Sizing up the State of the Data Center

Michael Vizard


Despite all the enthusiasm for virtualization specifically and cloud computing in general, it turns out that IT organizations have more physical servers than ever to manage.

Those are the findings of a new "State of the Data Center" study released by AFCOM, an association for data center managers, that is based on responses from 358 members of the organization.

According to AFCOM CEO Jill Yaoz, there would have been a lot more demand for physical servers if it were not for virtualization and cloud computing, which means that things could even be more challenging in the data center than they already are.

Almost three quarters of the respondents said they have more servers today than they did three years ago. But only about one-third said they have more staff in place to manage those servers. That imbalance, says Yaoz, suggests that IT organizations are getting a lot more efficient when it comes to managing the overall data center environment thanks to new tools and processes.

In fact, despite the growth in the number of servers being managed, a little less than half said that their data centers occupied more space than they did three years ago. However, a huge percentage noted that storage was taking up a much higher percentage of the overall space in the data center. Two-thirds of the respondents, meanwhile, reported that they have plans in place to consolidate data centers, while two-thirds of them also reported that they plan to expand the size of their data centers.

Despite all these issues, however, only about a third reported that they have implemented some form of cloud computing. In addition, the vast majority of the new servers in the data center appear to be running Web applications, which suggests that it is these types of application workloads that are proving to be the most challenging to manage.

No matter how you read the study results, one thing is clear: IT organizations are wrestling with how to maximize IT infrastructure utilization at a time when application and data growth continues unabated. Without advances in virtualization and IT automation, it's also clear that many IT organizations might find themselves between a proverbial rock and a hard place unless the fundamental economics of data center management improve at a much faster rate.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Apr 7, 2011 8:04 PM E. Rosenberg E. Rosenberg  says:
I work at a colocation company and I loved your article and the study findings. While cloud may be in our future, we have seen an increase in demand for colocation across the board [22 data centers]. Here's hoping for a continued business boom! Reply

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