Data center budgets rising despite economy, survey finds

Nearly 7% average budget increase fuels planned data center expansions

Despite a rough economy, large enterprises are boosting their data center budgets and planning expansions, one survey finds.

The IT industry has suffered its share of bad news in this economy, but one bright spot was revealed this week in a new survey of data center executives.

On average, data center budgets are increasing nearly 7% this year, according to an online survey of 300 senior-level IT decision makers at some of the largest North American companies. The respondents all work for companies with at least $1 billion in annual revenue and/or at least 5,000 employees.

More than four out of five companies surveyed are planning data center expansions in the next 12 to 24 months. Space requirements for these data centers are growing 16% year over year, to an average of 21,000 square feet in 2009.

“One finding that may surprise people is that companies are increasing their data center budgets in 2009. This is a reflection of how companies view their data centers as critical assets for increasing productivity while reducing costs,” Chris Crosby, a senior vice president at Digital Realty Trust, says in a press release. Digital Realty Trust, which offers a variety of data center products and services, conducted the survey in January.

The survey comes on the heels of a study by the AFCOM Data Center Institute, which found a bleaker picture. AFCOM said budget cuts are forcing IT shops to shed older, more experienced workers, and that many data centers are delaying or canceling planned physical expansions and relocations.

Specific findings from Digital Realty Trust include the following:

* 84% of surveyed companies are planning data center expansions in the next 12 to 24 months;

* 64% of companies that plan to expand in 2009 will do so in two or more locations;

* Surveyed companies plan to increase data center spending 6.6% in 2009; and

* Data centers account for 35% of the average IT budget in surveyed companies.

Digital Realty Trust also surveyed companies about PUE – or power usage effectiveness, a Green Grid-devised measure that compares the total power used in a facility with the power devoted specifically to IT equipment. A PUE of 2.0 would indicate that for every watt of power consumed by servers and other IT equipment, an additional watt is needed to cool and distribute power to these IT resources. A PUE of 3.0 indicates that two additional watts are needed to cool and distribute power.

A large majority of companies surveyed were measuring power usage. Four out of five reported PUE ratings of at least 2.0, and 26% reported PUE ratings of at least 3.0.

“Current facilities are not highly energy efficient,” the Digital Realty Trust concluded.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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