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Data center operators are in the midst of 'perfect storm'

09 Aug 2018

The Uptime Institute’s eighth annual Data Center Survey has found that operators are making headway into lowering energy waste, but they are also facing new challenges ahead.

The global survey is the industry’s most comprehensive look at the industry and includes responses from almost 900 data center operators and IT practitioners from 90 countries.

This year, operators have mostly succeeded in lowering energy waste. The industry’s average PUE was 1.58, although year-to-year improvements are decreasing. However, the rate and severity of outages has increased in the space of just one year.

According to Uptime Institute executive director of research Andy Lawrence, the magnitude of change is akin to a ‘perfect storm’ as operators deal with technology, organizational, and management complexity.

“Today, operators are grappling with new challenges, including increased complexity and high interdependency of systems and data centers,” Lawrence explains.

Many survey respondents struggle to assess the business case and effectiveness of their hybrid IT architectures (defined as any mix of on-premises data center capacity and off-premises resources such as colocation, cloud, hosting and XaaS).

Only about half are confident they understand the true costs and risk/performance tradeoffs of their chosen approach, the Uptime Institute claims.

Sixty-one percent of respondents say that workloads spread across on-site, colocation, and cloud deployments have made their overall IT more resilient, but this is not supported by evidence, the Uptime Institute claims.

The number of respondents that experienced an IT downtime incident or severe service degradation in the past year (31%) increased over 2017's survey (by about 25%).

Leading causes of downtime include human error, network failure, configuration errors, power outages, and third-party provider outages.

In the past three years, 48% of the 2018 survey respondents had an outage in their own site or service provider. More than 80% of respondents say their outages were preventable.

“Looking ahead, many are expecting to deploy significant new hybrid and edge computing capacity, which will support new services, but will add an additional layer of complexity in doing so," Lawrence says.

Lawrence believes that edge computing is ‘exciting’ because of the performance and scale benefits it can bring to technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and autonomous driving applications.

 We expect to see substantial growth in the edge over the next few years. Edge has the ability to keep building upon each set of application improvements and the advances of previous versions, which will cause rapid improvement in capability development and implementation,” Lawrence concludes.

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