Data centre managers are expected to experience an increase in user expectations, while at the same time the tough economic times will force cutting costs, according to a report by Symantec, a security software firm.
A data centre is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes backup power supplies, data communications connections, air-conditioning, fire suppression systems and security devices.
The report says recruiting qualified staff is a problem, infrastructure such as servers and storage are under-used and the implementation of green data centre initiatives were completely based on cost benefits.
"These findings are not unexpected as the emphasis has shifted to improving the present set of services," said Balashanker Das, Group CIO at Al Jaber. "There will changes to plans for 2009 but as an organisation grows its IT functions and requirements will grow.
"In our organisation the forecast for 2009 focuses on improving efficiencies internally and also working with the existing manpower."
Of those surveyed by Symantec, 75 per cent said user expectations were rising either gradually or rapidly. Furthermore, 60 per cent said meeting the required service levels was more difficult or much more difficult. Only 10 per cent said service levels were easier to meet.
And when those quizzed were asked to identify their key objectives for the year, reducing costs was by far the most frequently mentioned goal. In fact reducing costs was mentioned by more companies than the next two objectives – improving service levels and improving responsiveness – combined.
The key aim of data centres was to "do more with less", including automating routine tasks (mentioned by 42 per cent of respondents), cross-training staff (40 per cent) and reducing data centre complexity (35 per cent).
Dimension Data, a Dubai-based system integrator and solution provider based, provides data centre solutions across the region. Sales and Marketing Director Nader Atout said: "In the UAE customers are looking at centralising data. There is a big demand for servers, people and infrastructure and this is provided by opting for technologies like virtualisation and blade servers. The new data centres being set up in the region are looking at these options while the old ones need to add more space and staff."
Blade servers are self-contained, all-inclusive computer servers. Atout said some organisations were looking at managed services for data centres. "With managed services we take care of the management and staffing but it is still not very common in the region," he added. The report says seven out of 10 of those quizzed said IT budgets had risen in the past two years, with 45 per cent seeing annual increases of 10 per cent or more.
Das added: "Budgets depend on the investment priorities of the company. IT is now linked directly to efficiency. There has been no change in our budgets but we are being cautious."