Data Centre Spend To Focus On Software Instead Of Hardware

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

A new study predicts that enterprise data centre spending will shift from hardware to software

A new research report from TheInfoPro has predicted that spending on IT infrastructure in general and servers in particular will slow over the next two years.

This comes as virtualisation becomes more prevalent in data centres, with enterprises shifting their focus to software, rather than hardware.

Virtualisation Trend

Businesses over the past several years have pushed to deploy server virtualisation technology in the data centre, fuelling a spending spree on x86-based systems that could host increasing numbers of virtual machines and support cloud environments, according to Peter ffoulkes, research director for servers and virtualisation at the TheInfoPro.

Data CentreNow, with those servers in place and becoming more virtualised, there is less need for new systems, ffoulkes told eWEEK. The slowdown on hardware spending “is an artifact of server virtualisation,” he said. “It’s freeing [IT administrators] up to look at other things.”

Those other things are primarily software tools – not only management, automation and configuration offerings, but also private cloud computing platforms.

The findings are part of TheInfoPro’s latest Servers and Virtualization Study, released 3 December. TheInfoPro is a service of 451 Research.

According to ffoulkes, the transition in spending from hardware to software is the natural order of things as enterprises continue their migration to software-defined data centres that can support cloud computing environments. Businesses are still spending to create these cloud-based infrastructures, but the hardware refresh cycles for the most part are completed. The virtualisation bubble, according to ffoulkes, has burst.

Most infrastructure technologies will see a slowdown in spending, but it will hit x86 rack servers particularly hard, he said. According to the study, 35 percent of respondents surveyed said they will spend less in this area in 2013 than they did last year, with 41 percent saying they will spend less in 2014.

“Generally, people are buying fewer of them, so there’s less money being spent,” ffoulkes said.

Integrated Offerings

However, there is a growing interested in integrated infrastructure offerings, such as unified computing and converged infrastructures such as Cisco Systems’ Unified Computing Systems (UCS), VCE’s Vblocks and similar offerings from Hewlett-Packard and Dell. Forty-nine percent of respondents in TheInfoPro study said they are currently using such systems, while another 26 percent said they expect to be considering these technologies in the next two years.

“They’re gaining more and more traction in the marketplace,” he said.

In addition, as prices go down and capacity increases, businesses are increasingly looking at solid-state disks (SSDs), either inside server or as direct-attached storage. Both the integrated infrastructures and SSDs are being view as important components in cloud-ready data centres.

Spending Decrease

As spending on IT infrastructure technologies is expected to decrease in 2013 and 2014, software needed to run cloud-ready data centres are expected to grow in that time. This year, the areas expected to see the most spending will be the management and automation of virtualised data centres. In 2014, cloud platforms will be the top focus, with 30 percent of respondents planning increased spending.

The leaders in this area include VMware, with its growing cloud capabilities, Citrix Systems and Microsoft, which offers such products as System Center, Hyper-V, Azure, Office 365 and SQL Server. The OpenStack cloud platform also is gaining interest among enterprises, particularly given the fast adoption by vendors and the drive to make it more enterprise-ready, ffoulkes said.

In data centre management software, VMware and Microsoft get the most attention from respondents in the study, with BMC Software, CA, HP and ServiceNow also getting noticed.

Ffoulkes is scheduled to lead a webinar about the study and its findings 5 December at 2pm Eastern.

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Originally published on eWeek.

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