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AFCOM's Five Bold Predictions for the Data Center

Follow-up is a good thing, especially after one offers predictions. It shows boldness, candidness and strength of character—especially if the predictions are way off the mark.

In March 2006, the data center industry group AFCOM, which has a research arm called the Data Center Institute, released a study called "Five Bold Predictions for the Data Center." The prognostications were based on a survey conducted that same year.

We're not saying anybody was way off the mark. But because things have changed so drastically and the economy has taken a tumble, the DCI thought it would be a good idea to revisit the predictions and update them to fit today's economic climate. Some of these updates were derived from a subsequent survey of AFCOM members—mostly IT managers and CTOs/CIOs—taken in November 2008.

So, at the AFCOM Data Center World conference this week in Las Vegas, the industry group on March 10 released an updated "Five Bold Predictions for the Data Center."

Here they are now:

Prediction 1: By 2015, the talent pool of qualified senior level technical and management data center professionals will shrink by 45 percent.

Due to the recession, the shrinking of the talent pool of senior-level technical and management data center professionals has actually sped up. Many businesses have had to close their doors. Others have had to lay people off.

A key note: In 2002, Meta Group reported that 55 percent of all IT workers with mainframe experience were then over 50 years old. Seven years later that number is easily over 60 percent. Overall, the DCI does see the critical IT talent pool shrinking even more because of the economy.

Prediction 2: By 2010, more than half of all data centers will have to relocate to new facilities or outsource some applications.

This has slowed down. The DCI's most recent survey shows that 40.1 percent of all data centers cutting budgets will have to delay or cancel a planned physical expansion or relocation. Because of this, we believe we'll see an increase in outsourcing as data center space gets tighter and capital spending drains.

Prediction 3: Over the next five years, power failures and limits on power availability will halt data center operations at least once at more than 90 percent of all companies.

The DCI was right on target here; it does not foresee any changes in this prediction.

Prediction 4: By 2010, nearly 70 percent of all data centers will utilize some form of grid computing or other virtual processing.

The DCI believes this to be happening faster than expected. The most recent surveys indicate that 86.2 percent of all data centers expect to increase the use of virtualization and, to a lesser extent, other technologies such as cloud and utility computing to cut back the need for new servers.

Prediction 5: Within the next five years, one out of every four data centers will experience a business disruption serious enough to affect the entire company's ability to continue business as usual.

The DCI believes this will worsen. Reported budget cuts indicate that 6.1 percent of all data centers will have to decrease their physical security measures, 4.5 percent will have to decrease their data security, and 11.5 percent forecast that budget cuts they are making will result in an increase in service interruptions.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...