Wednesday, October 28, 2009

AFCOM 2009/2010 Data Center Trends Survey Reveals Weakness in World Cyber Terrorism Readiness and Government Greening

(BUSINESS WIRE)--AFCOM, the world’s largest data center association, today (October 27) announces its 2009/2010 Data Center Trends survey that offers perspective and insights on the major trends facing 436 commercial, government and college/university data centers throughout the world; twenty percent responsible for budgets of $10M plus. Significant findings reveal that though threat of cyber terrorism is real, it is not being adequately addressed by the world's keepers of the most confidential financial, military and personal data. In addition, it reveals the government is behind its private industry counterparts in terms of greening initiatives. Meanwhile, it shows that the mainframe may be losing its place in worldwide data centers, as servers become more capable. And cloud computing, despite the hype, hasn’t pushed beyond 15 percent acceptance at this point. In comparison, 73 percent have implemented virtual processing.

“We designed this survey to better understand current trends in the industry, and to help our members understand what others are doing to get to that next level in operational effectiveness. In many cases, the results and analysis of this survey are bringing awareness to areas that need improvement. For instance, the industry needs a clear definition of cloud computing and virtualization; we’ve supported data center professionals for three decades now and many of these terms seem merely re-packaged and over-marketed new names for technologies that have actually been around for quite some time,” said Jill Eckhaus, CEO of AFCOM. “Our analysis also shows that data center managers need to develop more comprehensive cyber terrorism policies, and get more aggressive in greening, particularly in government agencies where greening lags behind private industry. Finally, it’s time to decide where the mainframe is still viable and needed, and where high-end servers can do a more efficient job.”

A closer look – survey background

AFCOM is the only data center association that represents both the IT and facilities side of the data center. Respondents, part of AFCOM’s 4,500 member data center sites, represent 27 countries, 83 percent in the U.S. and 17 percent overseas; 60 percent are responsible for Information Technology, 31 percent Facilities and 9 percent represent other roles in the data center. The survey, completed in early October in conjunction with AFCOM’s bi-annual Data Center World Conference and Expo, asked respondents questions regarding their greening initiatives, cyber terrorism, emerging technologies, mainframe usage and about their plans for consolidation, performance monitoring and storage strategies, among other initiatives.

A closer look – survey results

Data center greening, no longer just a concept, but obstacles still exist

The survey re-iterates that greening of the data center is no longer just a concept – it is actually taking place, and on a large scale, with 71.3 percent of all respondents indicating they are actively engaged in greening initiatives at this time. And while 71.3 percent are, in fact, engaged in greening, only 42.2 percent have a “formal” greening initiative. According to respondents, the most important results they have experienced as a result of implementing green measures are in power efficiency, 60.8 percent report they are using less power and 51.4 percent have implement cooling efficiency strategies. In addition to power and cooling efficiencies, 11.5 percent also report a significant savings in water usage.

Data centers & cyber terrorism, a real threat that needs more attention

Cyber terrorism has become even more prevalent in the past few years. From hackers attacking NATO computers to cyber-attacks in China, Estonia, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea and the U.S., it’s not likely a threat that will go away any time soon. Data center professionals must be well-equipped to handle and respond to cyber terrorist attacks, but according to AFCOM’s survey, there’s considerable room for improvement.

Respondents revealed that 60.9 percent of all data centers worldwide officially recognize cyber terrorism as a threat they need to deal with, but only a little over one-third (34.4 percent) have included it in their disaster/recovery plans, which would include their best defense plans if attacked. Only one in four, or 24.8 percent, has addressed cyber terrorism in their policies and procedures manuals and only 60.2 percent have a written policies and procedures manual. Meanwhile, less than one in five, or 19.7 percent provide any cyber terrorism employee training. On the positive side, however, 82.4 percent report that they do perform background security checks on all potential new employees, another solid defense against cyber terrorists.

Data center consolidation spurred by economic reality

Data center consolidation has historically been cyclical in this industry. As the economy suffers, more companies have traditionally looked to consolidation as a method of saving money. The economic downturn we are experiencing today is no exception, with 62.1 percent of all respondents either already in the process of consolidating one or more data centers, or seriously considering it. More than half of respondents (52.1 percent) plan to relocate their newly consolidated data center to another existing facility, or build an entirely new one to accommodate the additional requirements.

Emerging technologies breaking through – from cluster to cloud

According to the survey, the technologies with the highest levels of adoption in today’s data centers are: virtual processing, implemented by 72.9 percent of all respondents, Web applications (70.4 percent), automation (54.8 percent) cluster computing (50. percent), and cloud computing (14.9 percent).

Surprisingly, in addition to the slim 14.9 percent who utilize cloud computing, this technology has been considered by an additional 46.3 percent, but never implemented.

AFCOM’s Data Center Institute (DCI) has undertaken an in-depth research project on the myths and realities surrounding cloud computing that will be released at AFCOM’s 2010 Data Center World in Nashville, Tennessee, March 7-11. To register, visit www.datacenterworld.com.

The state and fate of the mainframe

Only 39.6 percent of all data centers worldwide still operate mainframe computer systems today. In data centers that have mainframes installed, the median number in residence is two. And of all the data centers that have mainframes installed, 45.7 percent expect to replace one or more of them in the next two years. Of those that are expecting to replace their mainframes during the next two years, more than two out of three, or 67.1 percent will be replacing them with new mainframes, and 32.9 percent will be replacing them with high-end servers or other alternatives.

Based on this data, AFCOM concludes that the number of data centers using mainframes today versus five and ten years ago, is going down, and the future will continue this trend. Approximately one-third, or 32.9 percent of all existing mainframe data centers will no longer use mainframes in the future. Of all data centers with no installed mainframes today, 38.2 percent report that they did have them ten years ago and another 27.2 percent had them five years ago. And, according to respondents, five years from now, an additional one-third of those with mainframes today will no longer have them.

Performance monitoring gets more active

As witnessed by the number of performance monitoring tools and dashboards on display at AFCOM’s recent 2009 Data Center World in Orlando, performance monitoring in the data center is finally coming into its own, with many critical systems and components under 24/7 scrutiny. As the consequence of error in the data center has risen so dramatically (with the entire company dependent on all systems being continually available), the need to find and correct any and all malfunctions on the fly has become a necessity. In many cases, automated performance monitoring helps fulfill that need.

According to the survey, power consumption is now being monitored by 68.1 percent of respondents, network traffic by 65.8 percent, storage capacity by 64.4 percent, server utilization by 61.7 percent and Web security by 54.1 percent.

Data center facilities in terms of growth, expansion and relocation

Sixty percent of all respondents report that they expect to require additional data center space within the next five years. 32.6 percent expect to handle the growth and need for additional space by physically adding to and/or upgrading existing facilities and 30 percent report they will relocate to a new facility. Additional growth and expansion strategies to include 22.0 percent that will utilize a co-location center to meet their increased space requirements, 13.8 percent will use managed hosting services, and 11.2 percent will add pods or Data centers-in-a-box.

Changing storage requirements of the data center

Nearly two out of three worldwide data centers, or 63 percent, report a dramatic increase in their storage requirements over the past five years. Another 35.9 percent report a ‘slight’ to ‘moderate’ increase and only percent of all data centers saw their storage requirement decrease. Somewhat surprisingly, only 8.3 percent report that the main cause of their increased storage needs has been government regulations – while a whopping 77.5 percent attribute it to business growth.

“We’ll use the results of the survey to help us plan tracks, sessions and round tables at the 2010 Data Center World conference in Nashville in order to help professionals develop solutions for trouble spots and share successes and failures to date around all these trends,” continued Jill Eckhaus, AFCOM CEO. AFCOM’s next Data Center World conference and trade show is scheduled for March 7-11, 2010 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. For more information and to register, visit www.datacenterworld.com. “It’s going to be a great show and corresponds with AFCOM’s 30-year anniversary – if you cover or work in the data center, you’ll want to be there. Our show isn’t just a display of data center products; it’s a place where extraordinary education takes place.”

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