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Gartner: Data managers experiencing major data growth difficulties

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4th Nov 2010
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What's the biggest challenge for data centre managers? Data growth of course – and that's not about to change any time soon, according to research firm Gartner

According to a recent survey by Gartner, 47% of survey respondents rank data growth in their top three challenges, followed by system performance and scalability at 37% and network congestion and connectivity architecture at 36%. 
"While all the top data centre hardware infrastructure challenges impact cost to some degree, data growth is particularly associated with increased costs relative to hardware, software, associated maintenance, administration and services," said April Adams, research director at Gartner. "Given that cost containment remains a key focus for most organisations, positioning technologies to show that they are tightly linked to cost containment, in addition to their other benefits, is a promising approach."
Investment in data archiving and retirement projects are the most popular response to this challenge, with 62%  of respondents planning such projects or continuing current investment in them through year-end 2011. 
Other high-ranking IT projects that will be employed to address the issue of data growth are data security from internal, external or hacker risk; storage consolidation; storage management tools; and data reduction techniques.
System performance and scalability inevitably remain an issue and one that's likely to expand as the economic recovery kicks in.  "As the global economy begins to revive in 2010 and organisations start to shift focus to a return to growth, IT organisations will be challenged to support the various growth initiatives," said Naveen Mishra, principal research analyst at Gartner. 
"Many data centre managers were forced to defer infrastructure upgrades and extend technology refresh cycles in 2009 and, as a result, are now dealing with an aging infrastructure or, in some cases, product obsolescence. Vendors wishing to tap into this reopening market should propose infrastructure solutions that are high in efficiency and offer scalability as the demand grows, thus helping the companies to prepare for a return to growth."
Network congestion and connectivity architecture is becoming more problematic as a new generation of servers with multicore processors demand significantly high input/output (I/O). If these servers are virtualised, this requirement further goes up with traditional LAN switches not designed to meet this sudden upsurge in network demand.Increased reliance on WAN can be another trigger for network-related challenges as users are consolidating their IT systems, especially as individual users are increasingly working remotely or going mobile. 
Gartner advises vendors to help customers to be strategic with their network infrastructure rather than continue to take a silo approach. "While survey respondents reported that their top challenge with respect to their data center infrastructure was data growth, they did not rank 'existing data centre at or nearing capacity and/or utilisation limits' as one of their top drivers for strategic change in the data center, " warned Adams. 
When asked what the three most important drivers of strategic change in their organisation's data centre would be through the end of 2011, half of respondents said business continuity and availability. The second and third most commonly mentioned drivers were cost containment initiatives — 37%  — and maintaining or improving user service levels and satisfaction — 36%. 
More than half of the survey respondents plan to expand capacity at their existing data center site by the end of 2011, and 30% plan to build new data centers, although there is wide variance by respondent country. The top three technologies that respondents plan to invest in through 2011 are server virtualisation (67% ), application consolidation or rationalisation (56%) and blade servers (51%).

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