Converged Infrastructure: Ready For The Next Phase

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1 A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper Commissioned By HP CI Provides A Platform For Enterprise Investment In Improved User Experience September 2013

2 Table Of Contents Executive Summary... 2 How Forrester Defines Converged Infrastructure... 2 Unchanged Fundamentals Unremitting Pressures On Productivity... 3 CI Matures And Realizes Increased Acceptance In The Enterprise... 6 Addressing The Laggards What Are The Remaining Barriers To CI?... 8 The Organizational Impact Of Converged Infrastructure... 9 Looking Ahead To The Next Phase Of Converged Infrastructure Key Findings and Recommendations Appendix A: Methodology Appendix B: Demographics , Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. Forrester, Technographics, Forrester Wave, RoleView, TechRadar, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. For additional information, go to [1-LYFS57] About Forrester Consulting Forrester Consulting provides independent and objective research-based consulting to help leaders succeed in their organizations. Ranging in scope from a short strategy session to custom projects, Forrester s Consulting services connect you directly with research analysts who apply expert insight to your specific business challenges. For more information, visit Page 1

3 Executive Summary On behalf of HP, Forrester Consulting conducted research regarding the acceptance and benefits of converged infrastructure (CI) among medium-size to very large enterprises during the second quarter of The findings, expanded below, confirm Forrester s original thesis that CI has been steadily gaining acceptance as an enterprise infrastructure foundation for a variety of applications, including as a foundation for private cloud and large-scale virtualization environments. In addition to supporting the fundamental thesis that CI offerings have matured and their acceptance has broadened, Forrester also found that CI customers are increasingly demanding an improved customer experience. Buyers of CI want systems that are easier to deploy and easier to manage in order to lower ongoing operating costs (opex) even more than they have been able to with earlier CI solutions. CI has delivered key benefits both as a replacement for legacy systems and as a foundation for emerging private cloud. Key Findings Results from Forrester s study included the following key findings: Overall acceptance of CI has continued to rise. Comparison to data from previous Forrester surveys on CI adoption show that adoption rates have risen and CI solutions remain popular. CI has proven its value. The reported benefits of CI align well with expected benefits, and CI implementations delivered significant improvements in core infrastructure management processes for most users. Significantly, CI implementations are strongly associated with adding value to virtualization and private cloud initiatives. Customers plan to expand their use of CI. The overwhelming majority of infrastructure and operations (I&O) groups report some combination of use or intention or have plans to implement. Forrester believes that users who are not aggressively implementing CI solutions risk being left with higher opex for their server infrastructure. Despite user acceptance, CI vendors need to improve the integration experience. While giving CI an unambiguous stamp of approval, the CI user community expressed reservations that CI was more complex and costly to implement than anticipated. CI vendors that invest in ease of implementation and features to reduce ongoing opex will be relatively advantaged in the market. How Forrester Defines Converged Infrastructure Forrester defines CI as a layered hierarchy of solutions that can range from simple independent elements (server, network, and storage components) combined together with integrated packaging and some common management features to solutions that include advanced I/O virtualization and pooled management, application-specific solutions that include integrated applications, as well as solutions with the ability to compose complex services as templates and store and deploy new instances (see Figure 1). The majority of CI users interviewed for this research were using advanced element managers with I/O virtualization and application-specific CI solutions, primarily embedded virtualization solutions. Page 2

4 Figure 1 Converged Infrastructure Taxonomy SW-defined data center SWDC products will be a superset CI including composition or programming layer CI with basic I/O virtualization and pooled management Generalized CI platforms Application-specific integration Element (server, storage, and network) management and virtualization Core systems CI including DB, hypervisor, or other dedicated app Blade servers, storage, etc. Source: Forrester Research, Inc. Unchanged Fundamentals Unremitting Pressures On Productivity The background against which IT management must make technology decisions is relatively unchanged over the past several years. This background includes an ongoing set of business imperatives from senior management around increased revenue and profitably (see Figure 2). These demands in turn spawn the need for improved service levels from IT in all dimensions improved availability and resiliency, better responsiveness to business demands, geographic independence, and others simultaneously accompanied by financial pressures to do more with less. While these business demands have remained fairly constant, the technology priorities of I&O teams have shifted toward security and resiliency in recent years. Virtualization remains a top priority its benefits are well established and widespread and we see cloud computing interest also continuing to rise (see Figure 3). Indeed, virtualization is a foundational element of private cloud, which is the most popular form of cloud computing according to Forrester s own research. Taken together, this data clearly indicates that a secure and available platform for virtualization is a key enabler of enterprise cloud strategy. Page 3

5 Figure 2 Businesses Must Lower Operating Costs While Growing Revenue And Improving Quality What are your firm s most important corporate business priorities over the next 12 months? (Top five priorities shown) Lower the firm s overall operating costs 74% Grow overall company revenue 56% Improve quality of products and/or processes 50% Improve workforce productivity 37% Improve business flexibility and resilience faster time-tomarket, quicker response to changing business conditions 34% Base: 200 global IT infrastructure decision-makers (multiple responses accepted) However, our research also shows that IT organizations continue to spend more than two-thirds of their budgets on buying new infrastructure capacity and maintaining current systems. Basically, this spending maintains the status quo and keeps up with growing business demand for capacity but leaves little budget for innovation. So with overall IT budgets remaining flat or only increasingly slightly, IT management must look for new ways to drive innovation in order to expand its use of virtualization and explore new technologies such as cloud computing. Against this backdrop, CI solutions have emerged as a consistent and increasingly popular foundation for delivering new IT systems and solutions. Interestingly, the reasons given for adopting CI solutions closely mirror the overall pressures on IT cited by the IT decision-makers surveyed for this research. The top IT challenges driving interest in adopting CI are familiar to most IT organizations budget constraints and increasing expectations for better IT service delivery (see Figure 4). Page 4

6 Figure 3 Technology Priorities Focus On Availability, Security, Virtualization, And Cloud Which of the following initiatives are among your IT/IS organization s major technology-related priorities over the next 12 to 18 months? It s a critical initiative It s a major initiative Business continuity/disaster recovery Security Server virtualization Standardization Storage virtualization Automated infrastructure provisioning and management Cloud computing Mobile computing Data center consolidation Network virtualization 32% 38% 29% 19% 22% 19% 29% 19% 19% 19% 36% 52% 42% 32% 40% 40% 39% Base: 200 global IT infrastructure decision-makers Figure 4 Motivation For Adopting CI Solutions Business And Strategic What IT challenges are driving your organization to consider or invest in a converged infrastructure? Budget constraints/cuts 59% IT sprawl 46% Provisioning of infrastructure and applications takes too long Can t keep up with the business and all the IT requests 38% 36% Need to free up budget for innovation 31% Lack of agility 31% Base: 196 global IT infrastructure decision-makers interested in adopting, planning to adopt, or having already adopted converged infrastructure (multiple responses accepted) Page 5

7 Of particular interest is that while IT sprawl, the second most-often mentioned challenge, can be seen as a budget issue, it also contributes to the two challenges that follow it: increased delays in provisioning new infrastructure and applications and keeping up with business demands. This conflation of complexity, budget pressure, and the need for increased responsiveness to the business is, in Forrester s opinion, an accurate reflection of the environment in which IT decisions are made today. In fact, when we asked respondents to tell us the most important reasons for their decision to adopt CI solutions, the pressures on IT departments were clear. The top reasons were the need to centralize IT resources, to respond more quickly to changing business requirements, and to lower costs while driving up efficiency in shared environments (see Figure 5). For those who have deployed CI, the consolidation, cost-efficiency, and operational benefits of these solutions are their most important value drivers. Figure 5 Motivation For Adopting CI Solutions Technical How important were the following in your firm s decision to adopt a converged infrastructure? (1 or 2 on a scale of 1 [very important] to 5 [not important at all]) 1 very important 2 important Centralize IT resources 45% 34% Improve flexibility and IT responsiveness to business requirements 29% 43% Lower total cost of infrastructure ownership 28% Create a more efficient shared IT infrastructure 27% 45% Improve IT infrastructure manageability 27% Base: 196 global IT infrastructure decision-makers interested in adopting, planning to adopt, or having already adopted converged infrastructure CI Matures And Realizes Increased Acceptance In The Enterprise The results of this commissioned study show a continuation of historical adoption patterns for CI solutions. The 2013 adoption numbers are modestly higher than in previous surveys, and there is no backsliding evident when it comes to customer intentions to implement additional CI solutions. In addition to the raw adoption rates, there is also strong evidence that CI solutions are being purchased to run a broad range of enterprise applications. Page 6

8 Adoption Of CI Shows Steady Progress In 2013, the number of organizations with no interest in CI solutions dropped to 2%, and the number of respondents who are interested in adopting but have no plans to implement dropped to 10%. This means that CI solutions have become an essential element in a wide range of enterprise IT infrastructures. In fact, 62% of respondents have already deployed CI solutions or plan to do so by mid-2014 (see Figure 6). CI Serves Multiple Applications With An Emphasis On Cloud And Virtualization In addition to serving as a base technology for a wide range of enterprise workloads, CI has emerged as a strong platform for virtual infrastructure deployments as well as a supporting platform for internal (private) cloud computing (see Figure 7). In fact, as mentioned, virtualization is the foundation for private clouds, and the fact that 93% of respondents already rely on their CI platforms to support virtualization (or plan to in the near future) is a strong indicator that CI will also form the foundation of their private cloud initiatives. Figure Converged Infrastructure Adoption Shows Steady Increase In Deployment What are your firm s plans to implement a converged infrastructure? Expanding/ upgrading implementation 20% Not interested 2% Interested but no plans 10% Implemented, not expanding 10% Planning to implement in a year or more 26% Planning to implement in the next 12 months 32% Base: 200 global IT infrastructure decision-makers Page 7

9 Figure 7 CI Solutions Support A Broad Range Of Enterprise Workloads Which of the following will you run or plan to run on your converged infrastructure system over the next 12 to 18 months? Currently running Plan to run Will not consider on a CI solution Server virtualization general VM platform 51% 42% 6% Business continuity/disaster recovery 46% 41% 11% Storage virtualization 41% 45% 11% Externally facing website 39% 32% 23% Desktop and application virtualization 34% 18% Base technology for data center consolidation 30% 47% 17% Internal cloud computing 29% 51% 17% Unified communications 28% 49% 18% Mobile computing support 27% 48% 19% Major application refresh or development 23% 48% 22% Big data 18% 47% 21% Base: 196 global IT infrastructure decision-makers, interested in, planning to or have already adopted converged infrastructure Note: Don t know responses were excluded. Addressing The Laggards What Are The Remaining Barriers To CI? While CI boasts a growing constituency, it is not ubiquitous. In addition to the minority of users not interested in CI, there are still large numbers of non-ci platforms sold across all enterprise industry segments. What are the perceived limitations holding back the minority of organizations that are not interested in CI, and what lessons are there for CI vendors? Of the 12% who reported having no plans to implement CI, 17 respondents reported that they were concerned about the high cost of implementation, 11 were not convinced of the benefits of CI, and eight perceived a risk associated with CI. These reported challenges point to a future road map for CI vendors, however. CI vendors must continue to focus on simplicity. The combined impact of the results shown in Figure 8 is significant, serving as a clarion call to vendors to continuously improve all aspects of the CI ownership experience. In particular, vendors should direct their solution efforts toward: Improving initial installation and configuration. Vendors must improve the initial installation experience, with the goal being a one-touch experience where the system automatically discovers salient aspects of its Page 8

10 environment, automatically reaches out for updates, and comes as close to a workable state as possible with minimal required user input. Lowering ongoing operational costs. Following a successful initial installation, the CI system should offer selfdiagnostics, automatic updates, and automatic coupling of local diagnostics with remote support offerings. CI solutions must help users drive ongoing operational efficiencies to rein in support and maintenance costs. Simplifying integration. While the vendor community and solution partners have a legitimate interest in capturing additional services revenues from CI sales in the form of integration projects, it is apparent that the cost of integration (including explicit integration costs, internal time, and opportunity costs) remains a top concern for customers. Forrester believes that vendors that are proactive in significantly easing the burdens of integration will reap benefits in the form of increased channel productivity, improved customer satisfaction, and advantage over more timorous competitors. Figure 8 Challenges In Implementing CI Center Around Integration Complexity, Cost, And Time Investments What are the top challenges realized in the rollout of your converged infrastructure? Complex integration with existing infrastructure High cost of implementation Time and resource investment 54% 52% 66% Infrastructure disruption through rollout Unrealized benefits Internal resistance to change Noncompliance 26% 15% 11% 8% Base: 61 global IT infrastructure decision-makers who have adopted converged infrastructure The Organizational Impact Of Converged Infrastructure CI, with its blending of server, network, and storage functions and in some cases inclusion of a dedicated application layer, blurs the traditional boundaries between operational silos, and we expect that users will change their internal processes as a result of implementing CI. We feel strongly that the most tightly integrated technology domains those of server, storage, and networking can be expected to undergo significant change, with such change tapering off in the more horizontal enterprise domains such as security. Overall, Forrester considers this an important leading Page 9

11 indicator and expects that continued implementation of CI will cause pervasive changes to how internal operations groups are structured and the roles within these groups. Among the changes we expect to see: Cross-domain training between server, network, and storage will become the norm. I&O groups will increasingly hire more generalists. Operations teams will require strong specialized subject matter experts (SMEs), but they will be a more horizontal resource, and there will be fewer of them. They will also most likely increasingly reside in a tight team with other deep SMEs to more effectively collaborate on multidomain problems. Our survey respondents confirmed our expectations. CI was reported to have had a positive impact on all infrastructure management processes, including server provisioning, storage, and network management (see Figure 9). Less of an impact was felt on application provisioning and still less on the coordination between business and IT objectives. Two lessons should be taken away here: 1) The impact of CI on server operations is still considered more positive than on storage and network activities, and 2) CI technology is least successful today in catalyzing better coordination between IT teams and the business users they serve. Figure 9 Impact Of CI On Specific Management Activities How have your converged infrastructure solutions changed internal IT processes? Major improvement Minor improvement No impact System provisioning 41% 46% 10% Storage management 33% 21% Network management 33% 21% Application provisioning 25% 23% 5% Coordination between business units and IT 18% 28% 7% Base: 61 global IT infrastructure decision-makers who have adopted converged infrastructure (percentages do not total 100 because of rounding) Page 10

12 Looking Ahead To The Next Phase Of Converged Infrastructure What does the future look like for successful CI solutions? Survey respondents told us what features they value most: CI solutions that are easy to manage, with streamlined and simplified management tools and interfaces; easy to deploy, with one-click provisioning and quick time-to-value out-of-the-box; and easy to support, with a single point of contact for the entire system and proactive alerts and performance data insights (see Figure 10). CI cannot add complexity to an already complex IT infrastructure. It must deliver rapid value through simple configuration and continue to simplify ongoing operations by helping server, storage, and network teams come together to provision applications to resolve problems faster. In the end, the CI winners will be the solutions that deliver on the promise of a unified and radically simplified IT infrastructure for today s applications as well as tomorrow s emerging cloud applications. Figure 10 Impact Of CI On Specific Management Activities How important are the following features for your firm when choosing to adopt converged infrastructure? (1 or 2 on a scale of 1 [very important] to 5 [not important at all]) 1 very important 2 important Easy to manage streamlined, simple 40% 42% Easy to deploy 36% 42% Easy to support single point of contact for support for entire system, proactive alerts and insights 28% 49% Systems automatically scale based on demand 25% 50% Proactive and automated updates 24% 47% Systems arrive fully tested and integrated 24% 45% Automated workload migration onto and off external cloud 22% 43% Easy to buy single SKU 15% 37% Base: 177 global IT infrastructure decision-makers planning to adopt or having already adopted converged infrastructure Page 11

13 KEY FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS CI represents the foundation for future enterprise infrastructure. Customers continue to increase their adoption of CI solutions and are leveraging CI to deliver value for an increasing range of enterprise applications, leading to better customer experiences and more efficient IT operations. CI has matured to the point where it is a widely accepted platform. The current generation of CI solutions from multiple vendors has matured into a multisegmented set of offerings that offer solutions for the majority of enterprise IT requirements, from simple server replacement to highly integrated application-specific solutions. User acceptance has continued to grow. In support of Forrester s thesis regarding the utility of CI, survey respondents report increased intentions to use CI as their solution platform. Users are showing a willingness to run critical workloads on CI, and for the highly popular virtualization use case, acceptance of CI is more than 90%. CI customers demand a unified and simpler management experience. In order to fulfill the promise of simplified and efficient IT operations, CI solutions must be easy to install, configure, maintain, and upgrade. Some customers struggle to achieve the same level of operational performance across the server, storage, and network domains, and this should be a focus area for the next generation of CI solutions. CI customers are concerned about cost, complexity, and time-to-value. CI cannot add complexity to an already complex IT infrastructure. Look for the next generation of vendor CI solutions to be easier to buy, easier to configure, and easier to manage. The next phase of CI must continue to break down operational silos and provide a faster time-to-value for a broad range of applications. CI can be the fastest path to private cloud. Cloud computing success depends on speed, automation, and standardization. CI s proven value as a platform for enterprise server virtualization makes it an excellent choice for private cloud deployments. CI solutions are poised to help companies accelerate their journey to private cloud infrastructures. Page 12

14 Appendix A: Methodology In this study, Forrester conducted an online survey of 200 global IT decision-makers from firms with 1,000 or more employees to understand current and future CI trends. Survey participants included IT decision-makers with significant responsibility for I&O at their firm. This study was conducted in June Appendix B: Demographics Figure 11 Country Distribution In which country do you currently work? Canada 2% Australia 6% US 21% France 11% China 19% Japan 12% Germany 15% UK 13% Base: 200 global IT infrastructure decision-makers (percentages do not total 100 because of rounding) Page 13

15 Figure 12 Company Size Using your best estimate, how many employees work for your firm/organization worldwide? 10,000-14,999 employees 8% 5,000-9,999 employees 15% 1,000-4,999 employees 55% 15,000+ employees 22% Base: 200 global IT infrastructure decision-makers Page 14

16 Figure 13 Level Of Seniority Which of the following most closely describes your job title? Enterprise architect 2% VP in IT 14% Manager in IT 37% Senior-most IT decision-maker in the firm (e.g., CIO, CTO) 18% Director in IT 30% Base: 200 global IT infrastructure decision-makers (percentages do not total 100 because of rounding) Page 15

17 Figure 14 Level Of Involvement In Firm s Strategy, Implementation, And Management Of IT Infrastructure How involved are you with your firm s IT infrastructure or IT operations strategy, implementation, or management? It is my primary job to evaluate and implement IT infrastructure/ operations technologies 55% I am occasionally involved in IT infrastructure/ operations strategy and make technology recommendation 4% I am regularly involved with our IT infrastructure/ operations strategy and evaluate related technologies 42% Base: 200 global IT infrastructure decision-makers (percentages do not total 100 because of rounding) Page 16

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