Asian firms set for data center refresh

Companies in Asia face growing pressure to transform their data centers due to space and power constraints, but it does not have to be a one-off exercise, say experts.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Data centers in Asia are not as old as their U.S. counterparts, but there is growing pressure to restructure the region's facilities, according to market analyst IDC.

Data centers in Asia on average have been in operation between five and eight years, with most of them expecting to function for another seven to 11 years, Patrick Chan, IDC's chief technology advisor for emerging technologies research in the Asia-Pacific region, said Tuesday at an IDC conference in the island-state.

Factors such as business expansion and regulatory compliance, are driving the need for additional server and storage capacity, noted Chan, adding that there will be space and power concerns as a result. Space utilization, for now, is not as bad a problem in Asia as compared to other regions. A more pressing issue for Asian data centers, however, is the growing problem of power provision and energy usage, he said.

According to Chan, economic and IT trends will "mandate restructuring of data centers" over the next four to five years. However, data center transformation in the region will have its set of challenges, as Asian companies typically refrain from tearing down their data centers to build new ones. Having to renew, rather than, replace archaic structures would be challenging for organizations, he explained.

Virtualization, added Chan, is helping to provide a dimension of change in the region's data centers. Citing results from IDC Continuum Survey this year, he noted that virtualization adoption has increased in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan region. Over 10 percent of the 1,375 respondents indicated that more than half of their x86 servers were virtualized.

Speaking at the same event, Craig Slattery, Dell's director for enterprise platforms and solutions marketing in Asia-Pacific and Japan, noted the biggest energy and cost savings are derived from a combination of technology refresh and virtualization. Citing a data center productivity study that forecasts the expected savings between 2009 and 2012, he said up to 6,563 megawatts per hour, and US$3.4 million, could be saved over the three year period.

Making data centers more efficient does not have to be a one-off exercise, Slattery pointed out. The company, for instance, recommends its customers to have a "rolling refit" of their data centers every nine months.

From experience, the first refit cycle typically provides operational savings or "rolling benefit" that help organizations continue with the next cycle, he explained.

The technology refresh cycle, said Slattery, would be more effective if businesses adopt newer and more efficient technologies. In addition, they need to "turn off old systems" that are not efficient and wasting energy resources. "A lot of people find that difficult to do," he noted.

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