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A survey by the Aperture Research Institute (ARI) of more than 600 data center facilities worldwide has shown that data centers are aging and companies are not planning ahead or demonstrating timely investment in new data centers.
More than a third (38%) of organisations surveyed said that their current data center was built over four years ago, which reflects the challenge so many organisations have when coping with the intense power and cooling demands of modern hardware such as high-density blade servers and virtualisation technologies.
More worryingly, a majority of those surveyed, almost two-thirds (64%), admitted they were not planning or building new data centers. The remainder, just over one third (36%), had predicted the demand for scaling with their operations and are building and/or planning new data centers.
Steve Yellen, principal of the Aperture Research Institute said: "The average time required to plan and build a new data center is typically three or more years, which leads us to a worrying conclusion about the future of data centers and the impact of this lack of foresight. Data center managers are already facing day-to-day challenges on managing increasingly complex technologies in old facilities. But adding new technology to an aging environment is like building a high-rise office complex in a rural town. The small town, like a legacy data center, cannot support the infrastructure requirements for the office complex to operate efficiently and the occupants will never realise the benefits of the upgrade they expected. Installing state-of-the-art equipment in an aging facility will limit the benefits that can be delivered by the new technology, and in some cases, will overload the infrastructure to the point of failure.
Despite the age and unreadiness of current data centers, there is already an investment in high density computing, with over four-fifths (87%) of organisations having introduced blade servers.
Of survey respondents that were building a data center, more than a quarter (26%) were anticipating a build time of between two and three years before the center would go live, while 15% had planned more than three years for builds.
The ARI survey of more than 100 data center professionals in the finance, healthcare, government, retail, pharmaceutical, and telecommunications industries also highlights the management challenge faced by data center managers that are increasingly responsible for more disparate and numerous operations. More than a third (38%) of the companies surveyed currently operate more than six data centers and over a quarter (28%) have over ten facilities.
Power demands, one of the challenges that is creating much discussion about and within the data center industry, is showing little sign of slowing down. More than half (57%) of all respondents with current data center builds, say their data center will consume between one and five megawatts, with the same level of consumption being expected by those with planned builds (55%). Almost a quarter (22%) of planned builds will operate between five and ten megawatts.
Yellen concluded: "This ARI survey reveals some worrying trends, as you can't simply build' a data center overnight. Instead of fire fighting the issues created by this short-term planning and trying to manage outdated data centers, organisations should be focused on overall business goals and the role that long-term data center planning can have in business effectiveness and long-term competitiveness.