionable insights: Innovation Talk: How Colocation Facilities Can Tackle Environmental Impacts with Energy Targets, and DCD>Podcast: Green Colocation with Greg Jones.
If you have additional input or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Let’s keep the discussion going.
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