October 14, 2011 – Largely due to storage needs and cloud adoption, data center spending is up nearly 13 percent this year and should surpass 2008’s boom-time levels within four years, according to new research from Gartner.

Data center hardware spending is projected to hit $98.9 billion in 2011, with continued growth to $126.2 billion by 2015, according to the analysis, “Forecast: Data Centers Worldwide, 2010-2015.” Gartner defines data center hardware spending to include servers, storage and enterprise data center networking equipment.

The largest category of data centers – those with more than 500 equipment racks – are expected to undergo the biggest bumps in spending, from 20 percent more seen last year to 26 percent more expected in 2015, according to the report. By 2015, 2 percent of data centers will take up 60 percent of data center floorspace, an increase of 8 percent from 2010 levels. In addition, those massive data center operations will account for 71 percent of hardware spending, an 8 percent increase from 2010, according to Gartner’s forecast.

As more enterprises move to the cloud for data storage, their small-to-midsized data center operations are being replaced by large-scale data operations in the virtual realm. While data center operations overall are finding more efficiencies, the growth in new and increased data pools are anticipated to lead to double-digit expansion of data storage providers, which will push spending to “surpass 2008 levels,” said Jon Hardcastle, research director at Gartner.

“Storage is the main driver for growth,” Hardcastle said in a news release on the findings. “Although only a quarter of data center hardware spending is on storage, almost half of the growth in spending will be from the storage market."

Data center hardware boosts in emerging regions like Brazil, Russia, India and China will be offset by lingering stagnant investments in Japan and Western Europe, Hardcastle says.

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