European datacentres running out of capacity as importance grows

Datacentres critically close to exceeding their limits yet senior management failing to understand how essential they are

Potentially worrying research from HP has found that as even as the importance of datacentres to European business is increasing, many are critically close to exceeding their limits and that businesses’ senior management are failing to understand just how essential datacentres are.

The survey of 1,020 CIOs and business unit heads across Europe , who are under pressure to reduce costs whilst transforming technology environments into assets to drive business growth, revealed just how critical to the business datacentres have become. Both CIOs and business unit heads rated the datacentre as 8.4 on a scale of 1 – 10 in terms of importance.

Yet across Europe datacentres are approaching the limits of their energy, cooling and space resources while facing needs to comply with environmental legislation that aims to reduce carbon emission. The survey found that the majority of datacentres in Europe have reached 82% of their full capacity.

Added to which nearly three quarters (74%) of CIOs in the UK feel that business unit heads fail to understand datacentre issues. The problem most commonly encountered is that the business heads see these challenges as purely IT issues rather than business issues.

The results further reveal that a vast majority of chief information officers (CIOs) are addressing this issue in the short term through data centre rationalisation and consolidation programmes.

The biggest challenge currently facing companies in the UK with respect to managing their datacentres, is balancing the need to secure the investment required to improve facilities with the need to reduce capital expenditure, cited by just over half (53%) of companies in the UK.

The main challenges that UK companies said they face are achieving greater technology infrastructure flexibility and agility to support business growth (42%) and reducing capital expenditure on the datacentre (37%).

On average, according to the research, companies in the UK currently have 5.7 datacentres, with this figure expected to rise to 6.1 by 2011. Despite the economic downturn, 60% of companies indicated a willingness to invest in improving their facilities. Moreover, technology departments expect to see a 46% increase in the number of datacentre transformation projects planned over the next three years. In the UK companies are currently averaging 3.4 projects per year, with this figure expected to rise to 4.2 by 2011.

Commenting on the survey, Reinier van Hoeijen, director, Data Centre Transformation Services, HP EMEA expressed confidence that managed correctly, datacentre transformation could be very beneficial for firms. “[Transformation can] reduce costs whilst enabling increased flexibility and efficiency and creating better alignment between technology and the business. It also has the potential to transform the entire business, adding competitive edge,” he said.

However, he did caution CIOs that they needed to change working practices. “CIOs and business unit heads need to work together to ensure that the technology infrastructure strategy is aligned with specific desired business benefits. In order to alleviate their current pressures and ultimately reduce costs, businesses should define return on investment and the impact that transformation will have on their people, processes and infrastructure,” he added.

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