Sustainability efforts drive datacenters to pursue infrastructure alternatives

Datacenter infrastructure refers to the noncomputing equipment necessary for the normal operation of IT hardware in a datacenter setting, including aspects such as cooling, power, and rack systems. These components play a critical role in ensuring facilities operate smoothly and reliably in a sustainable way. They can allow for improved efficiency and cost optimization, which are always top-of-mind for datacenter providers.

In a recently conducted survey with the 451 Alliance, 1,012 IT decision-makers were asked about infrastructure trends in the current industry space. Survey results indicate hybrid solutions for IT infrastructure are still the norm in the industry. Furthermore, the increasingly important sustainability debate around datacenters has drawn attention to lithium-ion batteries as possible alternatives or supplements to diesel generators. UPS under Eco Mode function is now utilized by the majority of organizations. In addition, liquid cooling is also surging in popularity as more companies consider switching to it, although it will likely coexist with air cooling for the foreseeable future.

Hybrid IT – here to stay

Survey results indicate that the most widely adopted workload venue is cloud (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, and hosted private – 76% of survey respondents reported that their organization leverages some form of those services.

In addition, 45% of respondents also own or operate their own server rooms or closets, and 39% operate their own datacenters. In addition, 21% own a datacenter facility but contract the operations to a facilities management provider, and 19% use colocation.

Lithium-ion batteries

The recently conducted 451 Alliance survey found that 80% of respondents are considering using lithium-ion batteries as alternatives or supplements to traditional diesel generators. About 21% of respondents indicated they will continue to use diesel generators with no plans to switch over to the lithium-ion batteries, and 33% stated they will continue to use those generators but will ensure that new backup system deployments use lithium-ion battery banks.

In addition, 33% said they plan on switching to lithium-ion battery banks entirely. Out of those, 19% plan to do it in 12 months; 10% in two to four years; and 4% in five years. Another 11% say they already implement only lithium-ion battery banks for all their energy backup systems.

UPS systems

Midsize UPS systems are the most commonly used by survey respondents. 39% of organizations stated their UPS systems are in the 200 kVA-500 kVA range, and 45% indicated theirs are in the 500 kVA-1,000 kVA range. Conversely, 10% of respondents use larger-sized systems, above 1,000 kVA, and only 6% use smaller ones, in the 100 kVA-200 kVA range.

Furthermore, the Eco Mode function for UPS systems is also becoming more popular, with 66% of respondents stating that their UPS systems have that function and that they activate it in operation. 21% say their UPS systems have the Eco Mode function, but they do not activate it in operation, and only 13% say their UPS system does not have the function at all.

Power shelf and battery shelf for rack architecture are also gaining momentum as opposed to centralized UPS architecture. 38% of respondents note they have a centralized UPS architecture and plan to continue using it over the next five years. On the other hand, 59% stated they plan to replace their centralized UPS architecture with a power shelf and battery shelf in their rack architecture within the next five years. Of those, 34% plan to update their infrastructure in 12 months, 19% in two to four years, and 5% in five years or more. In addition, 2% of respondents stated they already moved to a power shelf and battery shelf for rack architecture from a centralized UPS architecture.


Liquid cooling has drawn attention in the industry in recent years, but it remains far behind air cooling in terms of adoption. 43% of survey respondents stated they use an air cooling system and plan to use it for the next five years.

51% indicated they use air cooling systems but plan to move to liquid cooling in the next five years, out of which 31% plan to do it in the next 12 months, 17% in two to four years, and 4% in five years. Only 3% of respondents stated they had already moved to liquid cooling.

Out of respondents whose organizations are considering or have moved to liquid cooling, 34% are in favor of immersion, 19% prefer direct-to-chip (cold plate), and 47% are interested in both.

What is an AI Datacenter?

Want insights on datacenter trends delivered to your inbox? Join the 451 Alliance.