Research: 2010 Data Center Survey
Tipping the Scales: 2010 Data Center Operational Trends
The economy has driven corporate America to make some painful adjustments over the past year. But for data center managers, the pressure to contain costs is both unrelenting and nothing new—after all, it’s impossible to maintain a low profile when your area of responsibility consumes the bulk of the IT budget.
Still, we’re feeling the heat like never before. In our InformationWeek Analytics State of the Data Center survey of 370 business technology professionals, just 30% of respondents say they will see a larger data center facilities budget for 2010 compared with 2009, yet half expect resource demands to increase. “We can barely operate day to day within our constrained budget processes, security postures and procurement processes,” says one survey respondent, summing up the overall mood.
This is getting to be an all-too-familiar story. In our InformationWeek Analytics 2010 State of Enterprise Storage survey of 331 business technology professionals, when asked about their top concerns, nearly half said they have insufficient storage resources for mission-critical applications. Compared with our 2009 poll, even more professionals are faced with insufficient budgets to meet business demands, insufficient tools for storage management, and insufficient storage resources for departmental and individual use. The good news for the data center is that effective management and judicious use of server virtualization and emerging technologies can return big payoffs. These advances are tipping the scale to favor CIOs, who are finding significant opportunities to extend the lives of their data centers through efficient operations.
“Our major thrust is on consolidation and virtualization to handle some of the growth, physical space and electrical power issues,” says Will Dougherty, director of systems support at Virginia Tech. “Due to the corresponding budget crisis, we’ve been using the open source Xen hypervisor as opposed to VMware. We’re also reviewing older equipment, particularly those pieces that we’re housing for other departments outside of IT, to try to bring them into line with our lifecycle management guidelines. Removing two or three really old servers can often free up enough space and electrical power to add five or six—and sometimes more—new servers.” Another education-sector IT pro is absorbing the added data center load of desktop virtualization with an eye to the future. “It’s a tradeoff,” says Keith Kunkel, senior information processing consultant with the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. “Long term, we’ll realize cost savings on the desktop side, which will be redirected back to the data center.”
Another sore point for respondents is driven by both server virtualization and storage growth. Because higher density does not directly translate into better power efficiency, high density can be both a solution and a problem. In this report, we’ll mainly focus on efficiency while digging deeper into getting more out of existing resources, but if all you do is pack more equipment into less space, you just created an expensive, high-density cooling problem for no net power-savings benefit. In fact, empty space in racks can create the false impression that the data center has plenty of room to install more of that high-density equipment.
How could we be out of power when we still have empty racks, right?