Data Company Office
Expert Services Office Elen Davies

UK companies with large numbers of computer servers are still unlikely to make energy efficiency a priority, according to a new survey.

The study, commissioned by server manufacturer Asus, found that among data organisations with over 11 servers, only 35% believed energy efficiency should be a factor in their purchasing decisions, while 24% said energy efficiency is of less importance than 12 months ago.

In contrast, of firms with two to five servers 62% of respondents agreed that energy efficiency should be a factor in their decisions, and 81% said their IT department has an energy-efficiency and sustainability policy.

Researchers said one explanation for the variation between big and small companies may be differing expectations around energy prices. The study found staff from organisations with ten or more servers are twice as optimistic as those surveyed from smaller organisations that energy prices would return to long-term trends within two years.

The study also revealed that younger IT managers were up to twice as likely to prioritise energy efficient solutions when making decisions, developing policy and setting budgets. Of respondents aged 25 to 34, 57% agreed that server-related energy costs should be a line item in their IT budgets, with 21% disagreeing. Among staff aged 55 or over, just 19% agreed and almost half (46%) disagreed.

Morten Mjels, ASUS's UK & Ireland Country Product Manager for servers, said that the data indicates a perceived trade-off between attributes such as performance, energy efficiency and warranty. He said this had forced IT managers and procurement departments to choose based on which attribute is most important to their organisation.

"All major manufacturers are focused on improving server energy efficiency, while performance world records are broken all the time, by the same servers. It's a story the industry needs to tell more: you can have both energy-efficiency and performance," he said.

Vlad Galabov, Director of Cloud and Data Center Research at Omdia, said the survey results represented "an important step in tackling the misconception that end-users have to trade off performance for efficiency and vice versa."

In February 2020, the European Commission declared that the IT sector needs to undergo a "green transformation," as the environmental footprint of the sector is significant - estimated at 5-9% of the world's total electricity use and more than 2% of all emissions. However, the past year has seen a dramatic rise in energy prices and ever-more-frequent warnings from environment agencies.