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Archive for May 2010

The ongoing buzz surrounding cloud computing – particularly public clouds – is far outpacing actual deployments by mainstream users. To date only 14% of companies have deployed or plan to deploy a private cloud infrastructure within the next two calendar quarters.
Instead, as businesses slowly recover from the ongoing economic downturn, their most immediate priorities are to upgrades to legacy desktop and server hardware, outmoded applications and to expand their virtualization deployments. Those are the results of the latest ITIC 2010 Virtualization and High Availability survey which polled C-level executives and IT managers at 400 organizations worldwide.
ITIC partnered with Stratus Technologies and Sunbelt Software to conduct the Web-based survey of multiple choice questions and essay comments. ITIC also conducted first person interviews with over two dozen end to obtain anecdotal responses on the primary accelerators or impediments to virtualization, high availability and reliability, cloud computing. The survey also queried customers on whether or not their current network infrastructure and mission critical applications were adequate enough to handle new technologies and the increasing demands of the business.
The survey showed that for now at least, although, many midsized and large enterprises are contemplating a move to the cloud – especially a private cloud infrastructure – the technology and business model is still not essential for most businesses. Some 48% of survey participants said they have no plans to migrate to private cloud architecture within the next 12 months while another 33% said their companies are studying the issue but have no firm plans to deploy.

The study also indicates that Private Cloud deployments are outpacing Public Cloud Infrastructure deployments by a 2 to 1 margin. However before businesses can begin to consider a private cloud deployment they must first upgrade the “building block” components of their existing environments e.g., server and desktop hardware, WAN infrastructure; storage, security and applications. Only 11% of businesses described their server and desktop hardware as leading edge or state-of-the-art. And just 8% of respondents characterized their desktop and application environment as leading edge.

The largest proportion of the survey participants – 52% – described their desktop and server hardware working well, while 48% said their applications were up-to-date. However, 34% acknowledged that some of their server hardware needed to be updated. A higher percentage of users 41% admitted that their mission critical software applications were due to be refreshed. And a small 3% minority said that a significant portion of both their hardware and mission critical applications were outmoded and adversely impacting the performance and reliability of their networks.

Based on the survey data and customer interviews, ITIC anticipates that from now until October, companies’ primary focus will be on infrastructure improvements.

Reliability and Uptime Lag

The biggest surprise in this survey from the 2009 High Availability and Fault Tolerant survey, which ITIC & Stratus conducted nearly one year ago, was the decline in the number of survey participants who said their organizations required 99.99% uptime and reliability. In this latest survey, the largest portion of respondents – 38% — or nearly 4 out of 10 businesses said that 99.9% uptime — the equivalent of 8.76 hours of per server, per annum downtime was the minimum acceptable amount for their mission critical line of business (LOB) applications. This is more than three times the 12% of respondents who said that 99.9% uptime was acceptable in the prior 2009 survey. Overall, 62% or nearly two-thirds of survey participants indicated their organizations are willing to live with higher levels of downtime than were considered acceptable in previous years.
Some 39% of survey respondents – almost 4 out of 10 respondents indicated that their organizations demand high availability which ITIC defines as four nines of uptime or greater. Specifically, 27% said their organizations require 99.99% uptime; another 6% need 99.999% uptime and a 3% minority require the highest 99.999% level of availability.
The customer interviews found that the ongoing economic downturn, aged/aging network infrastructures (server and desktop hardware and older applications), layoffs, hiring freezes and the new standard operating procedure (SOP) “do more with less” has made 99.9% uptime more palatable than in previous years.
Those firms that do not keep track of the number and severity of their outages have no way of gauging the financial and data losses to the business. Even a cursory comparison indicates substantial cost disparities between 99% uptime and 99.99% uptime. The monetary costs, business impact and risks associated with downtime will vary by company as well as the duration and severity of individual outage incidents. However a small or midsize business, for example, which estimates the hourly cost of downtime to be a very conservative $10,000 per hour, would potentially incur losses of $876,000 per year at a data center with 99% application availability (87 hours downtime). By contrast, a company whose data center operations has 99.99% uptime, would incur losses of $87,600 or one-tenth that of a firm with conventional 99% availability.
Ironically, the need for rock-solid network reliability has never been greater. The rise of Web-based applications and new technologies like virtualization and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), as well as the emergence of public or shared cloud computing models are designed to maximize productivity. But without the proper safeguards these new datacenter paradigms may raise the risk of downtime. The Association for Computer Operations Management/ Data Center Institute (AFCOM) forecasts that one-in-four data centers will experience a serious business disruption over the next five years.
At the same time, customer interviews revealed that over half of all businesses 56% lack the budget for high availability technology. Another ongoing challenge is that 78% of survey participants acknowledged that their companies either lack the skills or simply do not attempt to quantify the monetary and business costs associated with hourly downtime. The reasons for this are well documented. Some organizations don’t routinely do this and those that attempt to calculate costs and damages run into difficulties collecting data because the data resides with many individuals across the enterprise. Inter-departmental communication, cooperation and collaboration is sorely lacking at many firms. Only 22% of survey respondents were able assign a specific cost to one hour of downtime and most of them gave conservative estimates of $1,000 to $25,000 for a one hour network outage. Only 13% of the 22% of survey participants who were able to quantify the cost of downtime indicated that their hourly losses would top $175,000 or more.

Users Confident and Committed to Virtualization Technology
The news was more upbeat with respect to virtualization – especially server virtualization deployments. Organizations are both confident and comfortable with virtualization technology.
72% of respondents indicated the number of desktop and server-based applications demanding high availability has increased over the past two years. The survey also found that a 77% majority of participants run business critical applications on virtual machines. Not surprisingly, the survey data showed that virtualization usage will continue to expand over the next 12 months. A 79% majority – approximately eight-out-of-10 respondents — said the number of business critical applications running on virtual machines and virtual desktops will increase significantly over the next year. Server virtualization is very much a mainstream and accepted technology. The responses to this question indicate increased adoption as well as confidence. Nearly one-quarter of the respondents – 24% say that more than 75% of their production servers are VMs. Overall 44% of respondents say than over 50% of their servers are VMs. However, none of the survey participants indicate that 100% of their servers are virtualized. Additionally, only 6% of survey resp