Data growth is the biggest hardware infrastructure challenge facing large enterprises, a survey by Gartner indicates.

According to a survey conducted by the research firm, 47% of respondents ranked data growth in their top three challenges. It was followed by system performance and scalability at 37% and network congestion and connectivity architecture at 36%.

“While all the top data center hardware infrastructure challenges impact cost to some degree, data growth is particularly associated with increased costs relative to hardware, software, associated maintenance, administration and services,” said Gartner research director April Adams.

The survey found that data archiving and retirement projects are the most popular approaches to combating the data bulge. About 62% of respondents said they will invest in such projects or continue their current investment in such projects through year-end 2011.

Other high ranking approaches are storage consolidation, storage management tools, and data reduction techniques

System performance and scalability, which was ranked second in data center infrastructure challenges, will see increasing attention as the economy improves and IT budgets grow. “Many data center managers were forced to defer infrastructure upgrades and extend technology refresh cycles in 2009 and, as a result, are now dealing with an aging infrastructure or, in some cases, product obsolescence,” Gartner analyst Naveen Mishra said in the report.

Concerns over network congestion and connectivity, ranked as the third biggest data center infrastructure challenge, are being driven in part by significant improvements in servers. The new generations of servers, with multicore processors, demand significantly higher network input and output capabilities.

More than half of survey respondents said they plan to expand their data center capacity by the end of 2011, and 30% plan to build new data centers. The top three technologies that respondents plan to invest in through 2011 are server virtualization (67%), application consolidation or rationalization (56%) and blade servers (51%).





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