This week I had the pleasure of presenting at the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas, NV. This was my first time presenting at the Gartner event and it represented an interesting departure from my usual conference experience in a few ways and I came away with some new observations and thoughts. As always, the greatest benefit I personally get from these events is the networking opportunities with some of the smartest people across the industry. I was surprised by both the number of attendees ( especially given the economic drag and the almost universal slow-down on corporate travel) and the quality of questions I heard in almost every session.
My talk centered around the coming Carbon Cap and Trade Regulation and its specific impact on IT organizations and the data center industry. I started my talk with a joke about how excited I was to be addressing a room of tomorrow’s eco-terrorists. The joke went flat and the audience definitely had a fairly serious demeanor. This was reinforced when I asked how many people in the audience thought that regulation was a real and coming concern for IT organizations. Their response startled me.
I was surprised because nearly 85% of the audience had raised their hands. If I contrast that to the response to the exact same question asked three months earlier at the Tier One Research Data Center Conference where only about 5% of the audience raised their hands, its clear that this is a message that is beginning to resonate, especially in the larger organizations.
In my talk, I went through the Carbon Reduction Commitment legislation passed in the UK and the negative effects it is having upon data center and IT industry there, as well as the negative impacts to Site Selection Activity that it is causing firms to skip investing Data Center capital in the UK by and large. I also went through the specifics of the Waxman-Markey bill in the US House of Representatives and the most recent thought on the various Senate based initiatives on this topic. I have talked here about these topics before, so I will not rehash those issues for this post. Most specifically I talked about the potential cost impacts to IT organizations and Data Center Operations and the complexity of managing both carbon reporting and both direct and indirect costs resulting from these efforts.
While I was pleasantly surprised by the increased awareness of senior IT, business managers, and Data Center Operators around the coming regulation impacts, I was not surprised by the responses I received with regards to their level of preparedness to reacting these initiatives. Less than 10% of the room had the technology in place to even begin to collect the needed base information for such reporting and roughly 5% had begun a search for software or initiate development efforts to aggregate and report this information.
With this broad lack of infrastructural systems in place, let alone software for reporting - I predict we are going to see a phenomena similar to the Y2K craziness in the next 2-3 years. As the regulatory efforts here in the United States and across the EU begin to crystallize, organizations will need to scramble to get the proper systems and infrastructure in place to ensure compliance. I call this coming phenomena – CO2K. Regardless what you call it, I suspect, the coming years will be good for those firms with power management infrastructure and reporting capabilities.