Business data needs are always changing, and for many organizations, aligning those needs with evolving business goals means improving data center efficiency.
And achieving efficiency in the data center environment — a compilation of servers, storage, network systems, mechanical/electrical systems, applications and tools, governance procedures and staff — means organizations see marked advantages.
According to a January 2012 study of 308 IT executives from seven countries, organizations that have made the push for efficiency in their data center operations have seen greater investment on strategic initiatives. Staffs spend more than half of their time on new projects versus maintaining the infrastructure, and 39 percent are planning transformational projects to re-engineer their IT service delivery, as compared with 23 percent at less efficient data centers.
Another benefit to greater data center efficiency is greater staffing efficiency. Organizations enjoy more than 2.5 times the staffing efficiency, averaging 27 servers per administrator, compared with 10 for less efficient data centers.
A third advantage is greater flexibility. More than half of the companies with the most efficient data centers support a high rate of organizational change compared with just 6 percent for less efficient data centers.
For IT professionals looking for a sort of playbook to designing a strategy for data center efficiency, there are four key steps that organizations with the most efficient data centers take. These organizations:
Optimize the server, storage, network, and facilities assets to maximize capacity and availability. Consolidation through virtualization is a necessary first step in the path to achieving data center efficiency. According to the survey, 48 percent of all strategic data center servers are virtualized, 93 percent use virtualized storage, and 92 percent use data deduplication technologies.
Design for flexibility to support changing business needs. Change is accelerating, putting pressure on infrastructures to keep pace. Almost 90 percent of executives operating efficient data centers indicate that they are among the first to adopt new technologies.
Use automation tools to improve service levels and availability. Greater reliance on automation tools and technologies offloads manually intensive tasks for system administrators, reduces error rates, and ensures the performance of applications against their SLAs. In fact, 81 percent of efficient data centers move VMs across physical hardware, enabling much higher levels of flexibility and availability; 85 percent have automated tiered storage; and 60 percent use automated network management.
Have a plan that aligns with the business goals — and keep it current. Organizations with the most efficient data centers are far better prepared to take advantage of market opportunities as the economy rebounds. They have heavily utilized consolidation projects to optimize the number of data center sites they maintain. Of these organizations, 68 percent plan to build in smaller increments of capacity rather than build out all at once, and 25 percent forecast the space needed to support the 10 to 20 year useful life of a data center.
Organizations looking to get data center operations in line with business goals must start working toward making their data centers more efficient. And making data centers efficient will bring those organizations a host of benefits.
What is your organization doing to achieve greater efficiency in the data center? What benefits have you seen from efficiency at your organization?
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LORENZO M. BOLTONGTS Marketing ManagerIntegrated Communications ServicesBusiness Continuity and Resiliency Services
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