Inside the Data Center Transformation

By William Atkinson

A new report published by QuinStreet Enterprise, titled “2014 Data Center Outlook: Data Center Transformation—Where Is Your Enterprise?” investigates how the usage of data centers is changing. Once viewed as a necessary expense to keep day-to-day operations running to meet business needs, data centers are now perceived as possessing the potential to add great value to the business. In addition, enterprises are realizing that it requires significant new investments in their data centers to achieve this business potential.

“The main reason for this shift in thinking is that the function of the data center has changed,” says Amy Newman, senior managing editor, custom content, for QuinStreet Enterprise. “There is an increasing awareness that technology can deliver business value and improve the way the business is run. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that, in more and more enterprises, the CFOs and CIOs are coming into more alignment in terms of goals.”

The survey of 321 IT professionals, conducted by Palmer Research and QuinStreet Enterprise, found that 88 percent of enterprises are investing in data centers in one way or another, with server virtualization, storage virtualization and energy-efficient hardware being the most popular initiatives. (For a copy of the report, click here.)

Specifically, 27 percent of these enterprises have recently upgraded their data centers to provide additional capacity and capabilities for business transactions, content serving, computing capabilities and data analytics. “Upgrading involves going to the next version of the same technology, which typically has better functionality,” says Newman.

The other 61 percent are in the process or will soon be in the process of modernizing their data centers in order to meet employees’ and customers’ information needs. “Modernizing is a much bigger technological shift than upgrading,” Newman notes. “Modernizing involves either a brand new technology or a big change in the existing technology.” Upgrades that are designed to modernize involve more than just the latest version of a technology that has already been deployed; they typically feature new technologies or major improvements to existing ones.

The report examines eight technologies of varying maturity that are being utilized in data centers. (The numbers in the parenthesis refer to percent of enterprises that have already deployed or are deploying, percent of enterprises that are planning to deploy in the next 12 months, and percent of enterprises that are considering a deployment.) The eight technologies are:

·         Server Virtualization (43%, 15%, 25%)

·         Storage Virtualization (29%, 19%, 32%)

·         Energy-Efficient Hardware (29%, 16%, 36%)

·         Converged Infrastructure (23%, 13%, 37%)

·         Cloud Delivery Model (19%, 19%, 35%)

·         Big Data Analytics (15%, 20%, 35%)

·         Software-Defined Networking (14%, 15%, 33%)

·         Flash-Accelerated Servers (10%, 17%, 35%)

The size of an enterprise appears to have minimal impact on the benefits of modernization, according to the survey. That is, regardless of how large or small an enterprise is, all of them can reap substantial benefits from modernization initiatives.

However, the survey found that a greater percentage of enterprises with 1,000 or more employees involved in or considering modernization initiatives encounter inadequate budgets, lack of visibility into resource usage, and adapting to new processes than do all enterprises as a whole. “This was somewhat surprising,” says Newman. “On the other hand, it tends to be larger enterprises that are moving forward with these technologies, so it does make sense.”

About the Author

William Atkinson is a freelance writer for CIO Insight. 

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