Data Center Surprises

It isn't surprising that virtualization topped the list of technologies expected to have the biggest impact on data center investments over the next two years, according to a new Network World study, but the survey turned up some surprises as well.

It isn't surprising that virtualization topped the list of technologies expected to have the biggest impact on data center investments over the next two years, according to a new Network World study, but the survey turned up some surprises as well.

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One surprise: The 376 respondents reported a healthy average ratio of opex to capex data center spending: 53% to 47%, respectively. That shows companies have been successful implementing technologies that require less care and feeding, freeing more money up for investment in innovation, a marked departure from the 80/20 opex to capex ratio so often cited in this business.

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Less surprising is the fact that three flavors of virtualization were cited as big-boom items. Almost half the respondents said server virtualization will have the biggest impact on data center investments over the next two years, showing the headroom left with this technology, followed by storage virtualization (cited by 40%) and desktop virtualization (35%).

What about cloud? Some 31% believe private cloud technology will have a significant impact on data center spending over the next two years, followed by hybrid cloud at 25% and public cloud at 19%.

Asked about the need to migrate to flatter networks or network fabrics to contend with the shift to virtual resources, 26% of the respondents said they aren't sure the need is real. A larger group, however, sees the writing on the wall: 20% said it is real and they will evaluate the technology this year; 23% said it is real but they are a year away from the need to evaluate further; and 18% said it is real but they are more than two years away from evaluation. A final 12% don't foresee the need to change anything.

Asked how their data center strategy is affecting resource utilization rates, 60% said they are driving it up, which perhaps explains some of the shift in opex to capex monies. But some ancillary results were less intuitive.

For example, even with big investments in virtualization, 40% of the respondents said the device count in their data centers is increasing, while only 28% are seeing decreases (and 18% report no change). And 29% see vendor counts increasing, despite years of effort to turn that around. Only 23% have managed to reduce vendor count (39% report no change).

What's more, even as companies have strived to reduce the number of applications they manage, 52% of the respondents report application counts growing. Only 10% report declines, while 31% are treading water.

Big picture: It would appear that gains from virtualization have lessened the need to simplify environments by reducing device, vendor and application count.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

This story, "Data Center Surprises" was originally published by NetworkWorld.

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