Many data centre networks are unfit to handle the current demand for cloud and virtualisation, according to a global survey, and Middle East firms will face consequences if network infrastructures are not upgraded.
A large number of respondents (91 per cent) have revealed that they do not believe that their current IT infrastructures are equipped to meet the demands of cloud computing and virtualisation. Networking vendor, Brocade, announced the results of its global survey of 1,750 IT decision makers, which evaluated the current state of their data centre environments.
The global trend is especially worrying for businesses in the Middle East, wherein cloud related IT investments are expected to increase substantially in the next few years.
According to a recent IDC report, emerging markets, which include the MENA region, will witness the fastest growth in cloud spending than anywhere in the world, collectively growing at 44.1 per cent until 2016. The UAE cloud market alone is set for a compound annual growth rate of 43.7 per cent until 2016, it is said.
This means that the share of cloud spending by emerging markets almost doubled from 13 per cent in 2011 to 24.9 per cent in 2016, which will account for almost 30 per cent of net-new public IT cloud services spending growth, IDC said.
"Businesses across the Middle East are starting to welcome cloud computing in a big way," said Sufian Dweik, regional director, MEMA at Brocade Communications. The rapid uptake of virtualisation is a proof of this.
However, many of these organisations risk long term failures as only small fractions of their IT budgets are spent on network infrastructure, and that too is limited to merely scaling up legacy networks."
"Unless there is a change in mindset and willingness to consider the long term implications, businesses are likely to see long term complications," said Dweik. His concerns are confirmed by the report which states that a third of businesses experience multiple network failures each week, with as high as 16 per cent complaining of daily network outages.
These are caused largely due to database applications (41 per cent), communication tools (30 per cent), and Microsoft Office programs (25 per cent), as new services, such as video conferencing and application delivery, to remote devices add to the strain on already unfit networks.
Tied into the concerns of loss of productivity due to downtime, more than half of the survey's respondents reported that network failure has, either directly or indirectly, resulted in financial impact.
Dweik believes that Middle East enterprises need to invest in purpose-built data centres that offer high flexibility to meet with varying pressures.
"In slow periods, such as in the summer months and during Ramadan, business in the region slows down, and the amount of data being handled by the network decreases. Correspondingly, during peak times, traffic volumes can peak and cause networks to fail. Brocade understands this elasticity, which is why we are promoting our on-demand data centre strategy.
This helps combine the best of physical and virtual networking elements to create a data centre environment that helps organisations to rapidly react to market changes and deploy new services and applications in the most efficient manner possible. We have based our technologies on open standards; thus paving the way for incorporation of new technologies, such as software-defined networking (SDN) into these networks."
Brocade's focus in the Middle East has been primarily on growing its data centre business, wherein it has the advantage of being one of only two companies globally with technologies across all four areas - application networking, virtualisation, infrastructure and storage.
The key to the growth of the company's market share will be the uptake of fabric-based technologies. Meanwhile, 18 per cent of survey respondents already use fabric-based networks, and 51 per cent planning to roll out Ethernet fabrics in the next year in order to support virtualisation plans.
Additional findings in the global report included:
• On average, enterprises are upgrading their data centre networks every two years, but 24 per cent wait more than three years before investing in new technology.
• 79 per cent of ITDMs acknowledge that departments within their businesses have deployed cloud-based services, with 13 per cent admitting that these actions would have happened with no guidance from IT.
• Three-quarters of enterprises have on-premise data centres; 19 per cent outsourced.
• SDN's benefits are perceived to be increased productivity (42 per cent), better access to real-time information (40 per cent), improved uptime/availability (38 per cent), and increased service delivery (30 per cent).
• The average percentage of servers being virtualised today is 46 per cent; by 2015, the goal is 59 per cent.
• Network outages last for an average of 20 minutes, with two per cent having to endure outages of more than an hour.
• More than a third of workers stated that outages have caused SLAs to be missed, with customers not receiving goods and services; 41 per cent added that this has caused customers to seek recompense.