Special report: The state of European hyper-convergence

Simon Bramble

Tuesday 26 July 2016

Businesses are approaching the jumping-off point for hyper-converged infrastructure en masse, with a new Lenovo-commissioned survey signalling a sea-change in the way digital workloads are handled.

Almost 50 per cent of IT decision-makers are planning to implement or are considering transitioning to a hyper-converged infrastructure, according to a new report that highlights the growing preference for software-focused business solutions over traditional hardware-based systems.

This finding suggests much of the European tech market is considering moving to software or cloud-based architecture imminently. The Lenovo-commissioned Spiceworks survey into the state of hyper-convergence in the EMEA region checked the pulse of regional tech trends among 179 key IT professionals, now let’s explore some of the results.

Awareness levels are high – the vast majority (86 per cent) of those questioned were aware of hyper-convergence as a concept – but there is still a way to go in terms of fully understanding the concept. Just over a quarter of respondents said they knew a lot about it. Meanwhile, only about one in 10 said they had heard of hyper-converged infrastructure by name alone.

The report suggests that hyper-convergence is front and centre in the minds of much of the IT community. Feedback from respondents working in sectors such as IT services, manufacturing, education and construction supports the notion that the growth of data-driven decision-making, increased customer insight, and the need for improved efficiencies and scalability is redefining storage and networking solutions.

Hyper-converged infrastructure isn’t widespread – yet

Just under a fifth (18 per cent) of the IT professionals surveyed said their organisation had made the jump from physical servers to software-led technology, and almost half (47 per cent) confirmed that they are either planning or considering transferring to a hyper-converged solution, or are evaluating the possibility of doing so.

Of those about to make the switch to hyper-converged infrastructure systems, 79 per cent suggested they are likely to do so with the next two years. Drilling down further, that figure includes 38 per cent who said they would be looking to make the move within the next 12 months.

Underlining the sense of urgency surrounding hyper-converged infrastructure transfer, only 15 per cent of IT pros thinking of such a move plan to make it in more than two years’ time. So what’s underpinning this industry-wide push for digital transformation?

There’s no such thing as too much efficiency

The overriding factor driving consideration is the prospect of making efficiencies across the board. IT pros told Spiceworks that workload optimisation and centralised management are the two biggest influences when it comes to thinking about hyper-converged infrastructure, with 59 per cent citing the former and 58 per cent the latter.

Transforming the way data is handled followed closely, with data centre modernisation (47 per cent) or data centre consolidation (42 per cent) accounting for 69 per cent of the net responses. Improved data back-up and recovery, cloud capability and support for development and testing were also decisive.

When it comes to the benefits IT managers have experienced or would expect to achieve with hyper-converged infrastructure, five strengths came out on top, with each being nominated by more than 30 per cent of respondents. Centralised management (41 per cent) was the biggest scoring benefit, while increased efficiency and greater flexibility were each picked by 37 per cent of IT pros. Increased scalability (35 per cent) and enhanced performance (34 per cent) rounded out the leading responses.

Concerns among decision-makers

Notably, only just over a quarter of participants consider reduced costs (CapEx or OpEx) to be a potential plus. And when asked what the barriers might be to a hyper-converged package, nearly three in five said cost (initial investment or TCO) was the biggest. That could mean that many IT decision-makers don’t have a clear idea of the potential for medium- to long-term savings afforded by such a solution.

Other concerns included reliability (30 per cent), security (28 per cent), the risk of a single point of failure (27 per cent) and a gap in the expertise needed to implement and manage the infrastructure (27 per cent).

But the general mood among those questioned was one that suggested an industry-wide shift in data architecture is imminent.

“The way modern businesses collate, analyse and share data is rapidly changing, driving some IT pros to reevaluate how they use technology to support important business objectives,” said Spiceworks’ Research Manager, Jared Hall. “IT managers are looking for solutions that can keep pace with their needs. Flexibility and scalability are two features that routinely weigh heavily into their purchasing decisions, and as the report found, IT pros believe hyper-converged infrastructure can be a way to achieve that.”

With hyper-converged infrastructure heading towards $1.6 billion of revenue by 2020, it’s already outstripping numerous other IT sectors in terms of growth. Now that the buzz around big data has settled, the report shows that focus is now upon how to facilitate it. And as the essence of software-led computing, hyper-converged infrastructure is the elegant solution whose foothold is only going to increase.

Learn more about what a hyper-converged infrastructure can do for you, and take a look at the full state of European hyper-convergence report and accompanying infographic.

To find out how you can stay competitive, check out our online eBook series outlining the challenges and opportunities facing 21st-century organisations.

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