Datacenter space is in high demand these days, and like energy prices, that demand appears to be headed nowhere but up. In fact, Digital Realty Trust, a San Francisco-based REIT, estimates that demand for datacenter space will continue to rise by as much as 15% annually over the next five years.
While that's bad news for companies struggling to maintain sufficient infrastructure to keep up with seemingly insatiable demands for computing power and storage, it's been quite a boon for companies that offer datacenter hosting services. According to Tier1 Research, that industry enjoyed 35% growth last year, raking in $15 billion in annual revenue.
Indeed, more companies -- including larger, publicly traded corporations -- are turning to third-parties for collocation and hosting services, and the appeal is evident: Beyond the recognized traditional benefits of outsourcing, it gives companies a means of keeping up with growth, without having to invest time and money in new or upgraded facilities. But having had an interesting conversation with Bob Stephens, senior director of data center operations at NaviSite -- which manages 125,000 square feet of hosted data center space across 14 facilities worldwide -- I believe that outsourced model can provide companies with a potentially greener way to do business, in part thanks to the magic of economies of scale.
"I can deliver these services more efficiently than you can do them in-house," Stephens says. "We're adding value for our customers, both in terms of being environmentally friendly as well as from a business standpoint," he said.
As datacenters have grown hotter thanks to technology such as high-density blades, air-conditioning costs have gone up. And many a datacenter lack efficient cooling, because when they were designed, architects weren't thinking about racks running at 30kw.
It might be difficult for the average datacenter manager to justify the ROI on building a state-of-the-art, highly efficient HVAC system. However, a company like NaviSite is able to cut waste, and save money, through its advanced cooling system, according to Stephens. "We're talking about picking up 15 and 20% efficiency in the amount of power it takes to cool the data center," he said.
One of NaviSite's tricks is a proprietary monitoring system that, according to Stephens, works on a very granular level. Temperature probes monitor and manage the air that goes into and flows of out of server. Through sophisticated algorithms, the system adjusts the varying speed of the fans to optimal levels.