Data Centers

Converged infrastructure: Hitting its tipping point in the enterprise?

A recent report by 451 Research took a look at the state of converged infrastructure in the enterprise. Here are the main takeaways.

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To simplify the number of platforms and vendors it takes to manage an organization's IT infrastructure, some IT pros are turning to convergence to mitigate the hassle.

Even though convergence has been an emerging trend for several years, it's been difficult to understand if the trend itself has a real future in the enterprise. However, recent research from 451 Research seem to show that it may be about to hit its stride.

The firm's Voice of the Enterprise: Converged Infrastructure survey took a look at how IT leaders and senior IT professionals were addressing converged infrastructure and hyper-convergence within their organizations. The observations began with their budgets.

According to the report, only 17% of respondents were planning on increasing spending on traditional servers, but 40% of end users planned to increase spending on converged infrastructure over the next 90 days.

The traditional server market, regarding both x86 and non-x86, is still much larger than the converged infrastructure market, including hyper-converged and data-optimized systems, said 451 Research senior analyst Nikolay Yamakawa. Still, he said, it's a healthy trend and it shows that many of the people who have implemented converged infrastructure are satisfied with the move.

"The fact that such a large percentage are planning to increase spending means that their expectations are living up to reality, where they feel more comfortable with increasing the converged footprint on their overall IT systems," Yamakawa said.

The other major data point brought up by the report is that 17% of survey respondents said they were "very likely" to switch vendors over the next 90 days. Yamakawa said that respondents were asked about their likelihood of switching vendors on a scale of 1-10. The "very likely" means that respondents marked an eight, nine, or 10.

HP ConvergedSystem, Dell Converged Solutions, NetApp, and EMC's VCE lead as converged infrastructure vendors, but many alternative vendors appeared on the list as well, including newer hyper-converged vendors like Nutanix and Simplivity. That's important because those vendors are often considered both by users switching from standard servers, and by users who have already implemented converged infrastructure, and are considering hyper-converged.

"Given the amount of interest and given that other incumbent vendors, larger vendors, they're also rolling out and forming new partnerships in that hyper-converged space," Yamakawa said. "We may be at sort of a tipping point if those people actually go ahead and implement that."

In addition to the interest in new, hyper-converged vendors, the study also noted growth in adoption and interest in white-box, or unbranded, servers. Roughly 4% of enterprises have installed white-box servers, and an additional 6% are thinking of making a move towards white-box servers. Yamakawa said, in his opinion, that is "significant" as it means the white-box vendors could pose a growing threat to legacy vendors.

Overall, many organizations are making the move to converged infrastructure because it's fast and easy. Speed and ease of deployment was marked by 43% of respondents as their reasoning behind making the move. Although, 41% said that lack of expertise is what was holding them back.

Converged infrastructure forces IT departments to understand certain constraints of other functions in their infrastructure, and better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their organization. That's where the skills gap is most prevalent, Yamakawa said. IT will see an increasing need for multi-functional expertise if an organization moves toward converged infrastructure.

So, is convergence here to stay or is it just a fad?

Unfortunately, the answer isn't clear. Yamakawa said that 451 Research is tracking it, and much of the data points in that direction, but it's still a situation of "time will tell."

What do you think?

We want to know. Do you think convergence is a short term fad or an encouraging trend?

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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