IT teams from midsized U.K. and U.S. businesses polled still spend more than half (56 percent) their time on server management and troubleshooting in a typical month, and only 28 percent on strategic, "value-added" activities, according to a survey released by cloud computing specialist Rackspace Hosting.
Despite the widespread availability of cloud and managed hosting, many organizations are clinging to physical servers, leaving in-house IT teams struggling with troubleshooting and capacity planning amid demands from their bosses to do more for less, the survey found.
The report shows that most U.K. and U.S. businesses seem to have either made poor progress or taken a step backward regarding server management. The majority (59 percent) of U.K. respondents admit they have either bought too many servers, which has wasted money, or bought too few, which has meant a lack of capacity. In 2009, 55 percent of respondents said they got this wrong.
In the United States, the situation is worse: 67 percent said theyve purchased the wrong number of servers, compared with 47 percent in 2009.
The respondents indicated that U.K. IT teams spend 50 percent of their time on server maintenance and troubleshooting today, down from the 57 percent revealed in a 2009 Rackspace survey. Yet using these results, a U.K. IT team member on average would still spend an estimated 912 hours a year just servicing servers, rather than helping drive innovation.
U.S. businesses reported that their teams spend even more of their time62 percent in a typical monthon server maintenance, and only a quarter of their time (25 percent) on value-added work.
In addition, the "hassle of managing servers" seems to be a problem for far more U.K. and U.S. businesses now (79 percent) than was indicated in the 2009 survey (58 percent). Similarly, top gripes regarding managing servers physically on-sitehardware maintenance (53 percent), having to be available 24/7 (50 percent), and the cost of buying and maintaining servers (40 percent)are voiced by more respondents in both the United States and the United Kingdom now than as reported in the 2009 survey.
Problems associated with having to manage and maintain servers are often readily solved by cloud and managed hosting services. In 2009, one-third (33 percent) of businesses surveyed expected to outsource their in-house servers in the next two to five years, said Fabio Torlini, vice president of cloud at Rackspace. However, over two years later, the new study suggests that many midsized businesses are still chained to their servers, and may be spending unnecessary time and money on them.
A large percentage of U.K. and U.S. IT decision makers interviewed said they are under mounting pressure to support business growth and change (89 percent, up from 65 percent in 2009), improve flexibility (88 percent, compared with 66 percent) and help drive internal innovation (88 percent, up from 61 percent). In addition, businesses are also facing demands from the board to reduce IT spending, according to 87 percent of respondents (up from 65 percent in 2009).
This years results show that 38 percent of respondents now expect to outsource their in-house servers in two to five years (35 percent in the United Kingdom and 40 percent in the United States). Top barriers to moving to cloud hostingquestions regarding security (54 percent), reliability (47 percent) and return on investment (42 percent)are holding back more organizations now than indicated in Rackspaces 2009 survey. For example, security is seen as a barrier to server outsourcing by twice as many respondents in 2012 (54 percent), compared with 2009 (27 percent).
According to Torlini, the way the cloud and managed hosting market is maturing, as suggested by the study, represents a challenge to users and cloud and managed hosting service providers alike. In 2009, almost two out of five (40 percent) of respondents didnt know what cloud computing was. In 2012, everybody does, and is looking at it the benefits and the issues, he explained. The challenge for midsized businesses is to stop unnecessarily holding onto their in-house physical servers, and give themselves a chance to focus on more important and valuable work. The challenge for cloud service providers is to provide the right advice and services to help more of them overcome the barriers to doing just this.