APAC firms eye 2010 data center shakeup

Over 40 percent of businesses based in Asia-Pacific expect "significant changes" in their data centers, including jump in number of apps to manage, survey finds.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

Over 40 percent of businesses in the Asia-Pacific region expect to make "significant changes" to their data centers this year, according to findings of a new study.

Released Tuesday, Symantec's 2010 State of the Data Center report revealed that some 41 percent of enterprises across the region are planning to implement significant changes to their data centers. Another 50 percent indicated plans to apply minor changes in their facilities, while 9 percent pointed to "virtually no changes".

Leading the way are midsize enterprises, which are defined by Symantec as organizations with between 2,000 and 9,000 employees. Over half, or 53 percent of midmarket companies said they plan to execute significant changes to their data centers, compared with 41 percent of large enterprises and 34 percent of small businesses.

Medium-sized entities also consistently scored higher than their small-business and large-corporation peers in terms of adoption of various technologies, including cloud computing and server virtualization.

Nearly 1,800 respondents, including 560 from 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region were interviewed for the study. The telephone interviews were conducted by Applied Research in November 2009.

Symantec 2010 State of the Data Center--data center priorities

Source: Symantec (Click for larger image)

According to Symantec, an example of "significant changes" is the increase in business applications managed by the IT department. Two-thirds of midsize business respondents said the number of apps would grow "quickly" or "somewhat" in 2010, while 46 percent of large businesses indicated the same.

The study also noted that two-thirds of businesses headquartered in the region have in mind at least 10 key initiatives for 2010. Top initiatives highlighted were security, backup and recovery, and continuous data protection, with at least 80 percent of respondents stating such efforts were "somewhat" or "absolutely important".

Symantec 2010 State of the Data Center--specific data center priorities

Source: Symantec (Click for larger image)

Increasing complexity in data centers
A common grouse of IT managers in managing data center staff productivity was data complexity. Some 33 percent of respondents said data centers were becoming too complex and had too many applications, presenting a "big" or "huge problem" for IT administrators.

About half of the region's enterprises also noted that SLAs (service level agreements) were more or much more difficult, and costly, to meet.

Ronnie Ng, Symantec's senior manager for systems engineering in Singapore, told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview that in the area of storage management, businesses could tackle data center complexity by employing a management tool capable of monitoring across different storage platforms and providing a "holistic view" of utilization.

"With that view, you'll be able to report on the utilization more effectively across different storage platforms. Once you are able to do that, you can rationalize the amount of storage you actually have and be able to allocate to the application that needs it most," Ng explained. "With all the information you have, you are able to then predict how much more storage you need, so that allows you to improve the overall utilization."

Complexity, he added, could also be mitigated by eliminating storage purchases by tapping technologies such as thin provisioning and deduplication.

Server utilization of enterprises in the region, he added, stood at around 60 percent, compared with 65 percent reported last year. The increased interest in virtualization ought to improve utilization rates, but realistically virtualization would only reach "prime time" in the next one to two years.

"From a maturity angle, we're still seeing customers...evaluating the technology, rolling out in small scale [for] less-critical apps, so we don't see the true benefit of it yet," said Ng.

Other findings highlighted in the Symantec data center survey were:

•  Data center budgets were expected to rise by 10 percent over the next two years.

•  Access to expertise, need for 24/7 coverage and improved service levels were the top reasons why businesses would consider outsourcing one or more data center functions to an IT outsourcing vendor.

•  Enterprises were starting to turn to cloud computing to lower costs. When asked for their cost-containment strategies, 21 percent of respondents indicated the use of private clouds, 19 percent cited hybrid cloud computing and 16 percent acknowledged tapping public cloud infrastructure.

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