September 28, 2012 – While not a single technology or cohesive strategy, spending on efficient or “green” data center measures is expected to nearly triple from current levels to $45 billion worldwide by 2016, according to a new market analysis.

Pike Research’s review assesses investment IT equipment, power and cooling infrastructure, and monitoring and management tools, all of which includes data center dedications on modular storage units and cloud computing deployments. In the new assessment, Pike actually cut back its spending forecast by approximately $5 billion from a previous report, which notched green data center spending at $41.4 billion by 2015. Pike attributes that dollar reduction to macroeconomic conditions and uncertainty with electricity prices.

Broken into geographic regions, Pike anticipates green spending to grow by 27 percent CAGR in Europe and North America, the largest market, and by 30 percent CAGR in Asia and the Pacific. And the global spending for 2012 is expected to total approximately $17 billion.

Cutting costs associated with energy use and infrastructure demands are a large part of the drive for greener data centers. But Pike notes that a few other trends are pushing spending up and, at the same time, challenging reduction efforts.

For one, data center management tools are “gradually closing the gap” between IT systems and power use, as well as opening the performance monitoring and maintenance of data systems. The huge rush to public, private and hybrid cloud deployments carries opportunities for fewer servers on, but not in use, as well as other in-house uptime expenditures and dedications. In recent estimates from a separate report, Pike stated the cloud could cut back on data center energy consumption by one-third by the end of the decade. Along those same lines, the cloud also demands new metrics and variability in workloads at data centers, which opens the debate for the levels of real efficiency found in data deployments.

“We are, however, only at the beginning of the long investigation and debate as to the most energy-efficient and environmentally sensitive ways to provide those services and use them effectively,” the Pike report states.

Implementation of basic operational improvements, modern cooling and power infrastructure, and the current level of server and storage virtualization show that green initiatives have “yet to be adopted as a mainstream technology,” Pike’s researchers wrote. The virtualization aspect of that is a huge unknown, as computing power and data volumes reach atmospheric levels of growth over the next few years and beyond. Going forward, Pike also expects that weak regulatory environments on data center consumption in Asia and the U.S. will face governmental and industry agreements on energy, greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption.

Although green and efficient methodologies have been a big part of data management discussions in recent years, the energy consumption of data centers have come into wider attention of late, in part from a New York Times series that has found no shortage of industry criticism. Industries reliant on huge data volumes like the banking sector have bought in to efficiency technologies, and vendors like HP have trotted out data center architecture that promise low energy waste.

Taking precedence over the public perception of data center consumption is the view of the customer, according to Pike.

“As the data center’s true costs becomes more visible, a new transparency is being brought to discussions about energy consumption and required infrastructure investments. This, in turn, is contributing to a broader transformation in the relationship between the data center and the businesses it serves,” according to Pike Research Director Eric Woods.

To access the Pike Research report, click here.

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