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Sun 15 Feb 2009 04:00 AM

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Datacentres face the future

Symantec's 2008 State of the Datacentre report shows IT professionals under pressure.

Symantec's 2008 State of the Datacentre report shows IT professionals under pressure.

Security and storage major Symantec has released its second annual report on the health of datacentres, which states that datacentre managers the worldover are increasingly expected to reduce costs while at the same time pursuing higher performance levels.

The survey was carried out over 160 countries and included organisations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It delivered eight key findings, including the need for increased staffing and the proper utilisation of servers and storage.

"This research confirms what we are seeing in the field, 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," said Rob Soderbery, senior vice president of Symantec's storage and availability management group.

Two thirds of all the IT professionals interviewed in the study reported an increase in the expectations that users placed on them, with 34% of the interviewees identifying cost reduction as the key goal in 2009.

The efforts being taken to deal with this include automation, the cross training of staff and the reduction of complexity in the datacentre. One of the report's other key findings was the lack of skilled or trained staff to work in the datacentre environment, with nearly half of the respondents claiming that finding qualified applicants is a very real problem.

The analysis showed that organisations are turning to two specific initiatives in order to address and alleviate their staffing issues, namely outsourcing and training. Over 60% of the companies interviewed said that they outsource at least some of their responsibilities with no significant drawbacks or headaches resulting.

The other initiative that companies are pursuing is the training of current staff with an impressive 80% of respondents expecting the budgets committed to training to remain constant or even increase over the next year.

The move towards creating green datacentres was also highlighted in the report as a continuation of a trend first noted in 2007. This was influenced by the focus on cost savings, which are involved in going green, as opposed to the idea of social responsibility.

Although the onus is clearly on doing more with less the companies admitted, by and large, that their servers are still operating at just over 50% of their capacity, while storage utilisation was at 50% exactly. The IT staff did, however, emphasise an ongoing commitment to increasing utilisation through server consolidation together with virtualisation of storage and resource management.

Worryingly the report also highlighted a lack in adequate disaster recovery initiatives. The figures show that almost 10% of the companies have informal or even undocumented disaster recovery plans, with another 27% admitting the need for improvement in their current organisational provisos.

The other findings include the growing number of applications that IT managers are faced with. Just under half of all the respondents said that they have over 1000 applications in the datacentre, while 57% will refresh 11 or more applications. Applications that required the most in terms of IT resources were web applications, transaction, messaging and collaboration.

"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," said Soderbery.

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