Danny Milrad, director of product marketing at Symantec Corp. (www.symantec.com), says:

Juggling four oranges is hard. And juggling four oranges, two bowling pins, a chainsaw and a live snake is even harder. The more complex a task, the more difficult it can be. And IT today is becoming more and more complex, according to a recent survey conducted by Symantec on the state of the data center. And this complexity is having significant effects on the business.

Increasing Data Center Complexity, and Its Effects

IT staff were asked to rate the complexity of different areas of the data center, on a scale of 1 to 10, and every area rated at least 6.56. Security was the highest rating, at 7.06, and other complex aspects of IT were infrastructure, disaster recovery, storage and compliance. As for what is driving this complexity, the survey revealed several current trends in IT that are having a large impact. The largest cause cited by respondents was an increasing number of business-critical applications. Considering all the new technologies being integrated into today’s businesses, this is not surprising. Mobility is another significant driver of data center complexity, as IT works to support smartphones and tablets; this was identified by 44 percent of respondents. 

Other responses were virtualization (43 percent) and public cloud deployment (41 percent).

As a result of these factors, businesses have found themselves facing several challenges. Foremost among these are rising costs, according to nearly half of businesses surveyed. They also reported reduced agility, longer lead times for storage provisioning, and security breaches and downtime. The costs of downtime alone are an average of $5.1 million per year, with 16 data center outages occurring within the last year.

Businesses Are Combating this Complexity

Organizations are not standing idly by and allowing this complexity to overwhelm them, however. They are fighting back, working to increase efforts in training, standardization, centralization and virtualization. To accomplish these goals, they are also increasing their budgets. This only combats part of the problem, however. The majority of businesses – nine in ten – are considering information governance programs, to address the enormous increase in data businesses are creating and storing. This will also improve their ability to respond to legal issues. They are also hoping an information governance program will improve their security (according to three-quarters of organizations), while two-thirds also hope to keep information management and storage costs lower.

Best Practices for Reducing Complexity

In order to help today’s organizations minimize the effects of complexity, Symantec developed the following recommendation.

  •  Institute an information governance program, with support from senior management.
  • Reduce the current glut of backup solutions, often operating in silos, by adopting more comprehensive tools. 
  • Take steps to gain better visibility into current IT assets. This should include understanding how they are used, and by whom. Developing a culture of responsibility can lead to more efficient use of resource. 
  • Consider implementing appliances to keep the backup/recovery process as simple and user-friendly as possible. 
  • As part of your information governance plan, integrate deduplication into the data center, to rein in backup costs.

While a certain amount of complexity is inevitable in IT today as new technologies come online, it’s time for businesses to begin planning ways to streamline their infrastructure and processes. An intelligent information governance plan combined with the right tools can help IT juggle its priorities and remain productive in today’s complex world.