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Data Centre management still lacking, warns IDC

March 18, 2010 4:57 pm

By Tom Jowitt

Staffing costs for data centres operated by large European organisations are predicted to rise by 10%, despite the recent financial turmoil. But research house IDC has warned that CIOs are still not implementing optimum data centre management practices.

Of the 300 corporations surveyed across the UK, France, and Germany for IDC’s 2010 data centre survey, a quarter (25%) admitted that they are still managing their servers and storage manually. This of course pushes up running costs compared to companies that utilise some type of management tool.

The IDC survey of large and medium-sized organisations also revealed another shocking stat, with only 14% of organisations admitting they had a fully integrated management framework.

‘Data centre management is still a massive issue for organisations,’ said Jon Gasparini, Principal Consultant at IT services provider Morse, commenting on IDC’s findings. ‘Firstly, they continue to grow rapidly; and secondly, the technology within the data centre is growing ever more complex,’ he said.

Need for prioritisation

‘Although it’s not surprising to see that only 14% of organisations have an integrated management framework, it’s definitely something that needs addressing,’ said Gasparini. ‘By bringing together the different silos of management and automating their tasks through the technology stack organisations can reap massive cost savings.’

Morse’s Gasparini feels that while undertaking an enterprise-wide automation project can be daunting and time consuming, companies should realise that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and that it is often preferable to take a step-by-step approach to data centre automation.

‘Companies should be deciding the management tasks that are the biggest drain on their time and looking to automate these first,’ Gasparini said. ‘By doing this they’ll be able to pay back the cost of automation within months.’

‘Data centre management is not being ignored, but it is not been given the priority it should,’ Chris Ingle, IDC’s Associate Vice President (Consulting) told DatacenterDynamics. ‘Two reasons – the costs are not always explicit, we had to do a lot of work to get this data. Secondly, it’s complex and dealing with that complexity is an enormous challenge.’ The IDC research also revealed that only 30% companies saw data centre operational cost as a priority, with 25% concerned specifically about software licence costs.

Virtualisation push

And it seems that virtualisaton is being blamed for changing the nature of data centre management and increasing the data centre management burden. Overall, the prime management concern is the ability to integrate server, storage and network management (31% of respondents). According to IDC, larger data centres are more concerned with unifying their physical and virtual management, whereas smaller sites believe it is essential to integrate different virtualisation technologies into a single management strategy.

IDC found that 52% of organisations are relying on their visualisation provider to help them with virtualisation management, and 32% are actually using their systems vendor to manage their virtual environment. Only 16% are casting their eyes at suppliers of management suites.

‘Virtualisation is interesting now as it forms a larger chunk of investment in the data centre,’ said IDC’s Ingle. ‘What virtualisation is doing in respect of management though is adding another layer to manage and hence adding complexity.’

VMware management specialist Veeam agrees, and believes that the rapid growth and uptake of virtualisation has increased the management burden that CIOs are facing. Veeam warns that rapid adoption may not be in an organisation’s best interest, and that organisations need to stop rushing in.

CIO challenges

‘That organisations are starting to report a diverse range of challenges and complexities when managing their virtualised data centres is not surprising,’ said President and CEO of Veeam, Ratmir Timashev. ‘The rush to virtualisation has added complexities that ultimately lead to increased inefficiency.’

‘Excited by its potential, many businesses have used virtualisation across a broad spectrum of infrastructure with little thought on the impact this has on the data centre,’ said Timashev. ‘Data centre teams are being swamped with reams of information with no idea of what it really represents or how critical it is.

‘Next-generation, fully virtual data centres should help eliminate these inefficient processes. For example, by ensuring that mission critical applications are virtualised and hence made more efficient instead of the current status quo where they reside on cumbersome physical severs,’ he added.

‘By using the right tools and best practices, CIOs can reduce the need for additional personnel, growing and fine tuning their virtualisation-based data centres with relative ease,’ Timashev said.

IDC believes that the industry needs to help CIOs, by demonstrating the benefits of improved management practices. The analyst group is calling for suppliers to better package their approach, but this is not helped by the fact that organisations are divided on the best way to approach their data centre management. 58% are looking for modular solutions and 42% prefer an integrated approach.

This article first appeared on DatacenterDynamics