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Where Malaysia stands on the path to smarter data centres: IDC

AvantiKumar | Aug. 8, 2012
IDC's Simon Piff draws out pointers for Malaysian data centre managers from the new IBM-commissioned IDC ASEAN Data Centre Survey, which reveals that nine out of 10 data centres in the region fall short on running efficiently.

IDC, IBM media roundtable in KL

PHOTOS - (from left) Simon Piff, associate vice president, enterprise infrastructure, IDC Asia/Pacific; and Andrew Ang, data centre services lead, global technology services, IBM ASEAN.

Nine out of 10 ASEAN companies fall short on data centre operational efficiencies, while Malaysian data centres in general industry sectors are at a basic rather than a strategic level of maturity. This is according to analyst firm IDC's July survey on ASEAN data centre customers of technology giant IBM.

Only about 30 percent of ASEAN organisations surveyed were using any of the storage optimisation technologies now available, while almost 26 percent do not use any form of storage optimisation technologies (such as de-duplication, thin provisioning, and storage virtualisation) at all, shows the ASEAN Data Centre Operational Efficiency Best Practices (July 2012) study. Simon Piff, IDC Asia/Pacific associate vice president, enterprise infrastructure, said this during a media roundtable on 2 August 2012.

Piff said today's data centre is 'the nerve centre' of any IT organisation, providing critical applications and services for the business to operate and compete efficiently. "However, data centres are undergoing some radical changes in architecture and design, which when leveraged effectively, can provide improved efficiency and performance."

"We must bear in mind that there are  four pillars that are converging and impacting the ICT industry: cloud is delivering productivity gains; mobile computing is changing the competitive landscape through new markets; social media is leading the consumerisation of IT; and big data is creating customer intimacy through data governance & analytics," he said.

"The goal of the joint survey with IBM of 180 organisations with US$50+ million revenues in ASEAN (including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) was to capture some of the best data centre practices that produce efficiencies regardless of size or scale, and rate them on a maturity scale," said Piff, adding that about 30 of the respondent organisations were in Malaysia.

"The 65 question survey looked at key measurements of efficiency including facility operations and management, systems, storage, network, applications, businesses drivers, budget and governance," he said. He added that in common with a similar study [January 2012 survey of 308 respondents in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India and the United States], and in order to study general verticals, no respondents were considered from the following verticals: aerospace, automotive, telecommunications, DC/ hosting, energy/utilities, healthcare and media, as these would already be in the 'Mature' position.

 Four maturity levels

"The maturity levels (Basic, Consolidated, Available, and Strategic) in this study are based upon global best practices as defined jointly by IDC and IBM," Piff said. "The levels are designed to be relevant, regardless of scale of IT infrastructure. However, all responses relate to the largest site of the responding organisations. Ten percent of organsiations in the survey have reached the 'Strategic' level of maturity."

He emphasised that the 'maturity level' of an organisation did not denote any negatives and merely served to provide a directional path. "There are four distinguishing characteristics of companies that were operating at the highest levels of efficiency within the region," said Piff. These are:

1. To optimise the server, storage, network and facility assets to maximise capacity and availability.
2. Design for flexibility to support changing business needs.
3. Use automation tools to improve service levels and availability.
4. Have a plan that aligns with the business goals and keep it current.

"While the 'right solution cannot be dictated by a single, standardised blueprint, and reaching the Strategic (highest level of data efficiency) stage may not align with the goals of all organisations, many IT professionals are looking for something analogous to a playbook that provides context for designing an appropriate strategy," he said. 

IBM ASEAN leader, data centre services, global technology services, Andrew Ang, said IT organisations could progress along the path of data transformation to the 'smart data centre.' "For every dollar of IT budget, about 70 cents goes to just maintaining existing infrastructure rather than new innovative projects."

"And as IT budgets have flatlined or grown only slightly, good design is an insurance policy for data centre managers as this provides flexibility and agility with which to meet new business demands," said Ang, adding that 60 percent of CIOs in a recent IBM study said they viewed cloud computing as critical to their plans. "As an example, clients could save up to 50 percent of storage architects' time and 10-20 percent of the most expensive storage costs by using policy management and storage service catalogues."

 Malaysian data centre strengths

IDC's Piff said: "Though all Malaysian respondents in the study are at Basic level, this means local data centres have a huge opportunity to drive even greater returns to the business by adopting more automation solutions."

"Current strengths of the Malaysian data centre lie in facilities management, data centre operations, networks governance, servers and tools," he said. "However, with the lack of automation, many processes are still manual and the maintenance aspects take up much of the role of personnel."

"Like many Asian countries, Malaysian culture tends to favour ownership of assets, so the concept of hybrid clouds, cloud bursting and outsourcing of staff and processes is taken very cautiously," said Piff. "However, as the level of understanding and mindset rises, I would also expect that the notion of internal IT staff needing to manage only strategic and business-critical IT processes will also increase."

"Malaysian CIOs, like their global counterparts, need to focus on ways to manifest faster access to information, especially with the adoption of big data analytics," he said. "It's always about delivering efficiency. Looking further along the maturity road, as an example, 'Strategic' data centres have almost three times as many servers managed by a single person compared to the least efficient data centre."


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