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Enterprise IT buyers swap traditional servers for converged infrastructure, research shows

A survey from 451 Research suggests enterprises will increase their use of converged infrastructure stacks to swap out traditional server estates

The converged infrastructure concept seems to be gaining ground in the enterprise, with 40% of IT buyers setting out plans to increase their spending in this area over the coming 90 days.

Conversely, just 17% of enterprise users said they planned to spend more on traditional servers over the same time period, while 30% said they expected to cut their investments in this area, a poll by 451 Research found.

The findings were compiled from the 850 survey responses 451 Research received from European and North American server infrastructure decision-makers during August and September 2015.

Converged infrastructure is the term used to describe pre-configured hardware bundles that contain storage, networking and server resources in the same box, which can be used to run applications or cloud deployments.

The survey found HP ConvergedSystem, Dell Converged Solutions and the NetApp Flexpod emerge as users' favoured offerings, with all three receiving above-average customer ratings

Despite this, EMC-owned VCE Vblocks – built using VMware, Cisco and EMC technologies – are most commonly adopted by enterprises, the research added.

Barriers to adoption

The use of  converged infrastructure technology has grown in line with the rise in demand for cloud-based services, while datacentre operators often talk up the fact these infrastructure packages are faster to deploy than buying the individual components separately, while taking up less floor space in their facilities.

451 Research’s report bears this out, with ease of deployment and integration emerging in the results as the most highly cited reason to adopt the technology (43.1%), followed by its scalability (30.8%) and ease of management (28.9%).  

However, managing converged infrastructure deployments requires enterprise IT teams to develop new skills, with storage administrators – for example – often required to develop skills around networking and server support too.

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For this reason, skill shortages were flagged by 40.6% of respondents as a barrier to converged infrastructure adoption, along with supplier lock-in concerns (25.1%).

Nikolay Yamakawa, senior analyst at 451 Research, said the results neatly highlight how enterprises should go about embracing converged infrastructure technologies.

“The study indicates one way to ease the transition into the converged space is to identify the gaps in internal skillsets and work with suppliers to organise training and proof-of-concept (POC) exercises prior to implementation,” Yamakawa said.

“Some enterprises can make the transition smoother by evaluating those applications and workloads that will be shifted to ensure compatibility.”

The responses – shared in 451 Research’s inaugural Voice of the Enterprise: Converged Infrastructure survey – revealed that 17% of respondents are planning to switch server suppliers in the next three months, with a sizeable number planning to ditch named-brand appliances.

“Commoditisation of x86 systems is catalysing competition as decision-makers increasingly consider alternatives, including white-box servers. A growing opportunity exists for those suppliers that can position their offerings to address key customer needs,” said Yamakawa. 

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