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The data center is being reimagined, not disappearing

News Analysis
Mar 05, 20193 mins
Computers and PeripheralsData Center

While many workloads are shifting to the cloud, on-premises server hardware continues to be vital to the workplace, a new Spiceworks survey finds.

big data / data center / server racks / storage / binary code / analytics
Credit: monsitj / Getty Images

I have documented more than once that the data center is not going away; it’s being reimagined. And now comes a report with greater details on that change.

Spiceworks has released its 2019 State of Servers report that examines on-premises server infrastructure in the workplace, including purchase plans, brand prevalence, and perceptions. The results of the survey, which was conducted in February and included 530 IT buyers from organizations across North America and Europe, show that 98 percent of businesses currently run on-premises servers, and 72 percent of businesses plan to purchase new server hardware within the next three years. 

“While many workloads are shifting to the cloud, on-premises server hardware continues to be vital to the workplace, and the vast majority of businesses plan to buy servers for the foreseeable future, even if they’re also taking advantage of the cloud,” said Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks in a statement. “Additionally, thanks to competition in the market, businesses can expect continued advancements and access to a wealth of server infrastructure and component options.”

What is driving server purchases?

One of the major driving factors is Windows Server 2008 reaching end of life. Microsoft will end all support for the operating system on January 2020, meaning there will be no more fixes issued after that date. Nearly one-third of organizations surveyed said Server 2008 end of life is the reason for purchasing new server hardware.

Large enterprises (more than 1,000 employees) are most likely to purchase new servers this year, with 68 percent of enterprises planning to buy servers within the next 12 months, compared to 34 percent of mid-size companies (100 to 999 employees), and 30 percent of small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

There are some interesting variances between the SMBs and enterprises. Enterprises are more likely to purchase new servers on a scheduled corporate technology replacement policy, while small businesses are more likely to wait until hardware failure. That doesn’t surprise me, since SMBs are often more cash-constrained.

A more interesting finding is that Dell is the most widely used server brand in SMBs (66 percent for small businesses and 71 percent for midsize businesses), while HPE leads among enterprises at 66 percent. Dell ranks highest across a range of attributes, while IBM is most associated with reliability.

All told, though, Dell has quite a lead. The survey found 68 percent of organizations use Dell servers, while 46 percent use HPE, 15 percent use Cisco servers, 12 percent use IBM servers, and 9 percent use Lenovo servers.

New technologies gain ground

In news that should go over well at AMD, Spiceworks found 16 percent of respondents currently use AMD processors in their servers, and usage is expected to increase to 21 percent by 2020. And 93 percent had Intel, which means a mix of the two due to overlap.

Adoption of solid-state drives (SSDs) in servers is soaring, from 62 percent of businesses now using SSDs in their on-premises servers, and up to 72 percent by 2020. Currently, 51 percent use SATA SSDs, 34 percent use SAS SSDs, and 13 percent use NVMe SSDs. But expect that to change because everyone is rushing to NVMe.

Regarding hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), 38 percent of firms surveyed us it, which will pop to 46 percent by 2020. HCI is growing more popular because it’s a turnkey solution with little integration required. Just install, and turn it on.

Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.