Datacentre data crunch

Inside the enterprise: Despite the move to cloud computing, businesses risk running out of datacentre space.


Businesses are running out of space for their data. The explosion in the amount of information being gathered, and stored, by businesses is set to stretch the capacity of data centres over the next few years, despite the growing move towards usings cloud-based services.

And "big data" is to blame, apparently. A report by Oracle cautions that that "many businesses seem to have been caught off guard by the boom in Big Data'", and have failed to prepare, by building adequate datacentre capacity.

Oracle sells datacentre kit these days. Since the company completed its deal to buy Sun Microsystems in 2010, the company has been selling servers and storage, as well as databases and middleware. But the company's Next Generation Data Centre Index is less self-serving than this might suggest.

Many businesses seem to have been caught off guard by the boom in big data.

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The study, in its second "cycle", was carried out for Oracle by industry analyst firm Quocirca, and covered close to 1,000 IT managers in 10 regions of Europe and the Middle East (the first "cycle" included the US, dropped this time around in favour of Ireland, and Russia). In the latest round of research, carried out in November, only France and the Middle East did not report an increase in demand for additional datacentre capacity.

The report which goes into considerable detail about the state of datacentre capacity, and planning, across Europe and the Middle East draws two intriguing, and one possibly worrying conclusions.

The intriguing, but perhaps unsurprising, conclusions are that most businesses now use at least some external datacentre capacity (56 per cent, against 40 per cent last Spring), and that sustainability is now back on the agenda. Some 52 per cent of data mangers now see the energy bill for their facilities, and only six per cent of companies do not have a sustainability plan.

The worrying figures are those that suggest firms will run out of datacentre capacity. In the "cycle 1" report, 27 per cent of companies believed they would need more data centre capacity. Now, the figure is 38 per cent. Just eight per cent of companies foresee no need for new capacity at all.

Oracle's conclusion, from this, is that companies are "buying" datacentre capacity now, rather than building for their future needs. That may be the case, but it underplays the importance of the cloud. The albeit anecdotal experience of IT directors is often that, once they have moved data or an IT process to the cloud, they see little reason to bring it back in house. The cost savings and flexibility delivered by a well-managed cloud service are simply too attractive.

The question is rather, if companies are being forced to outsource their data storage needs due to a lack of capacity, they are sourcing those well-managed services that will deliver sustainable cost reductions or simply buying whatever they can to plug the gap now.

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