TheInfoPro: “Sea Change” Towards Converged Infrastructure

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Converged infrastructure is rising in terms of interest and spending, according to a new report from TheInfoPro, part of The 451 Group. The growing complexity and interdependency of storage, network, server and software in virtualized environments is driving interest in ‘integrated infrastructure’ solutions, which include unified computing, converged and appliance-oriented infrastructure, according to the report on servers and virtualization.

General-purpose offerings – especially those that are composed of multi-vendor components – are gaining favor, with offerings from Cisco and its array of partners being the most widely mentioned by respondents. The report focuses on where the money will go and which vendors are best positioned/most trusted by those interviewed.

“In a few years, we’ll move away from people buying the piece parts,” says  Peter ffoulkes, lead analyst on the report. “It’s going to change the way people spend going forward. No longer can people buy individual pieces like storage. Whatever they buy has to be designed and tested to work together.”

“We’re sort of in a transition,” said ffoulkes, lead analyst on the report. “The way did computing for the last 20 years is not the way we’re going to do it for the next 20. We’re in a sea change. It’s a multi-year journey, and we’re in the middle of it. We are definitely seeing people are refreshing their technology. “

The overall findings show budgets are flattening into the future. Right now, companies are in need of a technology refresh and this is driving immediate spending.

“There’s a sort of bump that is going through the system,” said ffoulkes. “Once that happens, people will get on a more normal type of cycle.” A Spending blip is going to keep moving through the system for the next 3-4 years, but will get smaller as we move through the system, the report finds.

Different companies are at different stages of this refresh process to cloud. ffoulkes identifies three stages of data center cloud readiness, three “As”: Agile, Automate, Adaptable. The first is the “Agile” infrastructure stage, where infrastructure becomes consolidated, standardized and virtualized. The next stage beyond Agile is to “Automate,” such as building software scripts and processes and procedures so that infrastructure scales better.  The final stage of the modern data center is when you make it “Adapatable.” Things like having a Governance engine. Solving problems like ‘Can I run this stuff at night instead of during the day to save money?’ “Making infrastructure adaptable is the last step necessary for the cloud-ready data center,” said ffoulkes.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Server virtualization projects are still driving activity and spending across much of the IT marketplace, with less than a third of respondents considering their environments to be sufficiently virtualized.
  • The majority of respondents are undertaking a major refresh of their x86 server infrastructure together with the network and storage technologies that are required to optimize performance in virtualized, cloud-ready datacenters.
  • In the x86 environment, which represents over 80% of respondents’ computing capacity, average virtualization levels have increased 13% from last year to 51%, with a notable increase at the higher levels, roughly doubling the number of organizations virtualizing production applications.
  • From the software perspective, attention is switching from base virtualization capabilities to the automation tools required to manage production workloads in virtualized environments: service catalogs, usage-based reporting and accounting (show-back), service-level monitoring tools and runbook or script-based automation and provisioning.
  • With most organizations embroiled in virtualizing business-critical production workloads, it is hardly surprising that vendors closely associated with the technologies required to build cloud-ready, virtualized datacenters top the list of exciting vendors. This strongly favors VMware as the dominant virtualization provider for x86-based infrastructure, and Cisco for hardware vendors. Both vendors also top TheInfoPro customer ratings for promise and fulfillment.

The report is based on extensive interviews with server professionals and primary decision-makers at large and midsize enterprises in North America and Europe. The interviews were conducted over the course of the second half of 2012

About the Author

Jason Verge is an Editor/Industry Analyst on the Data Center Knowledge team with a strong background in the data center and Web hosting industries. In the past he’s covered all things Internet Infrastructure, including cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS), mass market hosting, managed hosting, enterprise IT spending trends and M&A. He writes about a range of topics at DCK, with an emphasis on cloud hosting.

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