Survey Suggest Data Centres are Aging and Not Suited to New Technologies

A survey by the Aperture Research Institute (ARI) of more than 600 data centre facilities worldwide has shown that data centres are aging and companies are not planning ahead or demonstrating timely investment in new data centres.

More than a third (38%) of organisations surveyed said that their current data centre 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 centres. The remainder, just over one third (36%), had predicted the demand for scaling with their operations and are building and/or planning new data centres.

Steve Yellen, Principal of the Aperture Research Institute said, “The average time required to plan and build a new data centre is typically three or more years, which leads us to a worrying conclusion about the future of data centres and the impact of this lack of foresight. Data centre 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 centre, 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 centres, 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 centre, more than a quarter
(26%) were anticipating a build time of between two and three years before the centre would go live, while 15% had planned more than three years for builds.

The ARI survey of more than 100 data centre professionals in the finance, healthcare, government, retail, pharmaceutical, and telecommunications industries also highlights the management challenge faced by data centre 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 centres 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 centre industry, is showing little sign of slowing down. More than half (57%) of all respondents with current data centre builds, say their data centre 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.

Steve Yellen concluded, “This ARI survey reveals some worrying trends, as you can’t simply ‘build’ a data centre overnight. Instead of fire fighting the issues created by this short-term planning and trying to manage outdated data centres, organisations should be focused on overall business goals and the role that long-term data centre planning can have in business effectiveness and long-term competitiveness.”