Steve Yellen, vice president of product and market strategy at Aperture Technologies, argues that striving for a greener datacentre has become a business imperative as well as an environmental one.

The ‘Green IT’ movement, once a concept relegated to a small group of environmentally concerned tree-huggers, is attracting attention from organisations around the world.

And with soaring energy prices, shrinking floor space and the generation of ever larger masses of data, the ‘green datacentre’ is fast becoming a focal point of interest. Advances in information technology - including blade computing, virtualisation and server consolidations - have all contributed to a changing pattern in data deployments.

Recent statistics reported by the Environmental Protection Agency indicate the total power consumed by servers (including cooling and auxiliary infrastructure) represented approximately 1.2 percent of the total electricity used in the US in 2005 which is more than double the use when compared with 2000 - with IT hardware and datacentres being the leading national contributor to carbon emissions.

To further compound the issue, the costs associated with a kilowatt of electricity is rising significantly. Currently, power and cooling costs represent up to two fifths of a datacentre’s total cost of ownership. The Uptime Institute estimates the current three-year cost of powering and cooling servers is approximately one-and-a-half times the cost of purchasing server hardware. By 2012 power and cooling costs could represent 22 times the cost of hardware.

One of the major reasons corporations have not implemented a green strategy to date is confusion as to what constitutes the best approach and what measures can successfully gauge whether specific strategies and technologies actually work.

In response to the lack of standards and confusion, a new non-profit initiative, The Green Grid, has been established by a consortium of information technology companies and professionals to promote energy efficiency and lower the overall consumption of power in datacentres. The group is currently in the process of collecting real-time data from datacentres in order to provide datacentre managers with a roadmap and a baseline set of best practices.