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What's driving the ongoing transition to lower business technology spending?

Accomplish much more, very rapidly, while spending less -- this is the business technology trend that savvy executives everywhere have embraced. Worldwide IT spending will reach a total $3.7 trillion in 2014, that's a 2.1 percent increase from last year, according to the latest global market study by Gartner.

This forecast, however, is down from their earlier projections of 3.2 percent growth.

What's driving the ongoing transition to lower business technology spending? The slower outlook for 2014 is attributed to a reduction in growth expectations for end-user devices, data center systems and IT related services.

Moreover, the typical IT investment is evolving. It's transitioning from a legacy focus on technology and processes, to a focus on new business models and associated strategic outcomes that are purposefully enabled by digitalization.

Transition within Enterprise Mobile Devices
The IT end-user devices market -- which includes PCs, ultrabooks, smartphones, tablets and printers -- is forecast to grow in 2014, reaching $685 billion -- that's a 1.2 percent increase from 2013.

According to Gartner's assement, this trend is due in part to lower price points across smartphones and tablets. Besides, sales of high-priced tablets will decrease, with the next wave of adopters more attracted to low-priced utility tablets.

"Price pressure based on increased competition, lack of product differentiation and the increased availability of viable alternative solutions has had a dampening effect on the short term IT spending outlook," said Richard Gordon, managing vice president at Gartner.

Transition within the Enterprise Data Center
Cloud computing is already impacting traditional business technology spending patterns. Data center systems spending is projected to reach $140 billion in 2014 -- that's just a 0.4 percent increase from 2013.

The server market also shows weakness as enterprises migrate away from high-cost platforms toward lower-cost alternatives. Furthermore, the ongoing adoption of Hybrid Cloud solutions will increasingly become a factor in shifting budget allocations. It's enabling the frugal and agile DevOps movement.

The hyperscale segment, primarily driven by consumer-oriented services, does provide some positive drivers to the market -- albeit for very low-cost platforms, which further impacts overall spending levels on data center systems.

Transition within IT Services, Software and Telecom
IT services is forecast to total $967 billion in 2014, up 3.8 percent from 2013. Modestly improved spending is expected through 2014. IT outsourcing is growing slower than anticipated, as sharply reduced pricing by the largest vendors is impacting the cloud storage services market.

In addition, public cloud services are proving increasingly cannibalistic to more traditional data center outsourcing services. Implementation services are also growing slower than expected as risk-averse buyers remain focused on smaller, safer projects.

In the enterprise software market, spending is on pace to total $321 billion -- that's a 6.9 percent increase from 2013. Slightly increased growth expectations for infrastructure software are balanced out by slightly lower growth expected for applications software.

Slower growth is expected in the applications market, specifically office suites and digital content creation (DCC), which are being impacted by slow PC sales and the rapid move to cloud-based offerings by many organizations and professionals.

Telecom services spending is projected to grow 0.7 percent in 2014, with spending reaching $1,635 trillion. Voice average revenue per user (ARPU) will decline by about 10 percent annually through 2018 because of a decline in consumer use of voice services -- particularly among prepaid mobile users.

More Stories By David H Deans

David H. Deans is the Managing Director at the GeoActive Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in the Technology, Media and Telecom sectors.