EIU: Executives bullish on utility computing

The concept of utility computing has seeped from the IT department into the boardroom.

Approximately 43 per cent of executives surveyed by the London, England-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) plan to implement utility computing in the next two years, EIU announced Thursday. Comparatively, about 25 per cent of respondents said their companies already have utility computing while another 43 per cent have no plans to deploy it. The study, entitled Self-managing networks: Building the infrastructure for utility computing, was commissioned by AT&T Corp.

EIU questioned 254 senior executives from around the world from 20 different industries: 40 per cent from Europe; 27 per cent from North America; 21 per cent from Asia-Pacific; eight per cent from Latin America; three per cent from Middle East and Asia; and one per cent from elsewhere. The survey was geared towards C-level executives to see how their perceptions impact technology strategy, said Andrew Palmer, global director of executive services for EIU in London.

Only five per cent of those surveyed were CIOs, CTOs and chief knowledge officers. The rest were senior executives or board members.

Back in the 1990s, companies spent a lot of money on IT. Now companies have more capacity than they need, Palmer said. Unix servers and Intel-based servers are commonly being used at only about 10 per cent capacity and by migrating to a utility computing strategy, organizations can better use their network infrastructure, he added.

Now, firms are using IP technologies to consolidate their systems and get more computing power out of their technology investment, Palmer said. But these companies still have a ways to go before utility computing becomes a reality.

A good portion of respondents don’t consider their companies’ networks to be well-equipped enough to take on business challenges over the next two years. Forty-seven per cent said their network is well-equipped for some of the business challenges, 11 per cent said they were only equipped for a few and four per cent said their network was not well-equipped.

In comparison, six per cent said their networks were well-equipped while 32 per cent said their networks were well-equipped for most of the business challenges they face.

The top six networking wants of executives surveyed include the need to ensure better network security, ensure better network reliability and availability, handle greater volumes of data traffic, increase the speed of data delivery, facilitate sharing of information with outside entities and integrate multiple systems and applications.

These differ from the top technology-related goals of respondents. The top three include the ability to access the network remotely, with 66 per cent, followed by the ability to analyze, store and act up on customer data at 60 per cent and 24×7 business continuity at 60 per cent, Palmer said.

“Throughout the survey the theme of mobility emerged as strong preoccupation,” he said. “We see that being driven by a number of things. Firstly, the technology is now available to enable remote workers and mobile workers to access the network. Secondly, in a time where retention of workers is increasingly important, we see acceptable working and lifestyle patterns as a compensation. Thirdly we see the trend towards outsourcing and the extended enterprise which obviously implies a global, ubiquitous access to the network.”

Companies are planning to open their wallets to accomplish the networking and technology-related goals. Results from the EIU survey indicate that seven per cent of respondents also indicated they intend to make a very significant investment in their network over the next two years, while 54 per cent said they plan to make a significant investment during that time. Thirty-nine per cent said they will make modest spending increases.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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