Opening the Computing Data Centre Summit 2013 in London today with a keynote speech, chief reporter Graeme Burton outlined the results of a major research programme into trends within the data centre.
The first result he announced was somewhat surprising.
We hear a lot about the need to reduce energy usage within the data centre, both for environmental reasons and also because power consumption is a limiting factor that determines the maximum computing power that a given data centre can produce. Indeed, over the last five years the overall proportion of power consumed by IT has continued to increase as more and more business and services goes digital.
However, among the UK organisations surveyed by Computing, 56 per cent said power consumption has actually decreased over the last five years, with a further 10 per cent saying it is unchanged.
The reason for this discrepancy is two-fold.
First there is the continuing march of virtualisation, which is allowing organisations to use servers much more efficiently. Server virtualisation has revolutionised the data centre over the past five years, but Computing's research found that typically only half of an organisation's servers are currently virtualised. However, by 2016 respondents believed this would jump to around 80 per cent on average.
A similar picture of growth was observed with storage virtualisation; from a base of about 30 per cent of storage resources virtualised now, this is predicted to rise to 60 per cent in three years' time.
The second factor behind the reduction in power usage in respondents' data centres is outsourcing.
Whereas three years ago upwards of 90 per cent of data centre operations were retained in house, that number has now dropped to 80 per cent with a further 10 per cent reduction expected over the next three years.
This represents a huge opportunity for outsourcing and cloud companies who can expect to see continued growth in their marketplace.
However, the survey uncovered a widespread sense of dissatisfaction with some cloud and outsourced services in terms of customer service, value for money and quality of service. It was felt that often the wrong services are moved to the cloud, or that outsourcing was often mistakenly felt to be a quick-fix or way of cutting costs when often it turns out to be anything but.
The keynote concluded with a look at the data centre's place in supporting the organisation's business. While 38 per cent said that cloud is a key part of their plans, 56 per cent cited improvements in their own in-house data centre as their main goal, suggesting that despite the rise of cloud, the in-house data centre will be here for some time to come.