Five Things I Learned At Data Centre World

Our ongoing World Of Servers adventure hit London last week for the Data Centre World conference. Here are five key lessons I absorbed from that event.

1. Budgets are tight

Data centres might be the essential plumbing for the sexy new world of cloud computing, but that doesn't mean they get a pass when it comes to tight spending restrictions. Recent research by Gartner suggests that data centre managers are still stuck with the "do more with less" mantra that defines most IT projects. Your best bets for keeping costs down? Avoid new hires and consider hybrid solutions.

2. People are your biggest security risk

Cloud centralisation presents new security challenges, since large amounts of data are stored in systems which you may not be able to completely control. However, the biggest threats remain not the centres themselves, but the ease with which end users can be tricked into handing over passwords and other sensitive information, As ethical hacker Peter Wood explained, training is the key: "Invest time and money into getting staff to understand why these attacks take place, that they are real, and how to resist them."

3. You have to do everything well

While data centre operations can seem overwhelming, you need to consider every element of the operation rather than just concentrating on individual improvements. IDC analyst Donna Taylor pointed out: "Top-performing data centre managers do everything very well. They don't cherry pick the low-hanging fruit, do great at that and hope to phase in the other areas. They focus on everything."

4. Data centre metrics vary by size

One common mistake with data centre design is assuming that the same metrics will apply to every rollout. Cost per application, revenue per server and revenue per kilowatt are all valid measurements: it depends on what you're trying to do.

5. IT pros are like doctors

It's a neat analogy: where once IT experts were jack-of-all-trades experts in the manner of a GP, increasingly we're forced to specialise. One upside: we're unlikely to hear a message on a plane saying "If there's an IT pro on board, please make yourself known to the cabin crew."

Next up on the World Of Servers agenda: Gartner's IT Infrastructure Operations & Data Center Summit in Sydney on 19-20 March. We'll be bringing you all the key insights from that event, including a live blog of the keynote. Don't miss it!

Lifehacker's World Of Servers sees me travelling to conferences around Australia and around the globe in search of fresh insights into how server and infrastructure deployment is changing in the cloud era. Last week, I was in London for Data Centre World, paying particular attention to how to maximise efficiency and lower costs in the data centre.


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