Survey: Data Centers Facing New Complexity Challenges

Data security and storage provider Symantec announced May 23 the findings of a study that reveals some harsh realities but might not be much of a surprise to many IT managers: IT professionals worldwide struggle with the increasing complexity of data center management while at the same time facing severe budget and personnel constraints.

Respondents revealed that to ease management challenges they are relying on several technologies and initiatives, including storage capacity management, virtualization and ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) frameworks.

The “State of the Data Center” study is a two-part research series highlighting top trends and challenges for data center managers. Conducted in April 2007, the first part of this study included more than 500 respondents from enterprise-class companies in the North American, European and Asia Pacific markets, a Symantec spokesperson said.

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Survey responses indicate that 85 percent cite an increase in the number of servers and applications as factors contributing to complexity in the data center. In addition, 80 percent of respondents cited an increase in the number of management tools employed, and 72 percent pointed to an increase in the number of operating systems in their environment as causes for complexity in the data center.

According to 74 percent of respondents, decreasing headcount is one of the biggest challenges in managing complex environments. In addition, 50 percent of respondents cited human error as contributing significantly to the cause of unplanned downtime in the data center. According to survey respondents, the leading causes of downtime in the data center include application error, human error and hardware failure, signaling a need for more centralized and automated tools to enhance application availability.

The study found that 99 percent of respondents are looking at ITIL as an answer to complexity. Click here to read more.

Eighty percent of respondents said an increase in the number of management tools is somewhat or significantly challenging, indicating a need for consolidation and standardization, according to Symantec, based in Cupertino, Calif.

With respondents using an average of nine server and application management tools, more than half (56 percent) of IT professionals indicated plans to consolidate the number of tools they are using. Key considerations for consolidation cited by respondents were leading functionality or performance, cost, and an integrated platform.

The IT professionals polled cited that they are also planning to implement or have implemented the following initiatives:

  • Storage allocation and resource management (87 percent)
  • Virtual server management (80 percent)
  • Storage capacity management (68 percent)
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery (68 percent)
  • Application availability (64 percent)

To master data center complexity, Symantec Group Vice President of Data Center Management Kris Hagerman said he recommends that companies standardize on a single layer of infrastructure software that supports all major storage and server hardware platforms to protect their information and applications, enhance data center service levels, improve storage and server utilization, and drive down operational cost.

“Data centers are under intense pressure that is only getting worse,” Hagerman said.

“If data centers are to meet the growing expectations placed on them for comprehensive protection and availability of their key applications, while dealing with the unfortunate reality of shrinking budgets, they need to regain control of their data centers and stem the growing tide of disparate systems and tools that don’t work together.”

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