Green Data Center Industry

An Expert's View about Computer Facilities Management in Japan

Last updated: 30 Jun 2011

The Japanese data center market continues to grow with sharp increases in processing data volume. At the same time, there is increasing pressure on data center operators to reduce carbon emissions to combat global warming. Green data centers are designed to consume power optimally through the use of environment-friendly facility and ICT solutions. Data center-related industry associations and the government of Japan (GOJ) are aggressively promoting energy efficient data center technologies and solutions.

Japan has suffered greatly since the recent March 11 megaquake and related disasters. In the wake of this tragedy, Japanese firms have recognized anew the importance of data and information protection. Data centers are therefore increasingly viewed as a way to prepare for natural disasters and provide for business continuity. There are about 50 data centers in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Most data center facilities in Tokyo escaped major quake damage and many were exempted from the rolling electricity blackouts that started soon after the quake. The GOJ has estimated that there will be a maximum power shortage of 15 million kilowatts in areas serviced by the Tokyo Electric Power Company if the summer of 2011 turns out to be as hot as last year’s summer. Therefore, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced that it will ask large industrial electricity users in Tokyo and the Tohoku area to consume 15 percent less electricity compared to the previous year to avoid potential blackouts this summer. Data centers will be exempted or given a lower reduction target in order to maintain vital economic activities such as bank services and telecommunications, but they will be encouraged to decrease energy consumption. Data center operators are increasingly seeking new technologies and solutions to promote power saving and this situation should create various opportunities for U.S. exporters in the Japanese market.

Market Demand
According to Yano Research, the data center market in Japan is projected to grow by an average of nine percent per year for the next few years. Along with cloud computing, the expansion of internet services and increasing dependence on network systems continue to drive significant increases in data center capacity. Data centers in Japan have been improving efficiency to go “green” through data center consolidation and virtualization as well as by replacing old equipment. Still, data centers require continued efforts to increase the use of energy efficient equipment and technologies to address the problem of soaring power consumption. U.S. exporters of cutting edge energy- saving products and technologies will therefore have great market opportunities. Among these, server virtualization has become a mainstream energy-saving technology. The market for various virtualization solutions such as server virtualization, storage virtualization and backup tools is expected to grow steadily. U.S. firms enjoy a favorable position in the virtualization market thanks to their widely recognized technological leadership. The market for data center facilities such as racks, cooling devices, power distribution systems, high efficiency uninterruptible power supply (UPS), generators and alternative power sources such as solar/wind power is also expected to grow.

To promote green data centers further, there is a need for a consistent and reliable metric for measuring data center energy efficiency at the global level. In February 2011, a global task force including the United States, European Union and Japan reached agreement on a measuring protocol for Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).

PUE is derived by dividing the amount of power entering a data center by the total amount of power needed to operate the entire data center, including all ICT equipment, cooling infrastructure, etc. It is expressed as a ratio, with efficiency improving as the ratio decreases toward 1.0. The Japan Data Center Council (JDCC) has been working with the Japanese government to create policies to tackle data center-related problems as well as additional energy efficiency metrics for data centers.

The recent disasters in Japan have provided another driving force for the data center market. After March 11, many Japanese firms are considering moving their in-house server rooms to data centers in order to combat expected power shortages this summer in Japan. To transfer in-house servers to a data center is a simple solution to reduce power consumption as well as provide better disaster recovery options. Many data center vendors have therefore been receiving inquiries from Japanese firms which operate their own server rooms. This is because data centers use earthquake-proof construction to minimize damage to services and are also equipped with high capacity batteries and self-generators in case of power outages.

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Posted: 30 June 2011, last updated 30 June 2011