New research from QuinStreet Enterprise sheds light on why investments are being made in data centers, and what the investments focus on, as well as which technologies might not be receiving as much investment in the coming year.
Why Modernize the Data Center
The survey found that 88 percent of enterprises report that they are investing in their data centers, which are seen as having the potential to add value to the business. Twenty-seven percent recently made upgrades to address additional capabilities needed in supporting business transactions, content serving and data analytics. The rest – 61 percent – are looking to modernize their data centers. The modernization efforts don’t occur in a vacuum, however. As the report summary explains:
“Modernization, however, is more than just implementing a new process or deploying technology. It is a continuous improvement cycle, and as a result, data center modernization is never truly complete. Hence, it’s no surprise that 36 percent of survey respondents consider their data centers a work in progress, 25 percent describe their data centers as in the process of being modernized, and 27 percent consider their data centers to be upgraded. A scant 8 percent do not view modernizing their data centers as a priority.”
Key benefits of data center modernization are enhanced security (74 percent), improved uptime/availability (73 percent), and improved IT resource usage (67 percent). The highest rated benefit related to cost is better IT staff efficiency, at 65 percent, but enterprises did not rank cost savings as one of the highest benefits, which vendors should note.
When it comes to the biggest challenges to data center modernization, security and compliance top the list. While they are also key benefits, 58 percent of respondents ranked them as the largest challenge, followed by inadequate budgets, slow backup recovery, lack of visibility to resource usage, and power and cooling costs.
With Which Technologies Will the Modernization Be Accomplished?
Survey respondents were asked about eight technologies: server virtualization, storage virtualization, energy-efficient hardware, converged infrastructure, cloud delivery model, Big Data analytics, SDN and flash-accelerated servers. Virtualization, one of the most mature technologies examined, is seen to present the same benefits and challenges by respondents: Security and improved IT resource usage are major benefits, while security/compliance and budgets, as well as lack of visibility into resource usage, are chief concerns.
One of the hottest topics for IT Business Edge readers in 2013, software-defined networking, or SDN, “is considered an emerging technology and thus lacks the penetration of the more mature technologies about which respondents were asked. Less than 30 percent of those surveyed have deployed or plan to deploy SDN in the next 12 months, while almost 40 percent have no plans.” And converged infrastructure, which packages multiple components in order to create an optimized, centralized IT resource system, and another rising topic last year, received similar responses. “For respondents, converged infrastructure and SDN seem to go hand in hand. Enterprises looking to deploy SDN heavily favored converged infrastructure to do so.” For both SDN and converged infrastructure, large percentages of respondents will look to a third party for implementation: almost three-fourths will do so for SDN and 85 percent for converged infrastructure.
Interestingly, for as much attention as it has received for many years, fewer than 20 percent of respondents are using cloud as a delivery model, and 19 plan to implement cloud as a delivery model in the next year. More than a quarter of respondents have no plans for cloud at this time. Time will tell for cloud: “The zeitgeist behind cloud may pay off in the long term, however, as 35 percent of respondents are considering cloud as a delivery model but have not set a timeline for adoption.”
And, finally, another highly scrutinized technology area and strategy, Big Data analytics, is still ramping up:
“…15 percent have deployed or are deploying tools for Big Data analytics. Another 20 percent are planning to roll out tools for Big Data analytics in the next 12 months. Despite this growth, close to one-third have no plans to deploy Big Data analytics tools.”
And who will the decision makers be in the modernization process? “In enterprises of all sizes, IT decision makers and business management are equally involved when determining strategies and approving budgets. In all other steps in the process, IT decision makers have greater influence.”
The survey was conducted online by QuinStreet Enterprise Research using an email invitation sent to IT professionals and executives in the QuinStreet Enterprise database. All respondents were involved in the IT purchasing process for data center hardware, software and networking products. The survey was completed by 321 qualified professionals in July and August, with a margin of error of +/- 5.7%.