Studies have shown that large-scale data centers use energy more efficiently than smaller local data centers or server rooms. Nonetheless, they too must prove that they are sustainable: for this, we need guidelines that define what is meant by sustainable data centers, platforms, and operating models. There is a lot going on at the moment. The European Union's Green Deal aims for climate neutrality by 2050. CO2 pricing is constantly on the rise. The EU is promoting climate-friendly investments with the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive as well as the Taxonomy Regulation. Data centers are not immune to this: Numerous initiatives have been launched to date - from the "EU Code of Conduct for Energy Efficiency in Data Centres" to the "Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact". The EU climate plan "Fit for 55" aims to reduce CO2 emissions on the continent by at least 55 percent by 2030 and develop a sustainability index for data centers.
Certificates are just the beginning
Cloud providers are therefore under pressure to act. I see that as a good thing, as it will separate the wheat from the chaff. Those who are attempting to save themselves for the future by buying certificates have already lost. "Fit for 55" already poses the prospect of new KPIs, for example, for energy/resource consumption required for computing power. Analysts at Gartner estimate that the carbon footprint will be one of the most important criteria for the selection of cloud services by 2025 at the latest. Customers should therefore already be investing in solutions that promise sovereignty and sustainability in equal measure. This will help them avoid the risk of having to undertake another expensive and time-consuming cloud transformation in a few years' time and will improve the company's environmental footprint with the help of their IT.
On the way to net zero
Sovereignty alone is no longer enough. This is why providers have long been streamlining their data centers to be more sustainable: Google wants to meet all its energy needs in a CO2-neutral way by 2030, for example by using wind energy and geothermal energy. T-Systems has also set itself an ambitious goal of achieving a "Net-zero-energy data center": That is to say, a data center that, under optimal conditions, would no longer draw any energy from the public power grid and would be powered solely by carbon-neutral energy. In order to achieve this, we are collaborating with the Fraunhofer IFF in a research project at our data center in Biere in Saxony-Anhalt. We are analyzing and testing the use of photovoltaics, better cooling technology, heat recovery systems, and more efficient computers, as well as cooperating with wind power producers. We also signed up to the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact in 2021, which unites data center operators and trade associations committed to the European Green Deal.
Everything in green
Will the sovereign cloud become the dominant cloud landscape in the future? No, but it will enrich our multi-cloud landscapes. Companies will use them in cases where their data requires a particularly high level of security. Sustainable cloud services, however, are a completely different story. There is no way around them. They are becoming an indispensable prerequisite for future success. Not only will they rule the market, but they will not leave any more room for offers that are less careful with their resources. IT infrastructure be operated in a way that is both forward-thinking and environmentally friendly. Only then can it be competitive in the long run. If you are interested in Green IT and would like to know more about how companies can measure and reduce the carbon footprint of their cloud infrastructure, then take a look at my article on "Are digitalization and sustainability compatible?"
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