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TBR launches annual Infrastructure Strategy Customer Research

TBR launches five mission systems-specific reports: Boeing Mission Systems, L3Harris Mission Systems, Lockheed Mission Systems, Northrop Mission Systems and Raytheon Mission Systems.

As the pandemic continues to push customers to hybrid IT, vendors aim to meet demand with flexible, cloud-like pricing models

Average revenue growth for vendors in TBR’s Cloud Components Benchmark increased 12.6% year-to-year in 3Q21, partly due to a favorable year-ago compare considering the economic impacts of COVID-19 in mid-2020. Further, with many vendors operating transactional-heavy business models, rebounding demand for license products supported revenue growth during the quarter, especially for software-centric vendors like Microsoft and VMware. COVID-19 is causing customers to reevaluate their digital transformation plans; this may include migrating completely to a cloud environment, which will erode opportunities for some vendors while others will expand their existing data center investments through solutions like hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).

Software-centric circles are blue. Hardware-centric circles are orange.

Given some customers’ reluctance to move outside the data center, opportunities arise for vendors to push ‘as a Service’ offerings

According to TBR’s 2H21 Cloud Infrastructure & Platforms Customer Research, 42% of respondents plan to keep most of their workloads inside the data center over the next three years. As COVID-19 accelerates customers’ cloud migration timelines, many enterprises turn to self-built private cloud environments as an intermediary step to a fully managed vendor-hosted private or public cloud model.

Further, many larger, established enterprises are looking to protect their existing investments in IT and find that their own data centers are a better fit for certain workloads, particularly those with stringent security or latency requirements. These customer trends present opportunities for hardware-centric vendors such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Dell EMC to capitalize on demand for cloud-like consumption services on premises in the coming years.

Data center consolidation persists

Many self-built private cloud customers adopt HCI solutions to modernize their legacy systems and consolidate their overall data center footprint, a trend brought on by cloud migrations and exacerbated by the pandemic. Colocation is emerging as a notable alternative to privately owned data centers in this model, as customers are offered a secure landing spot for their hardware while providing high proximity to major public cloud platforms. Recognizing this trend, OEMs are partnering with colocation providers to offer central management and governance capabilities that facilitate customers’ workloads.

Vendor competition ramps up amid high demand for cloud-like economics on premises

The cloud components market is consolidating around select vendors, such as Microsoft and VMware, specifically in the virtualization space. However, on the hardware side, vendors are emphasizing their consumption-based pricing offerings, seeking differentiation by taking a workload-by-workload approach. While in general IBM has been lacking in consumption-based hardware, the company is expanding its investments in the area, evidenced by the release of the company’s Tailor Fit Pricing solution for hardware consumption, which applies a pay-as-you-go model to a highly scalable, premium solution like IBM Z.

Gain access to the entire 3Q21 Cloud Components Benchmark, as well as our entire Cloud & Software research, with a 60-day free trial of TBR Insight Center™.

Register for our upcoming webinar, 2022 Predictions: Cloud, an in-depth discussion on the increasing importance of cloud partnerships in the market; how partners will enable growth and stickiness; vendor embrace of open, hybrid architectures; and more.

2022 Predictions: Data Center

Join Principal Analyst & Practice Manager Angela Lambert Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, at 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST for an in-depth, exclusive review of the Top 3 Predictions for Data Center in 2022, part of TBR’s Predictions special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets, such as cloud, IT services, digital transformation and telecom. 

Data center infrastructure vendors are racing to further entrench themselves into customers’ ecosystems, from managed services to hybrid cloud enablement, to diversify their revenue beyond hardware and create more reliable revenue streams. During this webinar, we will discuss three key areas where vendors are innovating and reinventing to carve out space in evolving markets.

Don’t miss:

  • How hardware subscription offerings will be refined to boost traction
  • How infrastructure vendors will embrace ecosystems
  • How vendors will attempt to gain share in edge compute

Mark your calendars for Thursday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m. EST,
and REGISTER to reserve your space.

Related content:

  1. Top 3 Predictions for Data Center in 2022

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Top 3 Predictions for Data Center in 2022

Vendors respond to customers’ accelerated IT transformations​

Hardware vendors will race to further entrench themselves in customers’ ecosystems

While storage, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and servers are the main products being sold by data center vendors, they are hardly noticeable in the go-to-market messaging that is being pushed out to customers. These vendors are more focused than ever on selling the outcome over the hardware itself,  whether that outcome is building a hybrid cloud environment to serve remote workers or deploying an edge solution on a factory floor. Data center vendors are looking to capture more of their customers’ environment, from managed services to hybrid cloud enablement, to diversify their revenue beyond hardware and create more reliable revenue streams.​

Building ecosystems is at the forefront of data center vendors’ go-to-market strategies to add value and create stickier offerings. This ranges from building management consoles and expanding software capabilities to refining “as a Service” offerings rolled out over the past 18 months. For leading vendors, this is done with an eye toward helping customers reap the same benefits they seek in public cloud alternatives — agility and simplicity — while also providing flexibility and cost control. ​

The road to a more diversified revenue stream is not without hurdles. Customers have already developed preferences for management tools and development platforms from cloud providers and ISVs. Markets like edge compute are complex with customization and industry nuance. Selling subscription models requires sales and delivery transformation for not only vendors but also partners, and a sales strategy that delivers on values that resonate with customers. In 2022 TBR expects to see further proliferation of the journey vendors embarked on in 2021, building out solution portfolios one use case at a time by identifying areas ripe for transformation that also benefit from on-premises hardware.

2022 data center predictions

  • Infrastructure vendors’ “as a Service” offerings will gain traction as the offerings are refined for specific use cases
  • Hardware vendors embrace the ecosystem
  • Vendors will carve out niche specialties under the broad banner of edge compute

Send me a free copy of TBR’s Top 3 Predictions for Data Center in 2022

Telecom Business Research’s 2022 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud, telecom, devices, data center, and services & digital.

Spending recovers as pandemic conditions wane in the U.S., but competition among HCI vendors remains high

Spending recovers as pandemic conditions wane in the U.S., but competition among HCI vendors remains high

Opportunity

Survey data suggests U.S. hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) customers’ budgets began to rebound in 1H21 after pandemic-related spending cutbacks in 2020. Although average budgets increased, HCI vendors must still contend with overarching data center consolidation trends that are limiting net-new HCI use cases, illustrated by 54% of respondents using HCI only to replace outdated hardware for existing workloads. Most respondents do not plan to shrink their HCI installments over the next three years, suggesting traditional servers and storage will face the greatest impact in the near term as organizations switch to HCI and migrate other workloads to SaaS and public cloud.

Competitive Landscape

Respondents believe that HCI vendors are differentiated by their abilities to run specific workloads. This is critical for vendors to account for in go-to-market (GTM) motions as customers give considerable weight to whether a vendor has specific experience with their use case. TBR believes experience with hybrid use cases such as backup, disaster recovery and DevOps will be key, as will industry-specific use cases that cater to sensitive data such as medical records in healthcare or transaction processing in financial services.

Learn more: Join TBR Aug. 11 at 1 p.m. EDT for an exclusive webinar during which Principal Analyst and Practice Manager Angela Lambert will review top takeaways and key implications from TBR’s 1H21 Hyperconverged Platforms Customer Research. Click here to save your seat!

The Hyperconverged Platforms Customer Research addresses hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) vendors’ customer-centric questions, drilling down into key categories such as adoption and budget, purchase drivers, workloads and attributes, purchase patterns, and vendor selection. Although the report is HCI-centric, TBR also researches the answers to questions related to software and services, such as what types of security customers desire to attach to their HCI purchases and what additional services are desired to make an HCI purchase complete.

OEM earnings roundup: Unpacking a quarter of ‘record growth’

OEMs boasted revenue and profit gains in the first calendar quarter of 2021

“Record growth” was a frequently repeated phrase over the last week as Dell Technologies, Lenovo, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and HP Inc. reported their earnings for the first calendar quarter of 2021. For these major OEMs in the PC and data center hardware space, record gains in revenue and profitability have been hard to come by in recent years due to several factors including slowed PC refresh cycles, stiff competition from cloud offerings, component shortages, and uncertainty about the  pandemic’s impact on businesses and consumers.

For all these reasons, it was a pleasant surprise to witness a series of positive earnings announcements. But as one company after the next reported breaking multiple growth records in revenue and/or profit, it led me to wonder the degree to which business growth was based on increased economic stability rather than major changes in the OEM’s go-to-market approach.

Comparing first quarter revenue figures from the last two years provides a good snapshot of how the hardware market has changed since the world was immersed in the COVID-19 pandemic. For Dell Technologies, HP Inc. and HPE, the earnings reported in the first quarter represent revenue from February to April. Looking back to 2020, this represents the time frame when many countries imposed lockdowns. Lenovo’s earnings time frame is slightly different — reporting on revenue from January through March — but remains a good comparison, particularly as Lenovo may have felt the pandemic impacts earlier than peers as a China-based company, especially given that Lenovo has a manufacturing facility in Wuhan.

All vendors but Dell Technologies saw a first quarter corporate revenue decline of at least $1 billion in 1Q20 compared to 1Q19. In 1Q21 all vendors exceeded their revenue levels from the start of the pandemic, and three of the four grew revenue by $1.9 billion to $3.9 billion compared to 1Q19. This is impressive revenue growth for these vendors operating in mature and, in some cases, declining market segments. But are all business units growing equally? The fact that HPE was the only vendor of the four to not grow revenue in 1Q21 compared to 1Q19 and is also the only vendor in the compare lacking a PC business suggests growth is not consistent across hardware segments.

PCs are the driving force in the revenue rebound

Demand for both consumer and commercial PCs has been strong throughout the pandemic as many people spent an increasing amount of screen time at home for work, school and socialization. Dell Technologies, Lenovo and HP Inc. have not only reported 1Q21 revenue gains of billions of dollars compared to 1Q20, but the OEMs’ revenue is also up significantly compared to 1Q19. In addition to pandemic-related demand for PCs, silicon supply shortages have also helped to stem the race to the bottom for PC prices. With limited chip supply available, Intel and peers have focused on producing higher-end chips for premium devices. OEMs are also less competitive on pricing while demand outweighs supply. Improving selling prices and shifting toward premium PCs benefit not only revenue but also profitability.

Data center is still not immune to the impact of cloud migration

OEMs’ data center business units tell a different story. While the three vendors all reported increased year-to-year revenue in 1Q21, both Dell Technologies’ and HPE’s data center revenues are down compared to 1Q19. This suggests that year-to-year revenue gains represent customers showing less pandemic-related spending hesitancy and resuming delayed data center projects, while declines compared to 1Q19 align to the overall trend of enterprise data center consolidation in favor of public cloud. Although with the smallest data center revenue base, Lenovo was the only vendor in the comparison that increased revenue from 1Q19 to 1Q21, possibly buoyed by its Cloud Service Provider customer segment, which has higher demand for data center infrastructure compared to the enterprise segment. Overall, the revenue trends suggest that a favorable year-to-year compare may be masking impacts of public cloud adoption, which have accelerated through the pandemic.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2021, TBR expects the trend of favorable year-to-year compares to continue for hardware vendors as businesses gain confidence in resuming IT spend. Profitability will likely also remain strong as supply constraints on chips will lead to price premiums and a focus on selling high-end devices. The data center space will likely continue to benefit from pent-up demand, but will be offset to some degree by the ongoing trend of public cloud and SaaS adoption, leaving PCs to drive the largest OEM revenue increases in 2021.

New NTT Global Data Centers facilities in Chicago and Oregon solidify infrastructure footprint and position the vendor for continued growth

As part of parent company NTT’s July 2019 restructuring effort, a separate company called NTT Ltd. was formed, which unified 31 global brands to create a 40,000-person, $11 billion company dedicated to offering IT, cloud and colocation services to large enterprises. At the center of NTT Ltd.’s strategy is NTT Global Data Centers, a separate division that offers a portfolio of global data center assets including RagingWire (Americas), NTT Communications (APAC), e-shelter and Gyron (EMEA), and Netmagic (India). With over 160 facilities, NTT Global Data Centers is now the third largest global data center provider.

Americas expansion to support NTT Ltd.’s growth in 2021

On Feb. 25, NTT Global Data Centers held a virtual event to unveil its two new data centers, in Hillsboro, Ore. (HI1), and Chicago (CH1). Both CH1 and HI1 are currently 36 megawatts (MW) but are expected to expand to 76MW and 126MW, respectively, to support increasingly complex IT workloads for both hyperscale and enterprise customers. NTT’s roots in telecommunications allow it to provide a broad portfolio of carrier-neutral connectivity options within each data center. Meanwhile the company’s IT services arm is also strong with offerings such as Remote Hands, which removes the need for on-site service and maintenance and has been in high demand during COVID-19.

The establishment of HI1 and CH1 marks the beginning of NTT Global Data Centers’ Americas expansion efforts for 2021. The company plans to open a campus in Silicon Valley, break ground in Phoenix, and expand its campus in Ashburn, Va., while the attach of various connectivity products and managed services will continue to support growth throughout the year. In a company press release, Doug Adams, CEO of NTT Global Data Centers Americas, highlighted the openings in the context of plans for the year, which he stated “will be a year like no other for our division, and opening these two new data centers is just the beginning [of] efforts that underline our commitment to put our clients at the center and bring data center services to key data center markets across the Americas.”

New data centers are strategically placed to address varied client needs

As the colocation market in the U.S. becomes increasingly crowded, NTT Global Data Centers expands in strategic markets to support its retail and wholesale colocation strategies and address the needs of clients regardless of size. This includes pursuing markets with access to affordable sources, low risk of natural disaster and the ability to support connections to emerging markets, among other factors.

NTT Global Data Centers supports 100% renewable energy

As technology sustainability remains a top-of-mind concern for CTOs, NTT Global Data Centers continues to operate on a message of clean energy and efficiency. Specifically, the new HI1 facility is an appealing option for customers looking to consume renewable energy options, while the new campus has earned a Level 3 certification from the Cleaner Air Oregon program, setting NTT Global Data Centers apart from competitors as it is the only data center in the region to receive the certification to date.

Local cost-saving opportunities support lower TCO for customers

One of the key attractions of NTT Global Data Centers’ CH1 facility is access to state and local tax incentives on equipment. Additionally, CH1 is powered by local energy company Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), which offers electricity at rates ComEd states are 18% lower rates than the national average. These initiatives are designed to support lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for customers through cheaper electricity, sales tax exemptions and lower cooling requirements.

Subsea cabling

NTT Global Data Centers has targeted the Pacific Northwest with HI1 due to accessibility to subsea cables that can connect across regions. With HI1, locally housed customers have an opportunity to access strategic markets in Japan as NTT Communications acquired Pacific Crossing for its subsea cable in 2009, supporting data communication between the U.S. and Japan. This connection with HI1 allows customers to contract with NTT Global Data Centers on a single cable and eliminates the need for multiple contracts, underscoring NTT Global Data Centers’ approach of leveraging parent company NTT to support clients. TBR believes NTT Communications’ strong foothold in Japan will boost NTT Global Data Centers’ ability to provide customers with low-latency connections between two emerging markets, serving as a growth driver and offering differentiation from other colocation peers.

Market disruption creates HCI opportunity as customers look to consolidate data center footprints

Market disruption creates HCI opportunity as customers look to consolidate data center footprints

Insights

Digital transformation increases the volume of data collected and processed by organizations, making IT environments more complex to manage. Hybrid cloud is often the answer to this challenge, and many hybrid cloud environments leverage HCI as the underlying infrastructure for private cloud instances.

Microsoft’s play in the HCI market allows customers to keep their hardware vendor, unlike AWS Outposts. This is appealing to customers that have already selected a major hardware vendor but seek the flexibility of hybrid cloud.

TBR’s Hyperconverged & Converged Market Landscape provides a high-level view of both markets, including key trends, recent alliance and acquisition activity, and analysis of the customer adoption cycle, including total market data. This report’s unique differentiator is its inclusion of nine deep-dive vendor profiles. This report largely focuses on which vendors are leaders, laggards and up-and-comers in the hyperconverged and converged markets, providing deep analysis into which vendors are differentiating themselves and how. TBR’s Hyperconverged Platforms Customer Research, which surveys 400 decision makers annually, addresses hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) vendors’ customer-centric questions, drilling down into key categories such as adoption and budget, purchase drivers, workloads and attributes, purchase patterns, and vendor selection.

COVID-19 necessitates data center investments, becoming a catalyst for digital transformation

COVID-19 shifts data center market demands as customers leverage the cloud to meet swift transformation needs

In 2020 IT decision makers around the world moved into highly reactive and tactical modes to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on their businesses, and data centers had to be provisioned rapidly for remote activities across all elements of the business stack, including IT. Although businesses’ initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic boosted certain on-premises provisioning, it also delayed large, services-laden transformation engagements. Economic uncertainty and uneven industry sector impact also saw some IT instances pivot to cash conservation. IT infrastructure vendors held strong against the murky IT backdrop, although some business shifted to ODMs more aligned to serving exascale cloud companies at the expense of more traditional or legacy technologies.

TBR believes this trend will continue through 2021. COVID-19 accelerated existing macro trends toward cloud-delivered technologies leveraging automation to strip away person-to-person contact from commerce. AI and machine learning (ML) will pull infrastructure along and push infrastructure deployments further to the edge.

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is the multifunctional building block for a lot of IT instances. HCI can sit at the ever-growing edge or in departmental or branch office data centers, and it can be used for modular scaling of private cloud deployments whether on premises or in colocation facilities. HCI growth, coupled with further cloud migration, pressures legacy and more traditional IT infrastructure. 

AI growth persists. Definition increases as emerging technologies become applicable to general use. Vendors and customers alike seek AI automation to strip labor’s hollow calories from all elements of business commerce and IT support. All these aspirations hinge on tight data governance rules and human compliance with those rules when putting data into the automation engine. That tight wrapper for consistent, shared information flows can be achieved through blockchain, described by EY Blockchain Head Paul Brody as the ERP equivalent for multienterprise business networks. 

This vision of the digital world also acknowledges the need for a new data engine to analyze the data and derive new insights to advance all elements of human existence. Quantum computing will be that new engine, and its performance will be to classical computing what the jet plane was to propeller airplanes. TBR expects 2021 to be a year with significant discoveries that push quantum computing further down the path to economic advantage. If deep scientific thought and “what if” analysis happen only when the world’s greatest minds can pursue their natural inquisitiveness, then it could be that COVID-19 generates the requisite science necessary for quantum computing to shift from discovery to emerging commercial application.

2021 data center predictions

  • Investments in 1H20 to modernize IT to meet COVID-19 requirements will lead to reduced data center hardware spend in 2021
  • Quantum computing advancements will persist, leading to an increase in M&A activity to consolidate capabilities
  • COVID-19 increases the presence of HCI in modern data centers

Technology Business Research 2021 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud & software, telecom, devices & commercial IoT, data center, and services & digital.

COVID-19 necessitates data center investments, becoming a catalyst for digital transformation

Like the rest of the world, IT decision makers have been moving into a highly reactive and tactical mode in 2020 to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on the businesses they underpin. TBR believes the ripple effect of these decisions will continue through 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated macro trends toward cloud technologies that leverage automation to reduce person-to-person contact in economic commerce. AI and machine learning will pull infrastructure along and similarly push the infrastructure deployments further to the edge, while reinforcing the need for investment in emerging technologies to solve pain points that existing technologies cannot address.​

Join Stephanie Long and Geoff Woollacott as they dive into the impacts of COVID-19 on the data center market thus far and how they predict the impacts will evolve during 2021.

Don’t miss:

  • How 1H20 investments in modernizing the data center to meet COVID-19 mandates will reduce data center hardware spend in 2021
  • COVID-19 increases the need for edge deployments
  • Quantum computing advancements persist, leading to an increase in M&A activity to consolidate capabilities

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, at 1 p.m. EST,
and REGISTER to reserve your space.

TBR webinars are held typically on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. ET and include a 15-minute Q&A session following the main presentation. Previous webinars can be viewed anytime on TBR’s Webinar Portal.

For additional information or to arrange a briefing with our analysts, please contact TBR at [email protected].