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Tough Challenges Loom for Storage Professionals

Senior-level technology managers who run data centers for the world's largest companies continue to face challenges in 2009 as the economy slides downhill -- they are expected to cut costs while providing better performance and improving server and storage utilization rates. Those were the key takeaways from a survey of high-level tech managers at 1,600 companies with 5,000 or more employees in 21 countries in a State of the Data Center report issued by Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC).

The survey was conducted in October and November, just as the weak economy was causing a reduction in technology spending plans at many companies. This year, Symantec decided to survey managers, directors, and senior-level executives, a different group of respondents than last year, so the results are not directly comparable. The median company reported having 500 people working in IT, some 30 to 49 data centers, and about one fifth of its IT staff dedicated to data center tasks.

"The results reflect what we are seeing in the market," said Sean Derrington, director of storage management and high availability at Symantec. "IT managers are being asked to cut costs and provide more services. They are having trouble finding and retaining staff. Server and storage utilization rates are declining. Disaster recovery plans continue to need work. And companies are looking at green initiatives as a way to reduce costs as well as improve the environment."

The average utilization rate for storage systems was reported to be 50 percent, down from 60 percent in the 2007 survey. That is causing companies to look at storage virtualization (76 percent), continuous data protection (72 percent), storage resource management (71 percent), replication (71 percent), data de-duplication (70 percent), and storage as a service (64). The main applications driving storage growth were business intelligence, Web applications, and enterprise applications.

"The median capacity was 200 TB of raw storage. When you look at 100 TB not being used, companies are throwing away 50 cents of every dollar they spend on storage. That's why they are looking at SRM to recover some of that unused storage and to make sure they fully utilize any new storage they buy," Derrington said.

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