Will data center and managed hosting customers pay more for "green" products from vendors? Up to a point, according to the latest customer survey by Rackspace Managed Hosting, which examined attitudes toward environmental responsibility. The random survey of 380 Rackspace customers found that 30 percent expect a green vendor to be a central part of their business strategy within five years.
The survey also gathered opinions on pricing issues for green products and services, which often cost more than existing options. Nine percent of respondents were not willing to pay more to work with a "green" vendor, compared to 27 percent were willing to pay a premium of 5 percent, and 25 percent would pay as much as 10 percent extra. Just seven percent of respondents said they would pay a premium higher than 10 percent.
Rackspace said it conducted the survey to assess how environmental attitudes impact business decisions. It's not an academic issue for the San Antonio provider, which recently announced plans to open a 100,000 square foot data center in Slough, England that will be powered directly by alternative energy. The new facility will get 90 percent of its power from Slough Heat and Power, which burns wood chips rather than coal.
Rackspace has said the Slough power is comparable in price to that available from the grid, although the company is paying a premium on the real estate to locate near the renewable power plant. Will customers pay slightly more to house their equipment in a green data center? It looks that way, but the survey suggests that any green premium will run into trouble if it exceeds 10 percent. Rackspace has been educating customers and employees about green options (see its Greenspace program and Green Day video), but clearly believes a green reputation may bring business benefits.
Meanwhile, Pete Sacco at the Data Center Design blog points to a feature at Xchange Magazine about green data center marketing, which concludes on a skeptical note:
"End users won't rush to replace their infrastructure with greener technology, says Blair Pleasant, president and principal analyst of research firm Commfusion LLC. For one thing, there are budgets to consider. Pleasant likens the principle to the car industry