IT Priorities 2018: Datacentre infrastructure investments show no signs of slowing

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Investing in infrastructure has been name-checked by IT decision-makers across the UK and Europe as their top datacentre spending priority for the year ahead.

In the 2018 Computer Weekly/Tech Target IT Priorities survey, enterprises across Europe outlined their commitment to upgrading and consolidating their datacentres for a mix of efficiency, performance and cloud-readiness improvements.

Of the 1,875 IT decision-makers from across Europe, Middle East and Africa (Emea) who took part in the 2018 survey, around a third (29%) said upgrading their datacentre infrastructure (including their cooling systems, power supply and servers) is their top priority. This equates to a year-on-year increase of 44%.

Within the UK breakdown of the results, featuring the responses of 243 individuals, 166% year-on-year growth in the prioritisation of this type of work was also reported, as 19% of participants flagged this as an important area of investment for 2018.

Equipment upgrades are often part and parcel of a datacentre consolidation project, as enterprises look for ways to decrease the amount of floor space their server farm hardware occupies while achieving performance and utilisation gains.

The adoption of hyper-converged infrastructure is often cited as one way for enterprises to achieve this, and respondents to both the UK and Emea-wide polls expressed a keen interest in the technology in the 2018 survey.

When asked to pinpoint specific datacentre infrastructure technologies they would like to deploy over the course of 2018, 148% year-on-year growth was reported in the number of UK respondents who indicated a preference for using hyper-converged technologies. This equates to a rise from 9% in 2017 to 22% of respondents this year.

The trend was broadly the same across Emea as a whole, with 20% of respondents listing hyper-converged infrastructure as a top datacentre investment priority for 2018, up from 12% the previous year.

According to data published by analyst house IDC, demand for hyper-converged technology grew 64.7% year-over-year during the first quarter of 2017, with sales of related infrastructure making up around a quarter of the overall total converged market total.

“Converged systems have become an important source of innovation and growth for the datacentre infrastructure market,” said Eric Sheppard, research director for enterprise storage and converged systems at IDC.

“These solutions represent a conduit for the key technologies driving much-needed datacentre modernisation and efficiencies, such as flash, software-defined infrastructure and private cloud platforms.”

A deeper dive into the results suggests the need to consolidate their datacentre footprint is a key driver for much of this infrastructure investment in the UK, where there has been a marked uptick in interest (17%) in these types of projects over the past 12 months.

The story is very different across Emea as a whole, where a 26% year-over-year drop in prioritisation for datacentre consolidation projects was recorded.

Talking cloud trends

With datacentres often described as one of the largest line items on any enterprise budget sheet, finding ways to cut the costs associated with running them in this way is sure to be of interest.

This work can often form part of a wider push by an organisation to embrace the public cloud to meet their storage and compute requirements, and wind down their use of on-premise technologies.

According to 451 Research’s recent Voice of the Enterprise: Digital Pulse survey, which featured a similar number of respondents to the Tech Target poll, 60% of the 1,000 IT professionals who participated said they expected the bulk of their on-premise IT requirements to be met by public cloud or software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployments by 2019.

For lots of enterprises, though, the prospect of going all-in on the cloud is not an option they can entertain at the moment, as there are some workloads – for regulatory or cost reasons, for example – that need to remain on-premise.

Therefore, enterprises may seize on this opportunity to re-evaluate their datacentre setup, to ensure the on-premise infrastructure that remains in place is efficient, cost-effective and high-performing.

A highlight on hybrid IT

In the 2017 IT Priorities report, readying their datacentre infrastructure for the emergence of hybrid cloud deployments was voted as the top investment priority for UK and European IT decision-makers.

This may also explain why so many enterprises are prioritising investing in their datacentre estate this year, as part of their ongoing push to connect their on-premise resources to the public cloud.

In the UK drill-down of the results, the adoption of the hybrid IT model was flagged as a growing area of importance for IT decision-makers, with 52% more (compared with last year) flagging this as an area of utmost investment interest during 2018.

The same, however, cannot be said for Emea as a whole, with the data revealing a 10% drop in interest from IT decision-makers across the region in adopting the hybrid IT approach.

This finding was also mirrored elsewhere in the report, when Emea-based IT decision-makers were asked to indicate their preferred IT deployment model for the year ahead, which revealed a 12% drop in the number prioritising the use of hybrid cloud.

The number of respondents who expressed a preference for the public cloud deployment model – infrastructure as a service (IaaS) – remained the same year-over-year, but, interestingly, a 27% rise in the number opting for on-premise appliances was also recorded.   

While the results in isolation offer scant insight into what might be behind the Emea-wide downturn in prioritisation for hybrid IT deployments, some of the report’s other data points suggest this trend might be indicative of these projects maturing and growing in sophistication.

For example, container management emerged as an area of intense deployment interest for participants in the both the Emea and UK surveys in 2018 compared to last year, with year-on-year growth figures reported in the region of 118%.

Many enterprises are looking to use containers to manage and boost the portability of their applications, so they can run on-premise, in the public cloud or within a hybrid setup.

Therefore, the growing interest of IT decision-makers in using container management tools suggests – in some cases – maybe some have already moved beyond simply wanting to build a hybrid cloud and on to how to make the lifecycle management of their cloud-hosted applications even easier.  

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