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Symantec 2008 State of the Data Centre Report


February 27, 2009
By Anthony Capkun


Symantec Corp. released the findings of its 2008 State of the Data Centre report. The second annual study found that data centre managers are caught between two conflicting goals: more demanding user expectations and higher levels of performance while reducing costs. The report also found that data centre staffing remains problematic, servers and storage continue to be underutilized and disaster recovery plans are out of date. Finally, the respondents indicated that, while they are pursuing green data centre initiatives, they are doing so primarily based on cost benefits.

“This
research confirms what we are seeing in the field,” said Rob Soderbery,
senior vice president of Symantec’s Storage and Availability Management
Group. “Attention has turned to initiatives that will drive immediate
cost reduction, rather than longer term ROI-driven programs. Storage
has been a primary focus of these initiatives as the demand for
capacity continues to rise, despite economic challenges.”




Doing more for less

Of those
surveyed, 75% reported user expectations are rising gradually or
rapidly. Furthermore, 60% of respondents saw meeting the service levels
demanded by the organization to be more difficult or much more
difficult to meet. Only 10% saw service levels to be easier to meet.




Nonetheless,
when asked to identify their key objectives for the year, reducing
costs was by far the most frequently mentioned goal. In fact, reducing
costs was mentioned by more companies than the next two objectives of
improving service levels and responsiveness combined.




The key
initiatives data centres are pursuing to “do more with less” include
automating routine tasks (mentioned by 42% of respondents),
cross-training staff (40%) and reducing data centre complexity (35%).




Staffing remains a big issue

According
to the study, staffing remains a crucial issue with 36% reporting that
they are understaffed while only 4% reported being overstaffed.
Furthermore, 43% say finding qualified applicants is a big or huge
problem.

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To
address the staffing issue, companies are leaning on outsourcing and
training. Nearly half (45%) outsource primarily to give data centre
staff more time to focus on other tasks. The top three leading IT
functions that businesses are outsourcing include business continuity
(46%), backups (43%) and storage management (39%). Training is seen as
strategic by 68% of the respondents, with 78% expecting training
budgets to rise or stay constant over the next two years.




Servers and storage remain underutilized

Companies
in 2008 reported that their data centre servers were operating at just
53% capacity. Data centre storage utilization was even lower at 50%.
Symantec found a flurry of activity aimed at increasing utilization in
both areas.




The
major server-related initiatives include server consolidation (80%) and
server virtualization (77%). For storage, the leading initiatives were
storage virtualization (76%), continuous data protection (71%) and
storage resource management (71%).




Disaster recovery lags behind

Data
centre management continues to report room for improvement in the area
of disaster recovery. In fact, just 35% report their disaster recovery
plan is above average, while 27% say it needs work and 9% report their
plan is informal or undocumented. Companies still find that human error
is the biggest cause of unplanned downtime, identified as the culprit
25% of the time. Hardware/software failure and power outages follow
closely behind.




Green data centre driven by cost

Continuing
the trend first spotted in 2007, the data centre’s focus on being green
was driven by cost issues in 2008 with social responsibility on the
rise. The study asked companies why creating a green data centre was
important to their workplace. Reducing electricity consumption was
mentioned by 54%, followed by reducing cooling costs (51%) and a sense
of responsibility to the community (42%).




Report underscores need for solutions

This
year’s study shows the continuing importance for companies to control
data centre complexity and costs. With the mandate to do more with
less, companies are scrambling to find solutions that have an immediate
effect on cost and efficiency.




“IT
managers and executives are in a tough spot,” said Soderbery. “Cost
reduction is a non-negotiable objective this year, while user
expectations remain high and demand continues to rise. We are seeing
this translate into interest in solutions that provide customers with
confidence and deliver immediate benefits in reducing server and
storage spend without disrupting today’s environment.”




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