Complexity: Growing Data Center Challenge

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Data centers are running more applications and more operating systems, and often doing so with fewer skilled IT workers, according to a new study from Symantec Corp. (SYMC). The survey of 500 IT and data center workers found that 85 percent of respondents said an increase in the number of servers and applications is contributing to additional complexity in the data center, while 75 percent said decreasing headcount was complicating that challenge.

The State of the Data Center study, which was conducted in April, was commissioned by Symantec to identify key issues and trends in data center management, which Symantec serves with a suite of storage and standardization tools called Data Center Foundation.

Sean Derrington, Symantec’s director of storage management, said the survey findings “are quite consistent with what we’ve been seeing and hearing. Businesses are requiring more applications on more servers with different OSes,” said Derrington. “What we’ve been seeing is that it’s not going to scale. People are trying to master complexity and get control of their environment. We provide a software infrastructure that can be used across the data center.”

Data Center Foundation consists of a suite of services orginally developed by Veritas, the storage specialist acquired by Symantec in 2002. Symantec’s data center management business generated revenue of $368 million in the first quarter of 2007, flat compared to the March 2006 results and up 8% from the fourth quarter of 2006.


“Data centers are experiencing a significant increase in complexity as additional applications, servers and tools are implemented within data centers to address rising business demands and service level expectations,” said Kris Hagerman, group president of Data Center Management for Symantec. “In order to create competitive advantage for their organizations, IT professionals must reduce data center complexity, regain control in the data center and control costs. Standardizing on a common software infrastructure layer gives IT professionals the necessary means to align IT with the business by uniting and managing multiple server platforms, storage devices, virtual machines, databases and applications with fewer disparate tools.”

The survey fond that 99 percent of respondents worldwide are implementing or planning to implement IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) frameworks to manage IT services. Eighteen percent have already implemented ITIL, 52 percent indicate that it is an ongoing process, 22 percent will implement ITIL over the next year and nine percent over the next three years.

Symantec’s approach to data center management emphasizes standardizing applications on a single layer of software infrastructure across their entire data center, allowing enterprises to replace dozens of different tools and improve utilization of storage and server hardware assets.

Symantec, which is primarily known for its consumer and enterprise security products, says it is the fourth-largest software company in the world. In November 2006 it acquired Company-i Limited, a UK-based professional services firm that specializes in addressing key challenges associated with managing a data center in the financial services industry, for about $30 million. With that additional expertise and new products for the Veritas line, Symantec chairman and CEO John Thompson is upbeat about prospects for the business in the coming year.

“We feel confident that standardization and the growing adoption of new data protection, storage and server management technologies will help drive revenue growth in this segment during FY2008,” said Thompson.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.