With the global recession in full swing for much of 2009, data center managers saw their IT budgets shredded while the demand for services only grew.
Given that, it's no surprise that when data center professionals look to 2010, at the top of their wish list is money-not only money for their budgets, but also for technologies that will help them save money on the bottom line.
"They're hoping to see budgets again in 2010," said Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates. "Some dough is what they'd like. They're all for refreshing clients now that [Microsoft's Windows 7] is here, and generally shortening the average system life, but [they] have been severely constrained this year."
Bob Gill, an analyst with TheInfoPro, said that in surveys of IT professionals, he's finding the same thing. They need money.
"Money is an issue," Gill said. "People are saying, -I want my budget back.'"
That won't be easy. According to research firm Gartner, worldwide IT spending dropped about 5.2 percent in 2009, with enterprise spending declining 6.9 percent. And while IT spending in 2010 is expected to grow 3.3 percent, to about $3.3 trillion, more than 50 percent of CIOs expect their budgets to remain flat or to decline.
So while money might be high on the wish list for data center administrators going into 2010, many of the other items seem to be technologies that help save on capital or operational expenses. If you can't grow your budget, you might as well try to lessen the pressure on what you have.
High on the wish list are virtualization and cloud computing-both the products offered in these areas and the tools needed to make them work well.
Gill said that IT professionals in his surveys say they are interested in both vSphere 4, VMware's newest-generation virtualization platform, and Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technology. That dovetails with a survey TheInfoPro conducted this year that found that while VMware is still the dominant virtualization technology vendor in the data center, a growing number of users are open to trying other offerings, in particular Hyper-V and Citrix Systems' XenServer.
They're also looking for tools that make it easier to manage their virtual environments. For Jevin Jensen, senior director of IS technical services at Mohawk Industries, that would mean better disaster recovery capabilities of virtual servers in the cloud.
"Most of the cloud vendors require you to use their -golden image' for the virtual machine, don't support spanning our internal VLANs, and/or don't have the same SAN [storage-area network] vendor/mirroring software we use," Jensen said in an e-mail. "These all limit the usefulness of doing real-time disaster recovery at this time. Hopefully that will change later in 2010."
IDC analyst Matt Eastwood said data center administrators also are looking for better integrated management tools. And Endpoint's Kay said integration in virtualized environments is key.
"Virtualization is all well and good, but they'd like to see it fully integrated with servers, storage and networking resources fully abstracted and unified," he said.
The growth in the use of virtualization in 2009-at the expense of buying hardware-highlights the desire of data center managers to grow their budgets again, TheInfoPro's Gill said.
"They were forced into virtualizing things they were not ready to virtualize because of the economic situation," he said. "But if they had the money, they'd definitely go out and buy hardware, so that illustrates their desire to get their budgets back."
They're also anxious to see a cloud computing environment that they're comfortable with, "where they can begin to experiment with which things can safely be run outside the firewall," Kay said.