Partners Cheer CenturyLink's Energy-Efficient Data Center Efforts

Telecom provider CenturyLink has proclaimed its goal: to reduce energy consumption in its data centers by 25 percent by 2023. And aiming for that goal, according to CenturyLink's partners, can help everyone's business.

By going green, partners say, the provider will lower its operating expenses, which will translate into tangible business improvements and more customer wins.

Efforts in favor of more energy-efficient data centers could also mean that the provider will be hanging onto its data center facilities in the long term, a strategy that's been in question since last year, when CEO Glen Post said CenturyLink was considering "strategic alternatives" for its data center business.

[Related: New CenturyLink Exec Corbin Steps In To Drive New Partner Relationships After Channel Chief Departs]

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The Monroe, La.-based provider has joined the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Building Challenge, which encourages corporate and public sector leaders to save energy through commitments and investments. It's part of President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan to double American energy productivity by 2030.

Through the initiative, CenturyLink -- which offers hybrid IT solutions including colocation, managed hosting, cloud and network services for business customers -- commits to cutting its energy costs and carbon transmissions across its 34 U.S. data centers.

That commitment could be attractive to customers, said Faisal Chaudhry, CEO of Spearhead Group, a top CenturyLink data center partner based in Campbell, Calif. When a customer is selecting a data center provider, sustainability is a big focus -- especially in the enterprise space, he said.

"Our customers aren't just looking for the cheapest data centers, they are looking for something that is going to be highly reliable and sustainable, so we think [CenturyLink's] effort is great," Chaudhry said.

For Phoenix-based Avnet, a technology distribution provider of hybrid data center solutions, CenturyLink has been an important strategic data center partner, said Tim FitzGerald, vice president of cloud solutions and channel ecosystem strategist for the company.

Data center power is a huge cost component that affects the expense associated with deploying workloads outside of a customer's own data center, FitzGerald said. So the initiative shows that CenturyLink has an eye on efficiency for its customers and partners -- as well as consideration for the environment, he said.

"We are excited about the spirit of innovation that CenturyLink continues to demonstrate in the cloud and colocation [space]," FitzGerald said. "Being environmentally friendly offers a feel-good component … and it prompts tangible business impact for customers' workloads in CenturyLink's data centers -- we feel that is very significant."

The provider has stated during several of its earnings calls that it is considering the sale of some or all of the data center assets it acquired from Savvis in 2011. The latest initiative could point to CenturyLink's keeping its facilities, Spearhead Group's Chaudhry said.

"If you can lower your operations costs by being more energy-efficient by even 2 or 3 percent, that ends up being a really big number," he said.

Spearhead Group, a data center consultancy firm and telecommunications solution provider, evaluates each data center or cloud provider based on its "green" initiatives, such as how much power is being used and what kind of energy sources the facility uses, Chaudhry said.

Data center and colocation providers charge partners and end customers based on space and power being consumed. The more efficient a data center facility is, the lower the cost will be for the end user, because it costs less for the provider to run the facility, he said.

The cost reduction translates into a "margin driver" for partners. That's because the data center providers that can offer lower prices because of efficient operations are winning more deals with end customers.

CenturyLink plans to carry out its energy-efficiency promise across its U.S. data center footprint, which is no small feat and will further differentiate its cloud and colocation offerings, Chaudhry said.

"It's easy to start a green initiative when you have three or four data centers, but doing this on such a big scale takes a lot of effort," he said.

CenturyLink, along with the Energy Department, will work toward maximizing efficiency over the next decade. According to CenturyLink, Better Buildings Challenge program members has saved about $1.3 billion and 160 trillion BTUs of energy since the initiative was introduced in 2011.