CUPERTINO, CA-Symantec Corp. released the findings of its 2008 State of the Data Center report on January 12th. This second annual study found that data center managers are caught between two conflicting goals-more demanding user expectations and higher levels of performance, yet reducing costs remains the primary objective for the data center. The report also found that data center staffing remains problematic, servers and storage continue to be underutilized, and disaster recovery plans are out of date. Finally, the respondents indicated that while they are pursuing green data center initiatives, they are doing so primarily based on cost benefits.

 “This research confirms what we are seeing in the field,” said Rob Soderbery, senior vice president of Symantec’s Storage and Availability Management Group. “Attention has turned to initiatives that will drive immediate cost reduction, rather than longer term ROI-driven programs. Storage has been a primary focus of these initiatives as the demand for capacity continues to rise, despite economic challenges.”

Doing More for Less

Of those surveyed, 75 percent reported user expectations are rising gradually or rapidly. Furthermore, 60 percent of the respondents saw meeting the service levels demanded by the organization to be more difficult or much more difficult to meet. Only 10 percent saw service levels to be easier to meet. Symantec reported, however, that IT vice presidents and senior vice presidents provided a more optimistic report on service level agreements and user expectations.

Nonetheless, when 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 combined (improving service levels and improving responsiveness).

The key initiatives data centers are pursuing to “do more with less” include automation of routine tasks (mentioned by 42 percent of respondents), cross-training staff (40 percent) and reducing data center complexity (35 percent). In other questions, however, respondents expected to see spending rise in a whole host of areas, including energy costs, infrastructure, and facilities.

The entire report is available on the Symantec website and also on the Mission Critical website.