Outsourcing is a critical option for many users of data center services according to the Data Center Industry Census 2011. Global market investment is set to rise to $8 billion in 2012, with a substantial proportion of racks being outsourced in every market sample surveyed according to a new report “Technology Cycles and Cloud,” available for free download at www.datacenterdyanmics.com/research.

In quantitative terms, the sample indicates the USA is the largest market with 210,000 racks outsourced either to third party suppliers or to other offices. However, there is enormous variation in the proportion of outsourced racks from region to region; from as little as 3 percent in the Middle East, to as much as 28 percent in China and 30 percent in India. Nick Parfitt, a researcher at DatacenterDynamics said, “It is evident that outsourcing fulfils different roles in the evolution of markets; as an entry point for organisations which have not yet evolved the capacity requirement to operate their own environments, or as an exit point in developed markets where the pace of increased IT requirements has exceeded in-house capacity.”

As far as Cloud services are concerned, interest in Public cloud is broadly similar across markets at different stages of development, with Cloud infrastructure and Private cloud being the preferred options in order of importance. However, the research indicates that neither variants of Private cloud are likely to replace other outsourcing options any time in the near future and that the technology is being considered as part of a portfolio approach to managing outsourced services.

The research findings suggest that Cloud options will be far more commonly developed as part of existing infrastructure, either in-house by client companies or on dedicated infrastructure by service providers. This is driven by the perception of the vulnerability of Public cloud to security threats and legal issues. Interest in the uptake of Private cloud variants rises with the level of market evolution, although major growth markets such as China and Brazil are interested in all options which reduce resource costs.

The Technology Cycles and Cloud report is based upon the responses of 3,800 data center owners and customers gathered and analysed by DatacenterDynamics. It reveals that up to a point, much of the infrastructure essential for normal day-to-day operations is on a shopping list for major upgrade on cycles of two to four years. Adoption and consideration of new technologies is also broadly in line with the state of development of data center markets; the more “advanced” the market, the more likely it is that owners and operators are focussed on areas like the efficiency and management of their facilities. Technology areas which stand apart from “staple requirements” and “special requirements” for include two variants of Cloud (Private cloud and Cloud infrastructure), together with Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software, data center automation, modular design principles and the upgrade of systems management.

“The implementation of modular design principles and automated operations is squarely aimed at eliminating the hazard of human intervention and therefore human error within data centers; it is perceived to be a matter of good risk management practice,” said Nick Parfitt, researcher at DatacenterDynamics. “The Census has highlighted concerns about skills shortages across all markets, and these tend to be more acute in regions where more aggressive growth is being experienced.”

The market for DCIM software has been highlighted as showing high growth potential in other surveys. In more developed markets, rising interest reflects concerns over energy costs and environmental degradation as well as the need to for a faster and automated response to emerging operating issues in complex, high density and virtualised server environments.