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There’s no better way to sell to a customer than to understand their pain points, which is why the most recent Symantec State of the Data Center 2010 survey should pique the interest of most channel executives.

The comprehensive study released last week by Applied Research West on behalf of based Symantec shows what makes organizations tick in regard to their IT nerve centers. Most interesting to the channel, the report highlights how and why organizations leverage various services offerings to keep the lights on within their data centers.

Conducted among more than 1,700 respondents across the globe, the survey put all size organizations under the microscope. What it found was that even in a spotty economy, businesses still plan to amp up their data center investments by an average of 10 percent over the next two years. At the same time, though, those budget increases aren’t enough to keep their data centers competently staffed and able to handle increased complexity.

Survey results show that 50 percent of respondents report that they are extremely to somewhat understaffed across the data center. Approximately 40 percent say that finding budget to appropriately staff their centers is a big or huge problem, 39 percent say the same about finding qualified applicants, 32 percent say it’s a big or huge problem training existing employees and 28 percent say ‘ditto’ about retaining employees.

Meanwhile, 92 percent agree at least a little that data centers today now have to many applications to manage easily and 38 percent pinpoint this as a big or huge problem.

Many organizations are taking advantage of numerous service offerings from the channel to keep up with the struggle: more than half take advantage of outside consultants, over two-fifths of organizations take advantage of managed service providers and nearly the same amount lean on outsourcing vendors to completely outsource one or more functions within the data center. Organizations are also increasingly leveraging X-as-a-Service offerings: 29 percent use infrastructure-as-a-service, 27 percent leverage cloud or software-as-a-service and 17 percent use platform-as-a-service.

The drivers behind traditional services pick-up and X-as-a-Services use are similar but subtly different.  For example, among respondents who leverage consultants 95 percent rank access to expertise as a factor to a major factor for use, 88 percent say the same about easing staffing challenges and 83 percent similarly rank the need for 24/7 coverage.  At the same time of those who use the cloud, the top driver was the need for 24/7 coverage, for which 85 percent rank as a factor to a major factor, followed by lowering overall cost and access to expertise, both of which were ranked as a factor to a major factor by 84 percent of applicable respondents.

As the channel looks to help organizations with their data center needs, partners would do well to examine how well they’re satisfying user needs. According to the survey, there has been a slight increase in the level of dissatisfaction among users due to outsourced data center functions. In the previous year’s survey, 22 percent of respondents reported internal users being less satisfied due to outsourcing. This year that figure jumped to 27 percent.