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Data Centre Management Costs Continue To Grow

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Despite increased automation capabilities, IDC points to a range of data centre approaches that are driving higher management spending

A new report out today says IT departments still aren’t implementing optimum data centre practices, as a lack of automation, coupled with the proliferation of virtualisation technologies is leading to management sprawl.

IDC‘s European Data Centre Management Survey 2010 has found that, despite continued economic pressures, large European organisations still expect their spending on staff working in data centre management to grow by 10 percent over the next year – approximately nine times the expected growth in IT spending in 2010.

The study concluded that a number of different approaches to data centre systems and infrastructure were driving the higher spend on management. The prevalence of manual tasks and extra management requirements as a result of rapid virtualisation adoption emerged as major culprits.

In fact a quarter of organisations said they were still managing their servers and storage manually, leading to much higher costs compared with organisations that are using some management toolsets. While only 14 percent of organisations have a fully integrated management framework.

Jon Gasparini, principal consultant at IT services company, Morse told eWEEK Europe that he was not surprised so few respondents had integrated data centre management frameworks. “But it’s definitely something that needs addressing,” he said. “By bringing together the different silos of management and automating their tasks through the technology stack organisations can reap massive cost savings.”

Chris Ingle, IDC Consulting associate vice president added that European organisations had moved on in their approach to managing their data centres, compared to when the research firm last conducted a similar survey in 2006. “In particular, virtualisation and automation have brought ways to reduce cost and free up resources,” he said. “However, there is still considerable potential to reduce cost by improving management.”

The IDC report revealed the ability to integrate server, storage, and network management was cited as an accompanying challenge by 31 per cent of respondents.

Ratmir Timashev, president and chief executive of VMware tools and infrastructure management provider, Veeam, said it wasn’t surprising that organisations were reporting challenges and complexities in managing their virtualised data centres. “The rush to virtualisation has caused added complexities that ultimately lead to increased inefficiency,” he said.

“Many businesses have used virtualisation across a broad spectrum of infrastructure with little thought on the impact this has on the data centre. Data centre teams are being swamped with reams of information with no idea of what it really represents or how critical it is,” Timashev added.

Over half (52 percent) of the data centre owners questioned by IDC said they relied on their virtualisation provider for management systems to manage their virtual environment, with 32 percent using their systems vendor and 16% looking at management suite suppliers.

In response to rising costs, the ability of increased levels of data centre automation to reduce the cost of data centre management and improve alignment with business goals was recognised by 69 percent. But, although cost was the main factor, improving security by reducing errors was the second most commonly mentioned reason for using data centre automation.

Nathaniel Martinez, IDC Systems and Infrastructure group programme director said that data centre managers were more concerned with finding suppliers that could address security and availability problems. He said: “IDC believes that CIOs need to both reduce their operational cost in the data centre and, importantly, show a stronger plan for how investment in the data centre contributes to business success.”

“What companies need to realise though is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, advised Gasparini. “It’s possible and 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. By doing this they’ll be able to pay back the cost of automation within months.”