Second, Kennedy says that carbon regulation will reverse the trend of datacenter operators leaving California in search of lower energy costs. The reason: A datacenter operator may pay less per watt on the East Coast than in the Golden State, but utilities out there tend to generate their electricity with coal, which is far dirtier than the natural gas used by California utilities. As such, datacenter operators to the east will have to pay higher carbon-related fees -- high enough perhaps to force them closer to a source of cleaner energy. The alternative would be moving their IT operations to a country that doesn't have stringent environmental regulations.
A third and related trend: The onset of environmental regulations, coupled with the cost and complexity of building and maintaining a dynamic datacenter environment that can suit an organizations' current and future needs, will induce companies to abandon the datacenter business entirely and instead embrace the service of a hosted provider such as RagingWire or Digital Realty Trust -- as well as cloud computing services such as Amazon Web Services and Elastic Compute Cloud.
[ Learn why cloud computing is greener than hosting your own datacenter. ]
This, in turn, is going to further drive the evolution of cloud computing, Kennedy predicts. As more organizations rely on managed IT services based miles away instead of in the same building, they'll need their applications to be securely available in the cloud.
So where is this all heading? Kennedy jokingly (or perhaps half jokingly) said that he would like to have the ability to monitor the datacenter from the golf course. That scenario likely isn't too far off. Datacenter monitoring and management tools are growing increasingly sophisticated. If you have access to those tools via the cloud, you should be able to receive alerts -- be it on the golf course or in your headquarters in Portland, Ore. -- on a portable device that temperature in your Santa Fe, NM, datacenter is rising. You could then call up a real-time map of the datacenter and see that a CRAC unit is down. From there, you can notify your staff in Santa Fe of the problem and perhaps turn on a backup CRAC unit with the click of your mouse, all without leaving your office -- or your caddy.