Survey Reports Most Data Centers Not Ready for Cyber-attack

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-10-30 Print this article Print

Industry association AFCOM finds that 40 percent of all data centers are still using at least one mainframe, and that about one-third of all data center managers with mainframes who plan hardware upgrades in 2010 will replace them with rack servers.

If you ask AFCOM, the world's largest data center industry association, most of its member clients aren't prepared nearly well enough for if a sophisticated cyber-attacker-or even if an unsophisticated hacker-decides to target them.

If you also ask about the status of mainframes in most data centers, you'll find that about 40 percent of all data centers are still using at least one mainframe, and that about one-third of all data center managers with mainframes who plan hardware upgrades in 2010 will replace them with rack servers.

Finally, despite all the hype around cloud computing, only 15 percent of data centers have deployed cloud solutions to date.

AFCOM, which stages two Data Center World conferences each year, on Oct. 27 released the results of its 2009/2010 Data Center Trends survey offering perspective on and insights about the major issues and trends involving 436 commercial, government and college or university data centers throughout the world.

Sixty-one percent of survey respondents said they see cyber-terrorism as a threat they need to deal with, but only a little over one-third of data center managers actually have included it in their disaster recovery plans, AFCOM said.

Only 25 percent have addressed cyber-terrorism in their policies and procedures manuals, and only 60 percent have a written policies and procedures manual, AFCOM said. Only about 20 percent provide any cyber-terrorism employee training.

On the other hand, 82 percent report that they perform background security checks on all potential new employees-another solid defense against cyber-terrorists, AFCOM said.

"Data center managers need to develop more comprehensive cyber-terrorism policies and get more aggressive in greening, particularly in government agencies where greening lags behind private industry," AFCOM CEO Jill Eckhaus said. "It's also time to decide where the mainframe is still viable and needed, and where high-end servers can do a more efficient job."

Only 40 percent of all data centers worldwide still operate mainframe computer systems today. Of all the data centers that have mainframes installed, 45.7 percent expect to replace one or more of them in the next two years.

Of those that are expecting to replace their mainframes during the next two years, two-thirds will be replacing them with new mainframes, and one-third will be replacing them with high-end servers or other alternatives, AFCOM reported.

"This could be indicative of the economy, because mainframes are much more expensive than rack servers, so they are being replaced slowly by [commodity] servers," Eckhaus told eWEEK. "This is a movement that has been happening [for a while]. Another factor is that there's a mainframe skills shortage."

AFCOM's Data Center Institute is now conducting a research project on the myths and realities surrounding cloud computing that will be released at the 2010 Data Center World, in Nashville, Tenn., from March 7 to 11, 2010. To register, go here.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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