Dynamic opportunity

The recent DatacenterDynamics event held in Dubai brought together a number of prominent vendors and end-users to discuss the latest infrastructure trends and developments.

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By  Sean Robson and Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  January 5, 2009

The recent DatacenterDynamics event held in Dubai brought together a number of prominent vendors and end-users to discuss the latest infrastructure trends and developments.

Datacentre vendors and users from across the region recently met in Dubai at the DatacenterDynamics convention to discuss the current landscape in datacentres, and predict how the market might play out.

The hot discussions of the day covered everything from increasing efficiency in the datacentre to the construction of tier four datacentres in the Middle East.

It is a case of bringing hardware and software together with services, and designing them to be managed proactively before energy consumption gets completely out of hand.

The event kicked off with a thought-provoking presentation by Kuldeep Bhatnagar, datacentre consultant and advisor at the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi, who offered a unique insight into the current state of the regional datacentre market and the future for hosted services and green IT in the middle of the current global recession.

"We are seeing both local and international players either reconsider or even cancel their plans to build major datacentres in the region. This is a natural reaction to the situation," commented Bhatnagar.

He pointed out that many enterprises simply could not either afford to build their own datacentres or did not possess the skills necessary to design and build one. This should, according to him, lead to the adoption of hosted datacentre services.

However, he added, the market is simply not ready for managed services and very few customers are looking to outsource their datacentres or to invest in fully managed services. Part of the reason for this is the lack of service availability. "People here set up small to medium-sized server rooms and then try to call them datacentres. In truth, I don't believe we have any quality offerings or even non-quality offerings in the region, when it comes to these hosted services," he said.

Bhatnagar suggested that the three regional verticals most likely to emerge as prospective clients for hosted datacentre services, namely government, finance and telcos, are all cash rich clients that will choose to build their own datacentres if not catered to very soon.

"The fact is that the market in the region is stilly fairly immature and we are in the third stage of what are five stages of maturity. This is the developing market stage, in which the third party datacentre market is supported by telcos with enterprises only starting to use such services," said Bhatnagar.

He went on to explain that by international standards the Middle East does not have even one true commercial datacentre. "Such a facility needs to be more than five thousand square metres in size for it to qualify, and currently there is no capacity in this region for a datacentre that size," Bhatnagar said.

This shortage is, according to Bhatnagar, partly as a result of the excessive cost of property which has seen increases of over 40% year on year over the last half decade. "It has not been a financially viable option for a facility to be purchased and fitted, but the financial situation and the drop in property price could change that," he suggested.

Datacentres are graded globally based on the amount of inbuilt redundancy they play host to. While regional enterprises have been building datacentres at a feverish pace over the past few years, almost none of them come close to the redundancy and availability of tier four level datacentres. According to Dr Yousif Asfour, client delivery executive of Injazat Data Systems, the company is working to rectify this with the construction of the region's first tier four datacentre.

While discussing Injazat's work on the datacentre, Asfour encouraged end-users in the audience to remember that datacentres are more a combination of people, processes and systems, than just a location.

"Get involved in the implementation and be prepared to make hard decisions during the design phase," said Asfour.

Power consumption and the move to green technologies was another prominent point of discussion with end-users emaphasising that greater efficiencies must be achieved.

"Energy efficiency is a growing concern with the cost of power and cooling rising. A combination of energy aware insight, optimisation and control is needed," said Stephen Worn, global conference chairman of DatacenterDynamics.

Worn suggested a number of options to improve efficiency in enterprise datacentres, and recommended that a complete portfolio of products, solutions and services be integrated in order to achieve optimisation.

"It's a case of bringing hardware and software together with the correct solutions and services, and designing them in order to manage them proactively before energy consumption gets completely out of hand," emphasised Worn.

Michael Nicolai, international director and product manager at Rittal also weighed in on the subject with his presentation, discussing at length the potential for major savings in the datacentre with particular focus on the areas of server operation, cooling and power distribution and back-up.

"There are a number of areas in which savings can be made and efficiency improved. We are all aware of elements like virtualisation and consolidation but the future will see automation and workload management become key drivers," Nicolai elaborated.

DatacenterDynamics is an annual event, which is conducted across the world including France, Germany, South Africa and the United States. The event held in Dubai gave many of the region's IT professionals, as well as datacentre vendors, an opportunity to discuss their concerns for the future as well as share experience and knowledge as a forum.

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