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IBM Global Data Center Study

Research Report

Data center operational efficiency best practices

Enabling increased new project spending by improving data center efficiency

Findings from the IBM Global Data Center Study


Data center operational efficiency best practices

Data center operational efficiency best practices: Enabling increased new project spending by improving data center efficiency is an IBM study that developed a data center operational efficiency model for assessing the capability levels of todays data center and describes the ways IT organizations can progress along the path of data center transformation. The report was written by IDC, which also executed the survey and interviews on behalf of IBM. The authors would like to give special thanks to the following individuals for their assistance and support in developing this report:

Dr. Ian Stewart, Director of Advanced Computing, University of Bristol Antonio Buratti, CIO, ABI (Associazione Bancaria Italiana) Pierre Debagnard, General Manager of Albiant-IT, BPCE Group Xiao Xiao Bin, IT Manager, INESA Information Solution Group Co. Ltd Martin Constant, Corporate Director of Information Technology, NORAMPAC

IBM Global Data Center Study


Executive Summary
Todays data center is changing rapidly. Many enterprises are integrating new technology solutions to modernize and evolve their organizations. Most are pursuing a path to ensure appropriate levels of IT service delivery and cost efficiency and alignment to business goals. For some data centers this means providing state of the art levels of availability, flexibility, and scalability, while for others the goal may be to provide sufficient levels of services while keeping new capital expenditures to a minimum. Either way, data centers can be placed on a spectrum of efficiency and flexibility. IBM and IDC have developed a data center operational efficiency model for assessing the capability levels of todays data center and describing the ways IT organizations can progress along the path of data center transformation. There are four key stages that describe the typical evolution of a data center as it relates to efficiency: Basic, Consolidated, Available and Strategic.
New projects 35%

Basic data centers

Maintaining existing infrastructure 65%

Strategic data centers

New projects 53% Maintaining existing infrastructure 47%

Data centers that are operating at the highest level of efficiency allocate 50 percent more of their IT resources to new projects.

Figure 1: Data centers that operate at the highest level of efficiency allocate

50 percent more of their IT budgets to new projects than those operating at the lowest efficiency level.

Applying the results of a January 2012 global study of CIOs and IT managers to the efficiency model, 21 percent of todays data centersabout one in fivehave reached the peak of efficiency and are operating at the highest level.


Data center operational efficiency best practices

Improving data center efficiency can yield tangible benefits to the organization. This study found that Strategic data centers were able to deliver: Greater investment on strategic initiatives. Staff spend more than half of their time on new projects versus maintaining the infrastructure, compared to only 35 percent for Basic data centers (Figure 1). Further, 39 percent are planning transformational projects to reengineer their IT service delivery as compared to 23 percent. Greater efficiency. They enjoy more than 2.5 times the staffing efficiency, averaging 27 servers per administrator compared to 10 for Basic data centers. Greater flexibility. More than half of the companies support a high rate of organizational change compared to just 6 percent for Basic data centers.

While the right solution cannot be dictated by a single, standardized blueprint, and reaching the Strategic efficiency level may not align with the goals of all organizations, many IT professionals are looking for something analogous to a playbook that provides context for designing an appropriate strategy.

There were four distinguishing characteristics of companies that have moved toward a more strategic approach: Optimize the server, storage, network and facilities assets to maximize capacity and availability Design for flexibility to support changing business needs Use automation tools to improve service levels and availability Have a plan that aligns with the business goals and keep it current.

About this study The information for this paper came from a global survey of 308 IT executives in seven countries to understand the current state of their data center operational efficiencyprocesses, tools, and technologiesacross eight separate areas: data center operations, facilities management, servers, storage, network, applications and tools, governance and staffing. The survey was supplemented by in-depth interviews with IT managers and CIOs from North America, Europe and Asia. For additional study details, see Study Methodology.

IBM Global Data Center Study

1 Defining the state of the data center 3 Distinguishing characteristics of a Strategic data center 8 Recommended investments to improve your data center operational efficiency 11 Moving up the efficiency ladder: Case studies 14 Moving toward a Strategic data center 14 How IBM can help 15 Study methodology

Emerging from the survey responses were four distinctive stages that differentiate data centers from one another as IT organizations move toward business alignment (Figure 2). Each stage characterizes the data center based on a combination of efficiency, availability and flexibility. Basic: The environment is relatively stable and is maintained based on short-term objectives, with standalone infrastructure as the norm. Companies gain the advantages of server consolidation but have not implemented tools to improve availability levels, which vary widely from application to application and site to site. Consolidated: Server virtualization and site consolidation are used to take out sizeable numbers of systems and facilities and thereby lower capital costs. Server and storage technologies are well utilized and the possibilities for improving availability through virtual machine (VM) mobility are beginning to be realized. Available: IT infrastructure is treated as a general resource pool that can be allocated and scaled freely to meet the changing demands of workloads and to ensure uptime and performance while providing high rates of utilization. The focus is on measuring and improving service levels while building out governance procedures that capture business requirements. Strategic: Widespread adoption of policy-based automation tools lowers the manual complexity of the data center and ensures availability requirements and dynamic movement of applications and data. Instrumentation and metrics are consistently used to validate compliance with governance polices.

Defining the state of the data center

There are two critical concepts to keep in mind when evaluating the state of data center efficiency and alignment with the needs of the business. First, there is no single magic bullet indicator of movement from one efficiency stage to the next. The data center environment is a compilation of servers, storage, network systems, mechanical/electrical systems, applications and tools, governance procedures and staff. The only effective means to measure the efficiency of data center operations is to take a holistic approach that considers multiple measures across all elements. Second, the evolution of the data center is a journey, one in which the destination may change as the business needs change. This framework should therefore not be considered a recipe that should be followed blindly, but rather a playbook that should be flexibly applied based on the individual needs of the organization.

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Data center operational efficiency best practices

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Full 60%+ 8+ 80-90% eDiscovery data mapping Seconds


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Over 100 60%+

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Figure 2: The four distinctive stages of data center maturity are based on a combination of efficiency, availability and f lexibility.

Highly efficient

IBM Global Data Center Study

When taking a more strategic approach to data center operations, IT organizations put the needs of the end user at the center of their strategy. As data centers move up the efficiency scale, many have already taken out a significant portion of hard cost via consolidation and virtualization, and the real focus is on providing business benefits. These include not only application availability and performance but, even more important, the ability to respond rapidly to business changes. This focus on business outcomes can result in huge payoff for organizations where revenue generation, innovation or competitive advantage is the goal; in comparison, efficiency and cost containment are typically foundational elements. Globally, the distribution of data centers follows a bell curve with 21 percent, or about 1 in 5 data centers, operating at the highest Strategic level of optimization, with more than half moving into differing stages of Consolidated and Available environments.

Distinguishing characteristics of a Strategic data center

With almost 60 percent of the respondents indicating plans to upgrade their data centers in the next two years and 68 percent indicating rapid technology adoption, it is useful to understand the key differences that characterize Strategic data centers. Not all organizations have environments that require data centers built to support high rates of change, and some may never require the near-real time flexibility and always on availability typified by the Strategic level. However, for those that do require these capabilities, this framework provides a roadmap for thinking about the future data center and underscores how companies can build an infrastructure that prioritizes availability and flexibility as well as cost containment. Companies that operate a Strategic data center consistently: Optimize the server, storage, network and facilities assets to maximize capacity and availability Design for flexibility to support changing business needs Use automation tools to improve service levels and availability Have a plan that aligns with the business goals and keep it current.

Data center operational efficiency best practices

Moving beyond consolidation to high levels of optimization

Consolidation through virtualization is a necessary first step in the path to achieving data center efficiency. Most IT organizations initially introduce consolidation into the data center at the server level to cut costs by reducing redundancy in physical servers. This is often followed by virtualization in storage and networking environments, usually driven by a similar goal of consolidation to streamline and reduce expenditures on physical infrastructure. Virtualization is table stakes for data center capability, and in fact by the time data centers reach the Strategic phase they have high levels of virtualization across their servers, storage, and network environments and are advanced in the use of software and automation tools. Leaders achieve significantly higher staff productivity by managing 8.2 virtual machines (VMs) per server, compared to 4.5 VMs per server for Basic data centers. Key asset optimization characteristics of Strategic data centers compared to Basic data centers include (Figure 3): 48 percent of all their servers are virtualized, compared to 27 percent 93 percent use virtualized storage, versus 21 percent 92 percent use deduplication technologies, compared to 14 percent.





21% 14%

Percent of servers virtualized

Use storage virtualization

Use data deduplication



Figure 3: Strategic data centers are characterized by virtualization across all

components of the physical infrastructure.

IBM Global Data Center Study

Designing for flexibility to meet changing business needs

Change is accelerating, putting pressure on infrastructures to keep pace. Almost 90 percent of executives operating Strategic data centers indicate they are the first to adopt or among the first to adopt new technology. Having a plan that is designed to be flexible to respond to the ever changing needs of the business and technology is critical. Flexibility also means having the right level of availability and redundancy to ensure meeting the service-level agreements (SLAs). Availability and redundancy characteristics of Strategic data centers as compared to Basic data centers include (Figure 4): 47 percent can upgrade mechanical and electrical equipment without disruption to operations, compared to 9 percent 90 percent have active-active configurations for their primary data center, versus 21 percent 100 percent have a backup or secondary site for disaster recoveryover half of which are hot sitescompared to 15 percent 46 percent take a sophisticated approach to storage backup including synchronous replication, geo-replication or consistency groups for multiple snapshots, compared to 8 percent 45 percent have a network design that flexibly supports new services, compared to 31 percent.




45% 31%

21% 9% 8%

Upgrade Primary data mechanical/ center replicated electrical equipment with active-active without disruption Strategic

Replication used for storage backup

Network design flexibly supports new services


Figure 4: Strategic data centers are designed with the right level of availability
and redundancy for meeting business needs.

Data center operational efficiency best practices

Employing automation tools to improve service levels and availability

Automation is typically the next step in the data center journey. Introducing higher levels of automation enables greater levels of flexibility and helps support even higher levels of availability. Greater reliance on automation tools and technologies offloads manually intensive tasks for system administrators, reduces error rates and ensures the performance of applications against their SLAs. Management characteristics of Strategic data centers compared to Basic data centers include (Figure 5): For server management: 81 percent move VMs across physical hardware, compared to 27 percent, enabling much higher levels of flexibility and availability 100 percent use automation tools to manage their virtual server environmentand 58 percent use automation tools to move VMs automatically based on service level agreements (SLAs), without the need of manual interventionversus 1 percent 32 percent offer a self-service portal that enables cloud-like capabilities, versus 4 percent, and another 48 percent plan to offer one in the next 12 monthsmeaning 80 percent expect to offer one by 2013. For storage management: 85 percent have automated tiered storage, versus 12 percent 87 percent use a service catalog approach for storage, leading to higher levels of availability and automation, versus only 3 percent.





Move VMs to meet SLAs

Implemented a storage service catalog Strategic

Network services automatically provisioned Basic

Monitor thermal conditions

Figure 5: Extensive use of automation across server, storage and network

management enables the high level of availability and service levels that characterize Strategic data centers.

For facilities management: 31 percent use software tools to monitor thermal conditions versus 0 percent, providing insight to adjust to real-time operating conditions.

For network management: 60 percent use automated network management, compared to 20 percent 30 percent versus 3 percent use policy management processes to automatically provision network services, which drives faster response to service as well as network recovery times in minutes and seconds instead of hours and days.

IBM Global Data Center Study

Having a plan that aligns with business goals and keeping it current
Organizations with Strategic data centers are far better prepared to take advantage of market opportunities as the economy rebounds. They have heavily utilized consolidation projects to optimize the number of data center sites they maintain. Moreover, we find they are significantly more likely to continually evaluate the target number of data centers they should have in a continual focus on strategy and execution. For example, IT organizations with Strategic data centers were much more likely to have expanded and modernized their capabilities during the recent economic downturn. Over 60 percent of Basic data center operations made no strategic changes or investments over the past two years, and more than 70 percent dont expect to do so over the next two. In contrast, nearly all Strategic data centers experienced some form of expansion or growth over the past two years, and more than 80 percent of them expect to do so over the next two. Additionally, IT organizations operating Strategic data centers were more likely to regularly engage in formal planning exercises. Characteristics of Strategic data center planning that increase flexibility compared to Basic data centers include (Figure 6): 68 percent plan to build in smaller increments of capacity rather than build out all at once, compared with 53 percent 25 percent forecast the space needed to support the 1020 year useful life of a data center, compared to 0 percent 77 percent forecast power demands, versus 14 percent 33 percent plan to implement low- and high-density zones to support the varying power demands of new technology, versus 2 percent.

77% 68% 53%

33% 25% 14% 0%

Build capacity in smaller increments Forecast space (10 to 20 years) Forecast power demand

Implement high- and low-density zones



Figure 6: Managers of Strategic data centers enable alignment with business

objectives by engaging in regular forecasting and employing expansion strategies that ensure f lexibility.

Strategic data centers are in a better position and are nearly twice as likely to pursue transformational projects. Fully 39 percent of Strategic data center managers are planning projects over the next five years to significantly change the way they deliver IT services to their organization, compared with only 23 percent of Basic data center managers.

Data center operational efficiency best practices

85 percent of Strategic data center managers planning major projects, and 77 percent of those planning projects overall, say they will turn to outside help.

from one stage to the next, getting to the Strategic level requires a succession of steps. Leveraging the distinguishing characteristics of leaders applied to each discipline area can help determine how to get started, including: Data center operations and facilities management Servers Storage Network Business resilience Governance, including applications, tools and staffing.

Data center managers across the board understand that this will require investment in outside tools, technologies and assistance. Of those planning a major project, over three in four said they will turn to outside help, with an even greater percentage (85 percent) among Strategic data centers. Whats more, Strategic data centers are significantly more likely to leverage more off-premises capabilitiesincluding hosting, collocation and alternative sites for disaster recoverywhile still having 64 percent of their capacity on-premises.

Data center operations and facilities management

Strategic data centers pay careful attention to their facility design and understand the need for a holistic view that treats the data center as a single system. They plan to meet the business needs over the useful life of a facility by forecasting power, space, capacity and availabilitywhich leads to better predictability and lower disruption during changes and buildouts. Insights from leaders include: Right size capacity and availability. Forecast capacity and availability to meet the business needs of primary and backup centers. Then continue to manage for efficiency using real-time monitoring and management software. Design for flexibility. Ensure that investments provide the scalability required to support rapid changes in demand and technology by, for example, building new capacity in smaller increments over time and designing mechanical/ electrical systems so that equipment changes can be made without disrupting operations. Optimize total costs over the long term. Ensure tradeoffs between capital and operating costs are included in facilities design, and measure energy efficiency and power consumption on a real-time basis.

Recommended investments to improve your data center operational efficiency

While cost containment is certainly a critical benefit of data center efficiency, probably the most important benefit comes in the ability to better serve the needs of the core business and respond to shifts in market demand. Evidence shows that the journey toward greater levels of data center efficiency requires significant changes to the organizations tools, technologies and processes. Once companies understand what stage they are at and where they want to go on the efficiency spectrum, they will need to consider appropriate investments in time and resources. Because there are dependencies required to move

IBM Global Data Center Study


Building a new data center has provided us with more space, more efficient and green cooling and power, and more robust service delivery. Incorporating greater levels of redundancy was a key component of that.
Martin Constant, Corporate Director of Information Technology, NORAMPAC Paper and Packaging industry, Canada

Strategic data centers are dealing with all aspects of storage optimization and management. They realize the need to get ahead of the explosion in storage by using software and policy-based management systems to reduce the hands-on labor required to provision and manage storage. Insights from leaders include: Increase storage optimization. Leaders implement four to six times more storage optimization techniques, including virtualization, deduplication, thin provisioning and others. Reduce the time spent by storage architects. Implement storage management technologies, especially storage service catalog, to drive self-service and policy-based management. Dont overlook storage backup and archive. With all the focus on the volume of storage, leaders realize they need to manage the full lifecycle of data. Consider using more sophisticated approaches to storage backupincluding geo-replication or consistency groups for multiple snapshots. For archiving, consider using eDiscovery data mapping or defined processes for audits.


Strategic data center operators have consolidated their server infrastructure to achieve the fundamental efficiencies from server management. They understand the need to tackle the harder projects to leverage automation and software tools to drive higher levels of availability and improved quality of service. Specific insights to leverage include: Move beyond consolidation to virtualization. Improve SLA performance by using software tools and automation to move virtual images between physical servers and data centers based on policies. Prepare for cloud computing. Plan to use a self-service portal that allows VMs to be automatically ordered online, with a choice of size, operating system and service level. Take advantage of the latest technology. Knowing how to optimize systems and move workloads will allow you to take advantage of converged infrastructures (server, storage and networking systems that are sold together with management software in a pre-integrated package).

We are already using automated hierarchical storage, storage virtualization and deduplication as well as dynamic resource allocation (on demand).
Pierre Debagnard, General Manager of Albiant-IT, BPCE Group, France


Data center operational efficiency best practices


There are many external pressures on the network today, such as the explosion of smartphones and how they have greatly accelerated the demand for access to applications and data; the growing use of video; and the adoption of cloud computing. Leaders realize the need to have a data center networking strategy in place. They are also moving beyond traditional network optimization techniques to approaches that include network management and automation in order to improve overall IT efficiency and flexibility. Insights from leaders include: Develop and execute a network strategy. Take a holistic, long-term view that considers the network, servers, storage and applications and end-to-end manageability balanced against business and financial goals. Implement network management and automation. Use tools and processes that enable continuous network adjustments to meet policy-based application requirements, and use predictive tools to avoid unscheduled outages. Design for flexibility. Incorporate into the architecture the ability to automatically provision network services based on policies, with minimal human intervention.

Review your business continuity plan. Avoid reliance on tape alone for data backup and recovery, whether at the data center or a remote location. Combine onsite and remote disk storage for backup. Understand the impact of systems not being available to specific business processes or applications. Leaders provide the optimal level of availability to meet business needs by using an active-active configuration, which allows for rapid failover of systems in the event of failure. Examine business and regulatory compliance requirements. Gain an understanding of your potential long-term data archiving needs, including how search capabilities affect your ability to meet compliance requirements. Have a defined process for audits and have archive eDiscovery capabilities.

Governance, applications, tools and staffing

Strategic data center executives establish an environment that is supportive of using a number of management best practices, including: Use a centralized portfolio approach to application management. Leaders will also apply different service and support levels to individual applications if the application owner is prepared to pay. Focus on both hard, upfront capital costs and ongoing operational costs when deciding on data center investments. Leaders use monitoring and management software to ensure a total-cost focus in ongoing operations as well as when making point-in-time investment decisions. Implement decision-making procedures and policies. Leaders employ documented procedures and policies to ease decision making regarding ongoing data center operations.

Business resilience

The ability to manage IT risk is essential for enabling growth, dealing with changing business conditions and addressing new regulations, security threats and service outages. Leaders distinguish themselves in their approaches and their ability to mitigate negative risks while enhancing their ability to optimize potential opportunities. Insights from the strategies of leaders include:

IBM Global Data Center Study


We currently manage applications via individual tools, but we are planning to implement a single management platform in the future.
Xiao Xiao Bin , IT Manager, INESA Information IT Services industry, China

modifications. Nevertheless, ABI identified a suitable space, an 860 square foot high-ceilinged hall located within the palace, and began renovating the site. After determining it could not completely retrofit the site (for example, it couldnt introduce raised-floor cooling), ABI opted to equip the hall with an innovative cooling system based on APC in-rack water cooling blocks connected to chillers above the rack cabinets. By transforming its data center this way, ABI believes it has reduced the average power consumption of the IT infrastructure by about 35 percent, or 25 kW.

Moving up the efficiency ladder: Case studies

Associazione Bancaria Italiana (ABI): Moving from Basic to Consolidated ABI, the Italian Bank Association, is a nonprofit organization that represents the interests of Italian financial institutions both at home and abroad. Headquartered in Rome, the associations offices are located within the Palazzo Altieri, a national historical monument filled with significant works of art. In 2010, ABIs IT infrastructure consisted of 110 servers and 50 switches and routers hosted in 6 separate server rooms dispersed throughout the building and managed by a staff of 6 IT administrators and a total of 19 IT department staff. These systems supported 600 internal connections and several thousand external connections through a web portal. There was no virtualization, the server rooms were not properly equipped or cooled, and the need to maintain each one separately led to staffing inefficiencies. Looking to take its infrastructure to the next level, ABI decided to push forward with consolidation, beginning with centralizing its data center into a single facility. One of ABIs unique challenges was the requirement to locate the new data center in its existing headquarterswhich, as a cultural heritage, is under significant restrictions that limit structural

Our system provides cooling directly to the IT equipment, alleviating the need to provide room-wide air conditioning. By transforming our data center we have reduced the average power consumption of the IT infrastructure by about 35 percent or 25 kW.
Antonio Buratti, CIO, ABI

Now that ABI has modernized its facilities, with a focus on mechanical/electrical and power and cooling, it has opened the door to completing its transition to a Consolidated data center. It is planning to further consolidate servers from rack-mounted units to blades, whose higher server densities can now be supported by the more efficient cooling system and, in tandem, to introduce greater levels of server virtualization. In addition, it is planning to incorporate advanced management tools that will further increase the efficiency of the data center by enabling the operation of the entire facility, from monitoring racks to operating facilities security systems all from a single dashboard.


Data center operational efficiency best practices

University of Bristol: Investing for a Strategic data center The University of Bristol is a leading UK research university with a broad portfolio of High Performance Computing (HPC)-based studies, including climatology, aerospace, gene sequencing, social medicine, economics and computational chemistry. Its dedicated HPC data centers support the computationallyintensive research and teaching needs of over 600 researchers and students. In addition to its main corporate data center, the University has two separate data centers that are exclusively used to house its HPC and research data storage systems, which are operated at the Available efficiency level. The data center infrastructures offer high levels of virtualization and redundancy through clustered and distributed system configuration. The larger data center has 38 racks within an APC hot aisle enclosed solution, and the smaller one has 12 APC racks in a similar hot aisle configuration. They house a total of over 600 server nodes and 1.3 petabytes of storage. In 2006, the University devised a ten-year data center plan, which called for a major upgrade to its infrastructure with the addition of new data center capabilities to further increase its levels of optimization. Unfortunately, the campus is tight on available space, so the University came up with the solution of transforming an old water storage facility into a new data center. The unique space presented some unusual challenges, including the need to move equipment up five stories as the water storage facility was on the roof of the Physics building, and to ensure that no electromagnetic interference affected the Universitys research radio telescope that was housed on top of the same structure. Fortunately, it also offered advantagessuch as some free air cooling since the Physics building is on one of the highest points in Bristol. In the end, the new facility provided over 190 square meters of floor space with a number of state-of-the-art capabilities representative of a Strategic data center. These include a modular design with two enclosed hot-aisle pods that act like separate data centers. These APC Infrastructure hot-aisle watercooled enclosures can be easily scaled when the Universitys

computing needs grow. The modular approach lets the University support future scalability while saving on upfront capital costs and avoiding overbuilding. Currently specified at 20 kW per rack, the facility is designed to and can support higher densities in the future.

We have developed lights-out administration tools that let us manage both the data center and the HPC and research data storage systems with a staff of four FTEs. This alleviates the need for staff members to enter the data center for routine maintenance and monitoring tasks.
Dr. Ian Stewart, Director of Advanced Computing, University of Bristol

Further characterizing a Strategic level of efficiency, the data center now supports a number of state-of-the-art automation capabilities, including lights-out administration which alleviates the need for HPC staff members to enter the data center for routine maintenance and monitoring tasks and allows both the data center and all the computer equipment to be managed by a staff of four HPC system administrators. Automated scripts communicate with APC sensor equipment to monitor the machine room environment and take appropriate actions, all the way up to being capable of shutting down the compute and storage systems if something goes drastically wrong. Looking to the future, the University is already planning to expand its current 38 rack units to 48, targeting a completion by late spring 2012. It is also aggressively pursuing green initiatives, considering both the use of more power-efficient processors and making more efficient use of that processing power through more intelligent software. Not only will this further reduce operating costs, but it could also extend the life of the data center.

IBM Global Data Center Study


Albiant-IT, Group BPCE: Operating at the Strategic level Albiant-IT is the services provider dedicated to hosting and managing the data centers of the banking Group BPCE, a French company offering a comprehensive range of banking and financial services to a wide range of corporate and consumer customers. The group has 36 million customers served by 117,000 employees and 8,000 branches. To support these operations Albiant-IT operates a total of four datacenters across two sites, one in the Paris metropolitan area and one in the south of France. The four datacenters combined have a capacity of 80,800 square feet extendable to 97,000 square feet and currently host 18,000 servers. 80 percent of the servers are x86, with the remainder consisting of Unix servers and seven mainframes. Albiant-IT has made strategic investments in its datacenter that enable it to operate optimally. It operates at a five nine availability SLA (99.999 percent uptime) and in fact has a measured 100 percent uptime since it put its current facilities in place more than two years ago. It currently has a ten-year capacity plan in place to account for its internal IT and hosting services infrastructure. The datacenters operate in a hot-hot (active-active) mode with a 2(N+1) architecture. Each datacenter replicates into the other and workloads can be moved as necessary. Capacity can be added in a modular fashion, both by increasing energy capacity and by equipping new rooms within the existing physical facilities. Energy consumption is measured at the facility level according to the energy capacity plan in place. A great deal of focus is placed on optimizing power usage effectiveness (PUE); the facility is currently operating at a PUE ratio of 2, with the goal of achieving 1.7 in the very near future. There is an entire system in place to optimize energy consumption that relies on a number of variables, including a rooms population, air flow, hygrometry and temperature optimization.

There is widespread deployment of virtualization, with overall server virtualization levels over 60 percent. VM movement is supported in an automated capacity (for example, in case of server failure). Virtualization is also incorporated into the storage environment, with deduplication and dynamic resource allocation on demand. Backup is performed onsite via tape and on disks with geo-replication. The network is architected to recover from an outage in real-time. Governance is provided through a change committee representing each of the client organizations within the bank, and the core decision making criteria are always ensuring the ability to deliver high availability and minimize operating costs.

We operate at a 99.999 percent SLA and have had 100 percent measured availability since our current facility was deployed two years ago.
Pierre Debagnard, General Manager of Albiant-IT, BPCE Group

Even though the datacenter is operating in most respects at the Strategic level, this is not to say there are not future areas of further optimization that Albiant-IT is considering. One of the areas is the introduction of a converged infrastructure. AlbiantIT, with its BPCE clients, is considering implementing such an infrastructure providing it helps reduce costs and enables a quick return on investment (ROI).


Data center operational efficiency best practices

Moving toward a Strategic data center

Data centers are under constant pressure to scale and evolve to meet the changing needs of the underlying business. To adapt to these challenges, each data center takes a slightly different approach. Today, about one in five data centers operate at the Strategic, or highest efficiency, level. Companies not yet operating at this level can achieve greater efficiency by emulating the four key behaviors of IT organizations that operate Strategic data centers: Optimize the server, storage, network and facilities assets to maximize capacity and availability Design for flexibility to support changing business needs Use automation tools to improve service levels and availability Have a plan that aligns with the business goals and keep it current.

How IBM can help

IBM helps enterprises around the world plan, optimize and automate their data centers in order to support their business growth and objectives. IBM has a broad portfolio of data center facilities planning and design, cloud, IT virtualization, network modernization, business resilience and automation services that can help you meet your data center efficiency objectives. You can get started on your data center efficiency journey by taking the Data Center Efficiency Self-Assessment. This no-cost online tool will give you a quick snapshot of your efficiency status across facilities management, servers, storage and networks.

For more information

To learn more about how IBM can help you progress on your journey to greater data center efficiency, you can contact your IBM representative or visit the following websites:

For most companies, getting there will not happen overnight. It typically takes organizations several years of planning and strategic investments in each area of the data center to achieve Strategic status. While North American organizations and companies with more than 500 employees had the highest proportion of Strategic data centers, this level of efficiency is achievable for any company. Strategic data centers were found in all regions of the world and in smaller companies. Most companies, whatever their size, plan on using outside help with the projects that advance efficiency, a realization especially shared by Strategic data centers. To achieve the highest levels of efficiency, data centers must continually re-evaluate their performance, reviewing their investments in tools, technologies and governance, and must have the right level of skills and assistance. Doing so can yield benefits in greater staffing efficiencies, greater levels of flexibility and the ability to spend more time on strategic IT initiative to support the business.

IBM Global Data Center Study


Study methodology The information for this white paper came from a global survey of 308 IT executives, conducted in January 2012, and was supplemented by in-depth interviews with data center managers representing each stage of data center efficiency. The survey population consisted of IT executives who have responsibility for or influence over their organizations data center strategy, from organizations of over $50 million in revenue with at least one enterprise-class data center. Respondents were randomly recruited and screened from international panels and came from seven different countries: the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, and India. Global data was derived by weighting IT spending on server systems, storage, enterprise networks, packaged software and services (excluding telecom

and outsourcing). Respondents were recruited by phone to complete the survey over the Internet. Both phone and web portions of the survey were administered in the local language. The surveys asked respondents to provide information about their data center, tools, technologies and processes across eight separate areas: data center operations, facilities management, servers, storage, network, applications and tools, governance and staffing. The questions were designed to unearth the data centers efficiency level in each of these areas. The data from the survey was imported into an IDC model designed to assess and categorize efficiency in each of these areas and to roll it up into an overall data center efficiency rating (Figure 7). The model examines the levers by which data centers can improve their infrastructure and identified a number of areas, including availability/resilience, cost-effectiveness and the flexibility to provide the capacity needed by the business. The demographics of the respondents were:



% of survey respondents

21% 17%

60 percent from mature countries and 40 percent in growth markets 63 percent from large enterprise and 37 percent from small and mid-sized businesses 83 percent were IT managers and 17 percent were chief information officers 25 industries covering finance, communications, industrial, distribution, public sector and others.

1 standard deviation

1 standard deviation

The information from the survey was supplemented with five in-depth interviews with executives responsible for data centers in North America, Europe and Asia. The respondents had responsibility for full data center operations and represented the full spectrum of data center efficiency stages.




Efficiency level

Figure 7. The study identified four stages of efficiency worldwide for

data centers.


Data center operational efficiency best practices

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