AFCOM, the international association of data center managers and enterprise IT executives, confirmed on March 30 what many people in the business are already well aware of: That a high number of data centers are not fully protected from potential disasters which, in turn, could bring their enterprises to their knees.
The March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out or severely damaged several data centers in northeastern Japan, has brought this issue into clear focus for the entire industry.
For example, Sony revealed on March 17 that its Sendai factory and data center--even though a well-protected facility--was severely damaged in the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck near there.
The Sendai Sony facility, now offline, was the only one in the world capable of manufacturing most of Sony's Professional Media Products. There is no indication as to when it might be gearing back up for production.
AFCOM, at its biannual conference in Las Vegas, released its annual "State of the Data Center" survey, a status report on data centers which polled 358 data center managers from around the world.
The purpose of the survey is to illustrate how data centers are adapting to changes in IT products and services, power and cooling issues, and to macro- and local economic impacts. The top-shelf issues have remained the same for several years: proper use of energy, physical and digital security, space limitations and convergence of functionality into smaller devices.
Key findings, according to AFCOM:
- Hundreds, possibly thousands, of data centers are not prepared well enough for potential disasters. More than 15 percent of respondents said their data center has no plan for data backup and recovery; 50 percent have no plan to replace damaged equipment after a disaster; about 65 percent have no plan or procedure to deal with cyber-criminals.
- Mainframes on the wane: Even though many midrange and large data centers utilize one or more mainframes, usage of the large machines has leveled off and is in decline.
- Cloud system adoption continues to grow. This is hardly unexpected. In 2010, only 15 percent of all data centers were using any type of cloud service in production or testing. This year, that percentage has shot up to 37 percent; 35 percent are now seriously studying or testing it. AFCOM said that the cloud computing trajectory will continue for at least five years, with 80 to 90 percent of all data centers adopting some form of cloud IT--either public, private or hybrid--by 2016.
- Web application growth: Eighty-seven percent of AFCOM respondents reported an increase in the number of Web applications they use today in production, compared with the number they were using in 2008.
- Data centers continue to get larger: Despite the edgy macroeconomy, data centers have been expanding in size; 44 percent of IT managers report that they now have more floor space that they did three years ago. Nearly 50 percent say they are currently in the process of expanding; and only 16 percent say they have downsized.