SEA’s data centers trail advanced nations: IDC

  • Data center ops in SEA not strategic, trails counterparts in efficiency, resources; Malaysia scores lowly
  • Room for improvement; organizations to concentrate on cost of power, storage, virtualization

SOUTHEAST Asian-based (SEA) enterprises that have data center operations in their respective countries are severely lacking compared to their global counterparts with many scoring only slightly better than a basic rating, reveals a recent survey conducted by IDC, and sponsored by IBM.
Speaking to the media last week, Simon Piff, associate vice president of enterprise infrastructure research at IDC Asia Pacific, said that in a survey undertaken by IDC, only 10% of SEA-based enterprises – compared to 21% of global data centers – have achieved the highest level of “Strategic” in a four-grade rating defined by Big Blue and the analyst firm.
The study rated enterprises that have data center operations and graded them according to four stages of descending order: “Strategic,” defined as organizations which have reached peak efficiency and are allocating 25% more IT resources to new projects; “Available;” “Consolidated;” and “Basic.”
IDC said these levels are based upon global best practices, defined jointly by IDC and IBM. The levels are designed to be relevant, regardless of scale of IT infrastructure. However, all responses relate to the largest site of the responding organization, it added.
Culled from an extensive poll of 180 IT executives responsible for their organization's data center strategy and operations, the IDC/IBM Asean Data Center Survey was conducted at the end of the first quarter of 2012. The study questioned senior executives from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
SEA’s data centers trail advanced nations: IDCPiff (pic) said there are no “Strategic” datacenters in Malaysia, with 38.71% at “Available” stage; 29.03% at “Consolidated;” and 32.26% at “Basic.”
This showed that while SEA-based enterprise recognize the importance of aligning IT needs to business requirements, the use of technology is still not sufficiently aligned to the business to be considered a strategic asset, he added.

That said, Piff noted that the survey results need to be qualified. “For Malaysia, verticals that would normally be at the forefront in the data center space such as aerospace, automotive, telecom, data center and hosting, energy/utilities, healthcare and media, were not included.”
Asked why this was so, Piff said the aforementioned industries were simply not in the scope of the study originally and this had been globally decided by the computing giant and the analyst firm.
Piff revealed the following industries were covered in the survey: Electronics, government, travel and transportation, consumer products, banking, insurance and financial markets, chemical and petroleum, construction forest and paper, retail and education.
Room for improvement
For the industries that the survey did cover, Piff said Malaysia was at the “Consolidated” stage in IBM/IDC’s scale. He added that 45.2% of organizations in Malaysia had their primary data centers fully replicated with another data center in an “active-active” (high availability) configuration.
When respondents were asked if their primary data centers have a backup or secondary site in the event of a disaster, the responses came in much higher at 77.4%.
As for the question whether organizations measure power consumption of their primary data center, 48.4% said yes, while only 19% were found to have their installed servers virtualized.
Piff said the aforementioned figures were generally reflective of the state of Malaysian enterprises’ IT data center efficiencies in the sectors that were interviewed, but noted that Malaysian organizations could improve in many of these areas surveyed.
“Cost is a big inhibitor to Malaysian companies to having fully replicated data centers,” he explained. “But the real question is what is the cost of one hour of downtime to an organization? Not many people know this figure and companies must realize that it’s not just about the cost [loss] of income but also lost opportunity, brand reputation and image that will account for this number.”
Piff also noted that two areas that emerged from the survey that were of significance were the cost of power and the lack of storage technology update.
Today, the biggest single line item on a data center’s bill of materials is the cost of people [salaries] but over the next few years, this is going to be overtaken by the cost of power, Piff pointed out.
“Right now, very few CIOs have to pay the power bill as it’s not on [their personal] agendas, and forms only part of the overall organizations’ agenda,” he said. “The vendor IT community has been talking about power management but this is not a high priority for CIOs because they don’t pay the bill.
“[But] this [cost of power] is going to change as it’s going to be a significant component part of a data center’s cost,” he said, adding that this is expected to happen in five years’ time.

Noting that if organizations want to be strategic about issues like the cost of power, Piff said they’ve got to get ahead of the game, as “IT spends too much time playing catch up.”
SEA’s data centers trail advanced nations: IDCStorage ignored
As for storage, Piff said many organizations have “under invested” in storage technologies such as data deduplication, automated tiered storage, thin provisioning, and globally distributed storage architectures.
Piff noted that when an organization had a business problem, it would develop an application to solve that problem. And since this application needs a platform to run on, only then does storage become a part of that platform.
“One of the things [we’ve seen in this survey] – and this is a global observation – is the under investment in storage technologies, he explained. “When something goes wrong with the network, everyone from the tea lady to the CEO knows, and it gets fixed [quickly].
“But if there’s something wrong with storage, the network will get blamed as everyone will think it’s the network and [as a result] storage is usually an afterthought.”
Notwithstanding this, Piff believes that the conversation is rapidly changing around storage, that from dollars per gigabyte to the potential value for mining data and turning that into valuable business information.
“That’s going to change the economics of storage a lot more, which is why certain technologies like solid state disks (SSD) are gaining traction,” he said, adding that these new technologies may be more expensive but they are worthwhile to invest because of what they can give back as value.

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