According to new survey results released last week, 81 percent of U.S. enterprises intend to invest next year in servers based on the new 32/64-bit hybrid processors for industry standard computing such as the AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon EM64T processors. Respondents ranked server performance as the top criteria for the shift from traditional x86 to the hybrid servers. Corporations also said that network security and business growth will be key priorities in 2005, with 82 percent citing security and 79 percent citing business growth as top drivers of their technology spending.

Focusing primarily on data center systems, the new research revealed several other notable trends in IT priorities and budget plans for the year ahead. Commissioned by Sun Microsystems, Inc. and conducted by an independent research firm, Momentum Research Group, the study surveyed 301 IT decision-makers at large U.S. corporations across a range of different industries. The survey results suggest that Sun is well positioned with its investments in AMD Opteron processor-based servers and the Solaris Operating System to benefit from the identified IT spending trends.

In addition to the large percentage of enterprises planning to purchase 32/64-bit hybrid processor-based servers, the survey indicated that corporations intend to spend an average of 26 percent of their server budgets on these machines, and 10 percent of companies intend to spend half or more of their budget on these servers. Planned expenditures on 32/64-bit servers was essentially equal to planned spending on 64-bit RISC servers, which will average 26 percent according to the survey. 32/64-bit server spending appears only to trail traditional x86 servers by a few percentage points, which will account for 33 percent of hardware budgets based on the study's findings.

The survey also shed light on the drivers behind the growing demand for 32/64-bit servers. As compared to traditional x86 servers:

  • 72 percent of respondents cited improved "performance" as a reason they would choose 32/64-bit (e.g. Opteron) servers
  • 49 percent cited "ease of migration from 32-bit to 64-bit applications"
  • 47 percent cited "data center/workload flexibility"
  • 43 percent cited "backward compatibility for hardware and software"
  • 32 percent called it a "safer investment"

Areas that respondents rated as top-three spending priorities:

  • 82 percent ranked "increase overall level of network security" as a top priority
  • 79 percent indicated "support business growth objectives"
  • 54 percent indicated "deliver planned services to customers"
  • 51 percent indicated "deliver planned internal services to employees, partners, etc."
  • 29 percent indicated "meet compliance for Sarbanes-Oxley"

Other data collected reveals how IT decision-makers are allocating hardware budgets for next year:

  • 29 percent was the average (statistical mean) portion of 2005 budget expected to be spent to "expand" data center hardware
  • 28 percent was the average to be spent to "upgrade existing" hardware
  • 23 percent was the average to be spent on hardware service and support

The survey also probed tactics that IT decision-makers have employed in the recent past to reduce data center costs and complexity:

  • 77 percent said they have chosen to "consolidate platforms"
  • 60 percent indicated "invest in resource optimization (virtualization and clustering)" technologies
  • 42 percent indicated "switch open-source operating systems"
  • 39 percent indicated "shift to commodity hardware"
  • 37 percent indicated "outsourcing of infrastructure and/or support staff"


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