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Datacenter Expansion is on for 2010

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Datacenter builds and expansion will grow at a respectable rate in 2010 and into 2011, with around one-third of large firms surveyed planning to make expansions this year and 83 percent planning to expand their datacenter facilities in the next 12 to 24 months.

Digital Reality Trust, which builds and leases datacenters, conducted the survey in partnership with Campos Research & Analysis, surveying 300 IT decision makers at large corporations in North America with annual revenues of at least $1 billion and/or at least 5,000 employees.

In the survey, they found 83 percent of respondents are planning datacenter expansions in the next 12 to 24 months, 36 percent have definite plans to make those expansions this year, and 73 percent of respondents plan to add two or more facilities as part of their data center expansions.

IT managers may have big plans but don’t all have the budgets to match, according to the survey. Datacenter and IT budgets are both projected to increase by 8 percent in 2010, a modest amount, considering what they said their expansion plans are. Seventy percent of those surveyed are planning projects of at least 15,000 square feet in size or 2 megawatts or greater of power, which would mean a very large and very expensive datacenter.

However, the expansion isn’t just for computing power, they also need to get more power into these centers. The electric bill has been a rising concernfor some time, and it showed up in this survey, the second done by Digital Reality, in a big way. In last year’s survey, power came in fifth in the order of management priorities. This year, it was tops.

The survey found 76 percent of respondents now meter their power use and the number of companies that monitor power down to the PDU level increased by 29 percent over last year. Three-quarter of companies surveyed are confident they can comply with future carbon emissions-related and energy-related regulations and one in six respondents report PUE ratings of less than 2.0 for their facilities, well below the national average of 3.0.

“There has been significant progress over the past two to three years in the area of datacenter energy efficiency. Over that period, the industry has gone from power metering being the exception to power metering being utilized by more than three quarters of respondents. Awareness of PUE is also nearly universal now, with 96 percent of companies familiar with the emerging standard for measuring energy efficiency,” Chris Crosby, senior vice president of corporate development for Digital Realty Trust, said in a statement.

The findings are the results of a survey conducted by Digital Realty Trust, a company that builds and leases datacenters. While a convenient finding for the firm, others are backing it up.

Michelle Bailey, research vice president for IDC said in a statement, “Last year, many enterprise customers put their plans for new datacenter construction on hold as the capital markets dried up. As a result, we have seen IT organizations increasingly look to third party suppliers with flexible financing strategies as a means to supplement their own aging datacenters.”

A similar sentiment was expressed at the Datacenter Dynamics conference in New York earlier this week. Data Center Knowledge, a blog focused on datacenter issues, quoted Jim Kerrigan, director of the datacenter practiceat the real estate firm Grubb & Ellis as stating “All those deals that got shelved in 2009 because the CFO said no .. they’re going to happen.”

Dave Cappuccio, vice president and chief of research for infrastructures at Gartner, wasn’t too surprised at the DRT findings either. “I’d be shocked if their research showed a decrease in demand,” he said in an e-mail response.

New datacenters versus retrofits

“That said, I would say that we are seeing an increase in demand, but not necessarily for new space as much as retrofits — the down economy has curtailed a lot of capital budgets and the retrofit market is benefiting. If you’ll notice in the survey the respondents said that they were planning ‘expansions’ in the coming year — which may not necessarily mean new builds,” he added.

The one area he disagreed with DRT’s findings was the size of the datacenters, 15,000 feet or larger.

“I am seeing the opposite. There is a new realization by many IT shops that if IT space is designed properly — focusing on vertical scalability vs. horizontal — getting the most compute per square foot possible, then the total square footage required will go down. I have seen many projects actually shrink in size after a detailed analysis of what was needed (vs. what was originally wanted) was performed,” he told

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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