SMEs dominate data centre activity: Symantec

By Kathleen Lau, ComputerWorld Canada |  Hardware, storage virtualization, Symantec

Mid-sized enterprises will be leading in data centre activity this year as these companies focus on staff training and adopting technologies like storage virtualization and cloud computing to cut costs and manage increasingly complex facilities, according to Symantec Corp.'s 2010 State of the Data Centre report.

The study, conducted last November and in its third year, is based on a survey of 1,780 data centre managers across 26 countries.

A greater degree of respondents in mid-sized enterprises, 2,000 to 10,000 employees in this study, expect major changes in their data centre environments this year compared to small and large enterprises. Specifically, new initiatives were reported at an 11 to 17 per cent higher rate, like cloud computing, replication, deduplication and storage virtualization, said Sean Derrington, director with storage management and high availability with Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec Corp.

The discrepancy between company size, said Derrington, is due to the fact that mid-sized enterprises have a combination of funds and nimbleness. "They can make reactions to new technologies that are coming out and can make business decisions faster," said Derrington. Larger enterprises, on the other hand, may have the money but are very risk-averse and get bogged down in endless strategy assessments, he added.

Besides deploying new technologies this year, mid-sized enterprises will focus more on staff training and expanding the training budget. That said, half of all enterprises reported experiencing some degree of understaffing, whether moderate or extreme. The top challenge, respondents said, was finding the budget to hire and train qualified people. Seventy-six per cent also indicated they have the same or more unfilled job requisitions as the previous year.

But while mid-sized enterprises will lead in new technology adoption this year, half of all enterprises reported growing complexity in their data centres given challenges meeting service level agreements and the growing number of applications.

Derrington said enterprises can tackle this by focusing on technologies that support heterogeneous data centre environments, for instance storage management and backup recovery that works across all platforms, be it Linux, Unix, Windows, physical or virtual machines. "That's going to reduce their training costs for their employees who instead of learning multiple point tools, can just learn one tool across everything," said Derrington.

A large part of the IT budget is consumed by buying more storage, said Derrington. But instead of adding more storage, he suggests deploying management technologies to grant visibility into what is already there so sound decisions can be made for future purchases.

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