Symantec released last month the results of its second annual State of the Data Centre report conducted by Applied Research. Paul Lancaster, Symantec’s Director of System Engineering for ANZ and the Pacific Islands, said that while a lot had changed since last year’s survey, surprisingly data centre managers admitted that some of the same areas are still in need of improvement. These include disaster recovery and virtualisation in particular, with some organisations even needing to go back to the drawing board for their disaster recovery strategies.The global study, conducted over September and October 2008, targeted 1600 data centre managers in 21 countries, including 30 respondents from Australia and New Zealand. Lancaster said one of the bigger surprises in the results was the heightened need to reduce costs, this being the most frequently mentioned goal by far. Indeed, this goal had twice as many mentions as the next two most popular objectives combined: improving service levels and improving responsiveness. This, coupled with 75% of the data centre managers surveyed noting that user expectations are rising, made the need to balance service level requirements with cost reduction of primary importance in the report. For resellers, these struggles present opportunity and Lancaster said they are “in a great position; number one for that consulting position”. Underutilisation of servers and storage, problems surrounding disaster recovery and the adoption of green IT all featured in the report. Lancaster explained that given there are a lot more initiatives going on around servers, storage, virtualisation and even just data protection these days, “having the ability to leverage their [resellers’] wares and IP to customers around that, may add value to what they are doing”. One way of doing this is the increasingly popular provision of business as a service. Staffing also remained a big issue in 2008, with 43% of data centre managers admitting that finding qualified applicants was a big or huge problem. Lancaster suggested this was one area where the channel and other key players can really add assistance by building IP within a data centre through education on products and tools. Resellers should be aiming to be “the advisor rather than the dealer”, he stated. The data centre is changing in some major ways, with a lot more companies looking at exploring different areas of their data centre as a service. This means that they are interested in solutions such as replication, continuous data protection and de-duplication technology, which were not as prominent in the previous report, creating new areas of opportunity for the savvy reseller.