IDC Survey: IT Consolidation to Grow

In a study commissioned by HP, the analyst firm finds that reducing costs and improving business responsiveness are driving projects.

The consolidation trend in data centers is going to grow as businesses continue to look for ways to reduce costs while making IT more responsive to business demands, according to a study by analyst firm IDC.

The study, released June 7 and commissioned by Hewlett-Packard, says the consolidation market—which encompasses hardware, software and services—will grow from $18.1 billion in 2004 to $24.7 billion in 2009, a 6.5 percent growth rate.

Infrastructure software aimed at consolidation projects—primarily virtualization and centralized management products—is expected to grow 13.1 percent, the IDC study showed. In addition, server consolidations share of overall server revenue will increase from 9.5 percent in 2004 to 12.6 percent in 2009, and similar growth is predicted for storage consolidation technology.

HP officials looked to the study—a survey by IDC, of Framingham, Mass., of 240 IT managers and administrators in May and June—as a way to tout its IT Consolidation Solutions unit, which uses a mix of hardware, software and services to help customers reduce their data center resources.

In addition, HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., is undergoing its own consolidation project, announcing May 17 that over the next few years it will trim the number of data centers worldwide from 85 to six, saving an estimated $1 billion in costs.

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Within those data centers, HP will put its latest technology on display, from high-end Itanium-based Integrity servers to BladeSystem blade servers, as well as OpenView management software and cooling techniques.

Steve Fink, director of IT consolidation solutions at HP, said his company has seen a trend in consolidation projects away from simply saving money by reducing the number of boxes in a data center to also making IT a critical part of a companys business operations.

"Now its about business value, not just saving money in silos," Fink said. "Cost is still an issue, but so is business responsiveness."

The IDC numbers back that up. IT managers surveyed cited that reducing costs was their top consolidation objective, at 30.8 percent. Increasing customer satisfaction was a close second, at 30.3 percent.

This is creating a demand for a new model of centralized operations—one that focuses on such technologies as blade servers, strong management software and virtualization—while offering decentralized control to a companys business units.

According to the IDC survey, virtualization is a key technology that is finding widespread and growing use. More than half of all virtual machines are being used in production environments, and 22 percent of installed servers currently are running virtualization software. In addition, 45 percent of planned server deployments are being eyed for virtualization projects, said the survey, which was presented by IDC analyst Matthew Eastwood.

IDC has said it expects the virtualization market to grow to $15 billion by 2009.

There are a combination of factors that are playing into the changing view of IT consolidation, HPs Fink said. Those include the continued IT budget pressures and the business needs being driven by such issues as the Internet, all at the same time that new technologies like blades and virtualization are coming to the fore.

"Now youve got this group of [new] technologies, and people are beginning to take this step," he said.

HP also is heading in that direction. The company is looking to migrate much of its hardware into bladed form factors, and also is working to create common management capabilities among its systems, based on such products as OpenView and Systems Insight Manager.

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