Techaisle’s global Midmarket Converged Infrastructure (CI) and Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) adoption trends survey report(s) show that 28% of US midmarket firms are currently using HCI solutions and another 46% are planning to adopt in the next 1-2 years, more than doubling of penetration. US data is based on a survey of N=609 midmarket firms. Highest potential adoption rates are within midmarket firms that have a holistic digital transformation strategy, are born-in-the-cloud and are rapidly moving from Advanced IT segment to Enterprise IT segment. Input to HCI market positioning and marketing communications begins with a perspective on the drivers that lead midmarket firms to embrace HCI solutions. Survey data illustrates that three drivers – improved operational efficiency, cost reduction and improved scalability – are the most frequently-cited reasons for embracing HCI. Issues connected to core infrastructure renewal, “hardware upgrade” (34%), “data center consolidation” (29%), and “improved backup/DR” (27%) round out the list of top-rated drivers.
Techaisle sees the top three items as being well aligned with key HCI benefits, and the next three as connecting HCI interest to broader infrastructure activity. Both sets of responses should be considered in HCI positioning and messaging. HCI’s VM-centric management layer enables IT to realize high utilization levels, providing compelling return on investments in hardware, physical facility space and power. Complexity associated with next-system deployment is reduced because HCI delivers as an integrated, modular solution; IT can scale capacity without equivalent investment in new staff resources. This also avoids a key constraint of conventional on-premise systems: because HCI is scalable, there is no need to ‘pre-buy’ capacity, resulting in better alignment between business needs and IT expense.
Techaisle’s survey research also delved into the considerations that shape preference within HCI purchase situations. Data shows that high availability (45%) is the most important consideration in HCI evaluation, followed by a group of four issues: the ability to scale capacity and performance (39%), recoverability (38%), cost/ROI (36%) and management through a single interface (35%).
All four of these considerations relate to issues that are also important to firms looking to the cloud – and indeed, the next most important items – automation (26%), and most important to the Enterprise IT segment), public cloud integration (25%), policy management (23%) and hypervisor support (23%) – either relate directly to cloud or read on issues that impact cloud and hybrid IT strategy.
It’s clear from these responses that cloud is an important factor in HCI evaluation, as it was with CI assessment. However, there are some important distinctions between the two technologies. CI criteria align closely with private cloud, which is deployed within 47% of midmarket CI user accounts. Private cloud usage, while still meaningful (34%), is lower within accounts that have already deployed HCI. It appears from the data that HCI users are looking to support a more diverse hybrid IT infrastructure that spans public and private clouds as well as more traditional on-premise workloads.
It is inarguably true that cloud services have dampened the market for physical systems purchased and deployed by business customers. Techaisle research has found that cloud usage is effectively universal within the US midmarket – meaning that some part of the workloads that might have run on physical systems run as services in third-party facilities instead.
However, it is equally true that availability and adoption of cloud has not eliminated the need and demand for physical systems within midmarket businesses. There are many scenarios – such as requirements to keep data within a specified location, performance and reliability requirements (especially in areas with limited communications infrastructure), high internal server utilization rates, substantial a bias towards use of capex rather than opex for capacity acquisition, security or privacy policies or concerns – which may motivate midmarket businesses to invest in physical systems. IT capacity is and will be a product of hybrid IT, in which organizations both deploy company-owned assets and avail themselves of cloud-based solutions.
IT managers operating in hybrid environments are exposed to some of the advantages of cloud, such as low operating cost, advanced management tools, automation and orchestration and streamlined provisioning – and they want to capture these benefits in on-premise systems as well. This desire to source equipment that is designed to support internal private clouds and deliver savings and efficient management is driving demand for hardware-defined converged infrastructure (CI) and software-defined hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) systems.
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