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Blade Server Acceptance Grows Dramatically

TheInfoPro (TIP), has released Wave 3 of its Server Study. According to over 130 in-depth interviews with leading server professionals conducted by TheInfoPro, blade servers are finally gaining acceptance in enterprise computing. In Wave 2, 6 percent had no interest in blades while another 8 percent reported that they were skeptical. In Wave 3, these negative responses dropped to zero. Over 85 percent of users now report that blade servers are "valuable" or "critical" to their long-term server plans.

The interviews for Wave 2 of the Server Study were conducted in Q4 of 2005, whereas the Wave 3 interviews were conducted in Q2 of 2006.

While users continue to be evenly split between "scaling out" (adding processing power through the addition of small units such as blades) and "scaling up" (adding processing power through virtualizing larger systems), the blade option is no longer taking a back seat to virtualization, and in fact, many users cited plans to virtualize on blades. Balance is shifting slightly back in favor of scaling out as evidence by:

-- Blade servers based on Intel processors have risen steadily from 7th in Wave 1 (Summer 2005) to 2nd on the Server Technology Heat Index in Wave 3 (Summer 2006). This is particularly impressive given the broad penetration of blade trials in recent years. The Wave 3 Heat Index ranking reflects entirely new projects in companies implementing blades for the first time.

TIP's Technology Heat Index factors in the current and planned usage of over 30 different server hardware and software technologies, including server virtualization, blade servers, iSCSI, server provisioning and InfiniBand, prioritizing them based on the immediacy of planned implementation and near-term spending. Particular weight is given to those technologies with high planned usage but low deployment, which signals significant growth opportunity.

The Server Study asked many detailed psychographic questions on the "motivators and inhibitors" of Linux, systems management, virtualization and blade servers, as well as technology choices and timeframe for deployments. In a detailed examination of blade Servers, TIP found that:

-- In Wave 2, 25 percent of users cited little or no cost benefits as a major inhibitor to blade deployment; many were citing acquisition cost, and not factoring in lowered operational costs; in Wave 3, this percentage has dropped to under 10 percent.

-- Blade users have become more pragmatic, as the benefits users cite have dropped from complex and futuristic such as automated failure to simple space consolidation.

-- Simplified provisioning rose from 4 percent of users citing it in Wave 2 to 14 percent in Wave 3, while the more complex automated failover dropped from 16 percent to 6 percent of user mentions.

"User opinion of blade servers has shifted from disappointment over unfulfilled promises to acceptance and understanding of just where blades fit in the enterprise," notes Bob Gill, TIP's chief research officer. "As vendors have toned down the hype over blades, users are increasingly viewing blades as simply another form factor with unique advantages and disadvantages, rather than some radically new server type. As one leading edge user describes it, 'After all, for us it's just x86 hardware in a different type of box.' That kind of pragmatic approach is allowing blades to rise above the hype in users' eyes."

Wave 3 of TIP's Server Study captured details on a broad range of user experiences and plans for grid computing, virtualization, blade servers, server networking, server and systems management, storage options, and processor types. Technology providers discussed and rated by users include IBM, HP, Dell, Sun, AMD, Intel, Egenera, Fabric7, Brocade, McDATA, QLogic, NetApp, Broadcom, EMC/VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat, Suse/Novell, Altiris, Opsware, Rackable, Symantec, Oracle, BMC, Cisco, PolyServe, PlateSpin, and Azul.

To view a preview of the results of the study please visit the Web site, here.

Published Tuesday, August 22, 2006 7:22 PM by David Marshall
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