March 31, 2011 – A large percentage of data centers around the world are not prepared to deal with cyber criminals or natural disasters, according to a status report released by AFCOM, a data center association.

Two thirds of all data centers have no plan or procedure in place to deal with cyber crime, AFCOM said in a status report called “The State of the Data Center” based on a survey of 358 data center managers from around the world.

More than 15 percent of the 358 data center managers said they have no plan in place for data backup and recovery, in the case of a power outage or natural disaster. In addition, 50 percent have no plan to replace damaged equipment after a disaster.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that nation's highest electronic intelligence service, the National Security Agency, has joined a probe of the October cyber attack on Nasdaq OMX Group amid evidence the intrusion by hackers was more severe than first disclosed.

AFCOM said the survey is intended to reveal how data centers are adapting "to the most critical challenges, technologies and economic factors,'' including physical and logical security.

“When it comes to disaster recovery, the survey results are indicative of the investment activity we have seen in data centers throughout the recession — focus on immediate needs with business continuity and disaster recovery planning considered a luxury,” said Richard Sawyer, Worldwide Practice Leader, Critical Facilities Assurance at HP Critical Facility Services, and member of the Data Center Institute Board of Directors. “But now, with the regional disasters in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, and the turmoil in the Middle East, we are reminded it is a management necessity to be prepared for anything.”

Other key findings:

  • Cloud computing increasing. Last year, only 14.9 percent of all data centers had implemented the technology. Today, that percentage has grown to 36.6 percent, with another 35.1 percent seriously considering it. AFCOM believes that cloud computing will continue on this trajectory for the next five years, with 80 to 90 percent of all data centers adopting some form of the cloud during that period.
  • Mainframes usage declining. While historically one of the most critical elements of any data center, today, mainframe usage continues to shrink. While AFCOM predicts mainframes will exist forever in some capacity, their prevalence has been severely diminished.
  • Web applications proliferate. In AFCOM’s survey, 86.6 percent of all respondents reported an increase in the number of web applications they are running today as compared to just three years ago.
  • Floor space up. Even in a down economy, data centers have been expanding in size with 44.2 percent occupying more floor space that they did three years ago. Another 49.4 percent are currently in the process of expanding or are planning to in the near future. Only 16.4 percent have downsized.
  • Green is good. While only 3.9 percent of respondents have implemented solar power in their data center, AFCOM feels this represents a trend towards integrating renewable energy as part of making more sustainable and energy efficient data centers. While the industry is certainly concerned with the environment, they look to greening as a great way to save substantial money now and even more as time goes on.
  • Biometrics popular. Security is always a top concern for data centers, but AFCOM’s survey found the growing use of biometric screening for authorization and access has grown, with a surprising 25 percent of facilities installing the technology to better protect their data centers.

This story originally appeared on Securities Technology Monitor.


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