Boardroom bullish about utility computing

Around 43% of executives surveyed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) will implement utility computing in the next two...

Around 43% of executives surveyed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) will implement utility computing in the next two years.

Comparatively, about a quarter of respondents said their companies already have utility computing while another 43% have no plans to deploy it. The study, entitled Self-managing networks: Building the infrastructure for utility computing, was commissioned by AT&T.

EIU questioned 254 senior executives from around the world from 20 different industries -  40% from Europe, 27% from North America, 21% from Asia-Pacific, 8% from Latin America, 3% from the Middle East and Asia and 1% from elsewhere.

The survey aimed to find out how executives' perceptions affected technology strategy, said Andrew Palmer, global director of executive services for EIU.

Only 5% of those surveyed were chief information officers, chief technology officers and chief knowledge officers. The rest were senior executives or board members.

Unix servers and Intel-based servers are commonly being used at only about 10% capacity and by migrating to a utility computing strategy, organisations can better use their network infrastructure, Palmer said.

Now, firms are using IP technologies to consolidate their systems and get more computing power out of their technology investment, Palmer said, adding that these companies still have some way to go before utility computing becomes a reality.

A good portion of respondents did not consider their companies' networks to be well-equipped enough to take on business challenges over the next two years.

Forty-seven per cent said their network is well-equipped for some of the business challenges, 11% said they were only equipped for a few and4% said their network was not well-equipped.

In comparison, 6% said their networks were well equipped while 32% said their networks were well-equipped for most of the business challenges they face.

The top six networking wants of executives surveyed include the need to ensure better network security, ensure better network reliability and availability, handle greater volumes of data traffic, increase the speed of data delivery, facilitate sharing of information with outside entities and integrate multiple systems and applications.

These differ from the top technology-related goals of respondents. The top three include the ability to access the network remotely, with 66%, followed by the ability to analyse, store and act up on customer data at 60% and round-the-clock business continuity at 60%, Palmer said.

"Throughout the survey the theme of mobility emerged as strong preoccupation," he said.

"We see that being driven by a number of things. First, the technology is now available to enable remote workers and mobile workers to access the network. Secondly, in a time where retention of workers is increasingly important, we see acceptable working and lifestyle patterns as a compensation. Thirdly we see the trend towards outsourcing and the extended enterprise which obviously implies a global, ubiquitous access to the network."

Companies are planning to open their wallets to accomplish the networking and technology-related goals. Results from the EIU survey indicate that 7% of respondents also indicated they intend to make a very significant investment in their network over the next two years, while 54% said they would make a significant investment during that time. Thirty-nine per cent said they will make modest spending increases.

Rebecca Reid writes for

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