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Pioneers in the Data Center

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

BY EILEEN FERETIC

"Midsize enterprises are more aggressive and pioneering than either small or large enterprises." That surprising statement comes from "2010 State of the Data Center," a report conducted by Applied Research for Symantec (www.symantec.com/about/news/resources/press_kits/detail.jsp?pkid=sdcreport2010.

The report, which surveyed 1,780 enterprises around the world, states that midsize enterprises "are adopting new technology initiatives such as cloud computing, replication and deduplication at 11-17 percent higher rates than small or large enterprises."

After reading this, my first question to Sean Derrington, director of the Storage and Availability Management Group at Symantec, was "Why are midsize companies the leaders in these areas?" Considering the resources available to large companies, I assumed that they would be the pioneers. But when Sean explained, his answer made a lot of sense.

"Midsize companies can be more nimble," he said. "In large companies, a lot of individuals are involved in setting technology strategies and making tech decisions. They generally have many layers in their IT organizations, which can slow things down. Midsize companies don't have those layers, so they can adopt new technologies more quickly to differentiate themselves, reduce time to market and gain a competitive advantage."

The report contained other interesting, if less surprising, information. Top concerns, voiced by one-third of the respondents in all size companies, were the increased complexity in data centers and the fact that productivity is hampered by having too many applications. Two-thirds said they have 10 or more key initiatives in play, with security, backup and recovery, continuous data protection, server virtualization and storage resource management listed as the five most important ones.

The issue of disaster recovery generated two seemingly contradictory responses: "Eighty percent of the survey respondents said they had confidence in their disaster recovery plans, yet one-third said they have plans that are undocumented or need work," Derrington reported. "Plus, one-third haven't re-evaluated their DR plan in the last 12 months."

In addition, 41 percent don't include cloud computing initiatives in their plan, 28 percent don't cover remote offices and 23 percent don't include virtual servers. Given the missing pieces in their DR plans, how can these managers have confidence in them?

That's a mystery that the report couldn't solve, but it does offer some recommendations. A key one is "deploy a single, unified platform for physical and virtual machine protection to simplify information management." That would certainly eliminate the problem of virtual machines not being included in DR plans. "Enterprises need a data protection and DR strategy that includes all physical, virtual and remote systems," Derrington added.

Other key concerns mentioned in the report involve funding and personnel. Almost half of the respondents said finding the budget to fund their operations was a "big/huge" problem, and close to 40 percent listed finding qualified applications as a major challenge.

Derrington reported that the average annual budget of the data center managers surveyed was $1 million, and they expect that to increase by about 10 percent over the next two years. The biggest changes will be in applications and infrastructure, each of which will increase by 19 percent.

These expected increases are a welcome change from the cuts IT managers have had to deal with during the last two years. Hopefully, there will also be increases in IT staffs.

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