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Data Centers: What’s Behind Their Growth and Challenges They Face?

Data Centers: What’s behind their growth, and challenges they face?

Companies face ever-changing demands for data. Now we often hear things like “Big Data” or “The Cloud” as a solution to manage it more easily.  Well what does this all really mean?

The sheer volume of data being stored today is exploding. Social media is a part of everyday life. We hear comments like “It’s stored in the cloud,” which makes it sound like a magic kingdom in the sky where all complex computing and storage takes place. Of course, that is not real.

SUS blog pic.pngData center storage capacity is expected to double by the end of 2017.   Companies are shifting their focus from stand-alone personal computers to high-powered computing in the “cloud.” According to Cisco Systems, the cloud-generated proportion of data center traffic in 2012 was 1.2 zettabytes of data and comprised 46 percent of all traffic. By 2017 Cisco estimates that the cloud will be generating 5.3 zettabytes[1] and make up 69 percent of all data traffic.

The drivers that are sending more and more companies to the cloud are the increased storage capacity, added functionality, and capabilities on-the-fly. The foundation for the modern cloud movement can be attributed to virtualization technology and its ability to better handle the dynamic deployment of services. This has helped address issues like increasing computing density, rapid technology deployment, and solving some power and cooling challenges.

To keep pace with the growth trends, data center managers need to focus on two key factors: business challenges, and technology challenges. Business challenges focus on reducing operating expense, increased security and compliance, and maintaining a strong 24/7 business model. Additionally their technology challenges include the necessity to manage capacity, insure reliability, and stay dynamic in an ever-changing market place.

Data center managers will find the greatest opportunity for electricity cost management by optimizing their operation, and implementing industry best practices.  Some of the most commonly cited strategies require new investments.  For example, purchasing new hardware, replacing or upgrading existing solutions, and implementing storage management tools. For data centers to maintain their competitive edge in today’s marketplace they will need to be constantly evolving by increasing speed, capacity, and uptime reliability. Some of the biggest issues facing IT organizations today are the IT Equipment Power, cooling loads, and the non-IT load that is used to support the data center. There are many ways to improve energy efficiency in data centers, by focusing on airflow management strategies, HVAC adjustments and IT opportunities. Depending on the specific types of retrofit measures implemented data centers can often capture savings in the range of 25% to 50%, however this all depends the current data center configuration and age. And the Data center manager’s willingness to implement the changes.

With more efficient data centers, IT organizations can better manage increased computing, network and storage demands, lower energy costs, and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO).  Data center managers will find the greatest opportunity for electricity cost management by optimizing their operation, and implementing industry best practices. By implementing Data center best practices the facility can see a significant reduction energy usage. By reducing the amount of energy needed to support the critical IT load, data center managers can now use that money to invest in new hardware and software solutions to help manage their business.  The standard utility program is not as effective as it could be in supporting energy efficiency measures that are specific to data centers. The key element of an electricity service provider’s strategy for addressing the data center market will be developing a niche energy efficiency solution offering focused on data centers.


DNV GL has successfully designed and implemented Data Center Energy Efficiency projects on behalf of our utility clients. Our team has significant experience on both new construction and retrofit data center energy efficiency projects from small server closets to co-lo facilities.  We work through the entire cycle of project identification, justification, and evaluation and follow this up with detailed engineering analysis and post installation review, assuring that the promise of a Data Center Energy Efficiency project is fully realized.  Our team is also available to work directly with Enterprise Wide Data Center Operators to assist them in company- wide energy efficiency initiatives.  For more information contact John J Greco or visit our knowledge hub.

Mr Greco is a D.O.E. Certified Data Center Energy Practitioner, Certified Energy Manager, Certified Measurement and Verification Professional, Certified AEE Building Sustainable Energy Technician Trainer, Certified Lighting Energy Technician, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology form the State College of New York.


[1] Megabyte (1 000 000 bytes)

Gigabyte (1 000 000 000 bytes)

Terabyte (1 000 000 000 000 bytes)

Petabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)

Exabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)

Zettabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)

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