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The data centre trilemma: Balancing speed, substance and sustainability

Data centre and critical environment specialist, Keysource, has published its sixth annual State of the Industry Report.

The report, which gathers the views and insights from over 250 IT Directors and Senior Datacentre professionals, highlights the trilemma the industry is facing in dealing with the competing and compelling challenges of developing and delivering on sustainability targets; the pressure to speed up project delivery to remain competitive; and the continuing supply chain and skills issues. This is against a background of rising costs and new EU and imminent UK Regulation changes.

The report shows that the skills shortage continues with competing demand both ‘client side’ and within the supply chain for the same people. This is reflected by the fact that only a third of respondents are confident in the quality of the information that is being provided which negatively impacts the ability to make informed decisions. As a result, nearly half of respondents chose to sub-contract more projects or services than they had planned, as the industry turns even more to supply chain partners to keep to programme timescales. According to the majority of respondents this approach had a positive impact including better quality and quicker delivery, with the inevitable trade off of a higher cost.

There are some encouraging findings around sustainability with 69 per cent of respondents having a seat at the table when discussing sustainability targets and over half having a separate ‘green budget’ that can be used for sustainable solutions and initiatives. However, this positive progress is at odds with the just 17 per cent who consider sustainability to be a high priority and the fact that less than a third said they were making significant progress with their sustainability strategy – with over half still not having one at all!

In addition, 64 per cent of respondents haven’t evaluated the carbon impact of existing data centre services and solutions and 57 per cent aren’t intending to evaluate future investments, meaning missed opportunities to make both carbon and financial savings.

Jon Healy, COO at Keysource, commented: “The pressure to speed up project delivery is perhaps the most concerning finding of the report with 75 per cent of those surveyed identifying quality issues which could reasonably have been identified or better managed earlier as a result. Certainly, we are seeing some organisations prioritising speed above all else which is at best risky, especially considering our respondents’ strong concerns about getting the correct advice as the skills shortage continues to bite.”  

He continued: “The inrush of available capital that we have seen enter the data centre market is reflective of its promising returns and the comparative performance of other markets. This is coupled with a relatively low risk given its resilience through recent years, which is overall very positive for the short and medium term of the industry. This said, regional conditions can quickly change given the influences this sector has from a range of areas such as technology, regulation, energy resources, corporate governance, and a lack of skilled people.

“So, whilst this year’s state of the industry report shows that the data centre and related sectors continue to grow despite these challenges and the current global unrest, political scepticism, and economic uncertainty, it also flags that a number of common challenges still remain and these are forcing decision makers to operate differently.  Our industry has a clear trilemma and the need to solve all three are equally important!”




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