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Apparently they’re like warnings on cigarette packages – clearly visible and pretty much ignored, often until it’s too late.

The latest warning about the data center power crisis that threatens to disrupt global business as early as 2011 comes from Siemens AG (SI), which found in a new survey of major companies that less than half are working toward improving the energy efficiency of their data centers.

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“If we do not start looking closely at our data centers now, 70% of the world’s data centers will have tangible disruptions by 2011 and the systems will experience world-wide brownouts over the course of the next five years,” Siemens warned.

In December, Emerson Electric Co. (NYSE:EMR) warned that in just two years time, companies may not be able to add to their computing power primarily because data center operators won’t have enough electricity to expand their operations. (See Is Global Economy’s Computing Power About To Peak? New Survey Warns on Power Shortages)

It’s not that IT leaders such as Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT), IBM, Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INTC) aren’t trying to green companies’ data center operations. Rather, as the Siemens survey found, nearly three out of four companies aren’t investing more in improving their data center energy efficiency because they think the cost is too high.

Ironically, nearly 40% said they aren’t improving efficiency because their servers would have to be down too long, forgetting (or ignoring) what the impact would be of actual brownouts.

More than a quarter of those surveyed are worried about losing data, a problem the whole world may share if, as seems increasingly likely, it’s going to take a crisis before this problem is properly addressed.

Perhaps the most flabbergasting aspect of all this is that, if the head of privately-held Cassatt Corp., which makes software that improves data center energy efficiency, is correct, data centers waste up to 90% of the electricity they use. (See Data Centers Waste 90% of Their Power Because Nobody Knows How They Are Hooked Up - Part 2 of 2)

Investor Alert: all of the companies mentioned in this article could make a killing if and when a global data center power crisis strikes. Backup power business names such as Cummins Inc. (NYSE:CMI), Active Power (NASDAQ:ACPW), Exide Technologies (XIDE) and Enersys (NYSE:ENS) also could do quite well.

Still, investors shouldn’t forget that the stock market as a whole could take a nasty fall if massive amounts of business data were permanently lost and key servers were down for an extended period of time.

Disclosure: None

Source: Data Center Power Crisis Likely: Look for These Companies to Profit