Like many others in our industry, a handful of my colleagues recently attended DatacenterDynamics (DCD) Enterprise conference in New York City last month. They reported back that much of the discussion was on the future … both the immediate and (not so) distant.

The keynote speakers focused on Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and new technologies that are or will be entering the marketplace. But in the hallways, vendor booths, and cocktail hours, most of the conversations centered on the growing desire to reduce costs without sacrificing network resiliency or negatively impacting sustainability efforts.

How is this achievable? I believe it has something to do with a buzzword that came up time and again on a panel discussion I participated in last year and recapped in a blog post last year: “Dematerialize” — to eliminate unnecessary hardware and to leverage advances in modern data center design and technology. 

In this post-recession economic climate, data center operators are more compelled than ever to try and do more with less. This means increasing computing capacity with less infrastructure that consumes less space and costs less in electricity each month. And, in our eco-conscious society, these smaller, cheaper and more efficient technologies must also help facilities reduce their carbon footprint, not increase it.

One key trend: a recent report found that nearly a thousand companies have implemented (or will soon) an internal carbon tax designed to quantify the cost of carbon emissions and drive all departments and business units to reduce energy use and improve efficiency. This bodes well for vendors with products that can help a data center save money in the near future and help save the planet. As more operators begin placing equal importance on reducing costs while increasing sustainability, vendors offering lower total cost of ownership and higher operating efficiencies will be the big winners.

Gone are the days when an operator could justify buying the more expensive equipment simply because it was the most popular brand. Now, it’s all about eliminating waste — from the balance sheet, the aisles of a data center, and in the environment.