Symantec Study Shows Mid-Sized Enterprises Lead in Adopting Leading-Edge Technologies

Top concerns: data center complexity, number of applications; disaster recovery plans need work

Symantec Corp.’s latest “State of the Data Center” study reveals that that the most likely organizations to adopt cutting-edge technologies to help them reduce IT costs and management their data center amid increasing complexity are mid-sized enterprises (those with 2,000 to 9,999 employees). From cloud computing and replication to deduplication and storage virtualization, mid-sized enterprises have the flexibility to quickly adopt such technologies. The study found that mid-size enterprise data centers are more active in these technologies and believe staffing and training are of higher importance than do those in small and large enterprise data centers.

In addition, “more IT managers [are] predicting major changes to the data center and new applications in 2010,” Symantec says. The study of 1,780 data center managers in 26 countries was conducted in November 2009.

“Although mid-sized enterprises tend to evaluate and adopt new technologies at a faster rate than larger organizations, they still face similar data center complexities that are compounded by adopting new initiatives,” said Deepak Mohan, senior vice president, Information Management Group at Symantec. “Standardizing on cross-platform solutions that can manage new technologies and automate processes will drive immediate cost reduction and make their jobs easier in the long run.”

Among the study highlights:

  • Mid-sized enterprises are more likely to be out in front -- be “more aggressive and pioneering” in Symantec’s words -- than others. “They are adopting new technology initiatives such as cloud computing, replication, and deduplication at 11-17 percent higher rates than small or large enterprises,” Symantec reports.

  • Data center managers are most concerned about increased complexity and the number (“too many”) of applications running. Most enterprises report having 10 or more data center initiatives that they rate as “somewhat or absolutely important.” Topping the list of initiatives: security (83 percent rate it as somewhat or absolutely important), backup and recovery (79 percent), and continuous data protection (76 percent).

  • Half of data center managers expect “significant” changes in their data centers this year. “Half of all enterprises say applications are growing somewhat/quickly and half are finding it difficult and costly to meet service level agreements (SLAs).” Symantec says that a third of enterprises of all sizes say the number of applications is hampering staff productivity.

  • The continued increase in data volumes has 71 percent of organizations considering data reduction technologies (including deduplication).

  • Having sufficient staff is critical; half of all enterprises say they are somewhat or extremely understaffed. Symantec says finding budget dollars and qualified applicants are the biggest recruiting challenges; over three-fourths (76 percent) of all enterprises have as many or more job openings this year as last year.

  • Disaster recovery responses indicate a contradiction. Eighty percent of respondents expressed confidence in their DR plan, yet one third say their plan is undocumented or needs work and one-third haven’t re-evaluated their DR plans in the last 12 months. Among aspects not currently covered in their plans: cloud computing initiatives (41 percent), remote offices (28 percent), and virtual servers (23 percent).

  • Virtual machine protection is a hot button: 82 percent of respondents say they are or will be considering virtual-machine technologies this year. The biggest challenge from the technology: granular recovery from virtual machine images.

Symantec’s report includes several recommendations, including adoption of software that supports heterogeneous environments. The company also suggests that “organizations should deploy deduplication closer to the information source to eliminate redundant data and reduce storage and network costs.” The firm says data center administrators “need to manage storage across heterogeneous server and storage environments in a way that enables them to stop buying storage by leveraging new technology adoption such as storage resource management, thin provisioning, deduplication, storage virtualization, and continuous data protection and recovery. Organizations leveraging a holistic approach to storage management can control storage budget growth and often postpone storage purchases.”

The report re-iterates the importance of disaster recovery testing, recommending that enterprises “should seek to improve the success of testing by evaluating and implementing testing methods which are non-disruptive.”

About the Author

James E. Powell is the former editorial director of Enterprise Strategies (esj.com).