Data center technologies cause concern despite benefits

Denise Dubie
25 Sep 2008

Recent research shows IT executives worry the challenges associated with implementing and maintaining next-generation data center technologies such as virtualization and power consumption controls could outweigh the potential benefits.

Separate surveys found that IT executives and high-tech managers are concerned over their ability to both manage virtual operations and maintain the efficiencies virtualization deployments promise to deliver. Research results also showed that while companies seek ways to monitor and reduce power consumption in their data centers, doing so with their current tools is challenging and limited.

'Our survey confirms that businesses are indeed challenged most by the need to effectively manage the increased complexity in today's data centers, while at the same time keeping networks running smoothly and power consumption costs down,' said Ben Grimes, Avocent CTO and vice president of corporate strategy, in a statement.

Avocent in April 2008 commissioned Actionable Research to survey nearly 300 executives and IT managers, and the company this week at VMworld shared the results. According to Avocent, 89% of companies polled currently use server virtualization, most of which is in production. About one-third of those indicated their companies adopted virtualization to reduce hardware costs, and another 32% said reducing power consumption motivated them to deploy virtual servers.

About 20% of respondents to Avocent's survey reported losing a virtual server location, and about one-quarter have experienced the disappearance of a virtual server from their system entirely. The findings also show that 45% of those polled are concerned about being able to get virtualization skills in house, with about the same amount saying getting skilled IT staff in house is among the biggest data-center headaches today. More than 42% indicated that change and configuration management ranked as a top concern, with another 40% saying infrastructure management caused concerns. Another 44% worried about protecting virtual servers from failure.

When it comes to measuring power consumption, more than 80% find this capability valuable, and 55% of respondents said they measure power usage in their data center, primarily at the UPS level.

'Survey respondents said that energy conservation was the most difficult issue to resolve with their current tools,' Avocent's report reads. 'Respondents felt that managing the total costs of power was the second-most-difficult task, and many of the respondents noted that their interest and work with virtualization technology were influenced by the hope of ultimate energy savings.'

Separately, EMC released at VMworld 2008 the results of a survey of 150 IT business professionals conducted on the company's behalf by the Enterprise Strategy Group. The results show that less than one-fourth of respondents feel confident in maintaining service levels in virtual environments when using existing management tools. The top three concerns for managing VMware environments were application performance monitoring, virtual security management and mapping virtual machines to physical infrastructure, according to EMC.

'As virtualization technologies continue to be deployed in larger and more complex production environments, greater emphasis will be placed on day-to-day management needs of these environments,' said Bob Laliberte, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, in a statement. 'Specifically the requirement for operations teams to have complete visibility of the virtual infrastructure and how that maps to the physical infrastructure will be critical.'

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