Survey: 1 in 10 Asean data centers run at peak efficiency

Highly efficient data centers help organizations free up more manpower to then focus on IT projects that boost competitiveness.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Only 10 percent of data centers in the Asean region are operating at their highest level of efficiency--a characteristic integral to helping organizations gain more efficient use of manpower for IT projects instead of maintenance.

Citing key findings from an IDC survey released Thursday, Simon Piff, associate vice president of enterprise infrastructure at IDC Asia-Pacific, said it was surprising 90 percent of data centers across Asean were not as efficient as they could be.

Less surprising was Singapore taking the top spot, with 38.9 percent of data centers here "strategic" and most operationally efficient, Piff said at a media briefing to discuss the survey findings. Sponsored by IBM, the study interviewed 180 organizations in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines between March and April this year to uncover datacenter efficiency best practices.

Based on responses gathered, IDC and IBM created four categories along an efficiency continuum--starting from "basic" to identify a data center that was inefficient, followed by "consolidated", "available", and "strategic" which referred to a highly efficient data center.

The main reason why few Asean data centers and more Singapore data centers operated at their most efficient boiled down to budget, Piff explained, noting that IT was an expensive resource.

Areas in which IT dollars were invested also played a part, he said.

"CIOs will invest in sexy IT that grabs the headlines and makes [people] drool, for instance, cloud or big data," he said, adding that they would not invest in storage optimization which would not excite many but was just as important.

Incidentally, not one respondent ticked all the boxes associated with characteristics of a strategic data center, Piff noted. In particular, when it came to storage infrastructure management, everyone "performed badly", he said.

Elaborating, he explained that when a company procured a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) application, for instance, the IT budget would prioritize networks and integration. When it came to storage, the company would simply acquire disk without looking at the need for deduplication so that it could divert budget toward software customization, for example.

This current lack of attention--and budget--to storage could mean a potential "train wreck" in the future, considering the tide of big data, the IDC analyst warned.

Value beyond operational efficiency
According to the study, compared to inefficient data centers, data centers running at peak efficiency were able to allocate 25 percent more IT manpower to new projects rather than maintenance.

"It's like a strategic data center has 4 people managing 1,000 servers, while a basic data center has 9 people to manage 100 servers", Piff said.

Ensuring data centers ran at their highest operational efficiency would lead to more efficient and effective use of manpower, which was the main objective of such facilities, he added.

The value from this equation matters, said David Simms, director of global data center services at IBM, who was at the media briefing.

It would free up IT staff to work on projects businesses rely on to boost growth and competitiveness, such as mobile communications, social media, big data and cloud computing, rather than spend time on maintenance just to keep the business running as per normal, Simms highlighted.

"CIOs have more requirements today than they ever have. You can't be responsive to the marketplace or market pressures if you're preoccupied with keeping the lights on," he said.

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