Symantec’s 2008 State of the Data Center Report Reveals Managers Pressured to “Do More with Less”
Struggling with adequate staffing, data center managers worldwide are compelled to deliver better service levels to meet increasing demands while reducing costs.
CUPERTINO, Calif. – Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) today released the findings of its 2008 State of the Data Center report. The second annual study found that data center managers are caught between two conflicting goals – more demanding user expectations and higher levels of performance, yet reducing costs remain the primary objective for the data center. The report also found that data center staffing remains problematic, servers and storage continue to be underutilized and disaster recovery plans are out of date.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 center 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 percent reported user expectations are rising gradually or rapidly. Furthermore, 60 percent of the respondents saw meeting the service levels demanded by the organization to be more difficult or much more difficult to meet. Only 10 percent 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 combined (improving service levels and improving responsiveness).
The key initiatives data centers are pursuing to “do more with less” include automation of routine tasks (mentioned by 42 percent of respondents), cross-training staff (40 percent) and reducing data center complexity (35 percent).
Staffing Remains a Big Issue
According to the study, staffing remains a crucial issue with 36 percent reporting that they are understaffed while only 4 percent reported being overstaffed. Furthermore, 43 percent say finding qualified applicants is a big or huge problem.
To address the staffing issue companies are leaning on outsourcing and training. Nearly half (45 percent) outsource primarily to give data center staff more time to focus on other tasks. The top three leading IT functions that businesses are outsourcing include business continuity (46 percent), backups (43 percent) and storage management (39 percent). Training is seen as strategic by 68 percent of the respondents, with 78 percent 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 center servers were operating at just 53 percent of capacity. Data center storage utilization was even lower at 50 percent. Not surprisingly Symantec found a flurry of activity aimed at increasing utilization in both areas.
The major server-related initiatives include server consolidation (80 percent) and server virtualization (77 percent). For storage the leading initiatives were storage virtualization (76 percent), continuous data protection (71 percent) and storage resource management (71 percent).
Disaster Recovery Lags Behind
Data center management continues to report room for improvement in the area of disaster recovery. In fact, just 35 percent report their disaster recovery plan is above average, while 27 percent say it needs work and 9 percent report their plan is informal or undocumented. Companies still find that human error is the biggest cause of unplanned downtime, being the culprit 25 percent of the time. Hardware/software failure and power outages follow closely behind.
Green Data Center Driven by Cost
Continuing the trend first spotted in 2007, the data center’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 Center was important to their workplace. Reducing electricity consumption was mentioned by 54 percent, followed by reducing cooling costs (51 percent) and a sense of responsibility to the community (42 percent).
Report Underscores Need for Solutions
This year’s study shows the continuing importance for companies to control data center complexity and costs. With the mandate to literally 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.”
About Symantec’s State of the Data Center Research
Symantec’s second annual State of the Data Center report is the result of a survey conducted in September and October of 2008 by Applied Research. The study targeted 1,600 data center managers in Global 5000 and large public sector institutions located in 21 countries. To access the complete 2008 and 2007 State of the Data Center reports or review additional State of the Data Center resources, please visit the State of the Data Center online press kit.
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