Report Reveals Security Threats To Data Centres


Industry association AFCOM finds that 40 percent of all data centres are still using at least one mainframe and also raises security concerns

AFCOM, the world’s largest data center industry association, claims most of its member clients aren’t prepared nearly well enough for if a sophisticated cyber-attacker—or even if an unsophisticated hacker—decides to target them.

If you also ask about the status of mainframes in most data centers, you’ll find that about 40 percent of all data centers are still using at least one mainframe, and that about one-third of all data centre managers with mainframes who plan hardware upgrades in 2010 will replace them with rack servers.

Finally, despite all the hype around cloud computing, only 15 percent of data centers have deployed cloud solutions to date.

AFCOM, which stages two Data Center World conferences each year, on 27 Oct. released the results of its 2009/2010 Data Center Trends survey offering perspective on and insights about the major issues and trends involving 436 commercial, government and college or university data centers throughout the world.

Sixty-one percent of survey respondents said they see cyber-terrorism as a threat they need to deal with, but only a little over one-third of data centre managers actually have included it in their disaster recovery plans, AFCOM said.

Only 25 percent have addressed cyber-terrorism in their policies and procedures manuals, and only 60 percent have a written policies and procedures manual, AFCOM said. Only about 20 percent provide any cyber-terrorism employee training.

On the other hand, 82 percent report that they perform background security checks on all potential new employees—another solid defense against cyber-terrorists, AFCOM said.

“Data centre managers need to develop more comprehensive cyber-terrorism policies and get more aggressive in greening, particularly in government agencies where greening lags behind private industry,” AFCOM CEO Jill Eckhaus said. “It’s also time to decide where the mainframe is still viable and needed, and where high-end servers can do a more efficient job.”

Only 40 percent of all data centers worldwide still operate mainframe computer systems today. Of all the data centers that have mainframes installed, 45.7 percent expect to replace one or more of them in the next two years.

Of those that are expecting to replace their mainframes during the next two years, two-thirds will be replacing them with new mainframes, and one-third will be replacing them with high-end servers or other alternatives, AFCOM reported.

“This could be indicative of the economy, because mainframes are much more expensive than rack servers, so they are being replaced slowly by [commodity] servers,” Eckhaus told eWEEK. “This is a movement that has been happening [for a while]. Another factor is that there’s a mainframe skills shortage.”

AFCOM’s Data Center Institute is now conducting a research project on the myths and realities surrounding cloud computing that will be released at the 2010 Data Center World, in Nashville, Tenn., from 7  to 11 March, 2010. To register, go here.

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