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Friday, September 05, 2008

Gartner Spells Out Changing Tech Scenarios

The coming few years will feature continued consolidation, financial pressures and changes to the hardware business, requiring different IT strategies for the future than what people have been using in the past.  IT consultancy Gartner made these predictions during its Hardware Insight conference here Thursday.  Employees of firms like Intel, HP and Sun listened to presentations that often focused on where their companies may be headed in the coming years.  Some of the usual trends will continue, like market consolidation.  Research Vice President Roger Cox noted that 85 percent of the storage business is in the hands of seven vendors, and “they are not advancing the technology.

It’s the startups that are bringing out new, innovative products, and will likely be acquired, he said.

In the next four years, Gartner sees continued consolidation of vendors, consolidation of servers through virtualization, a move toward green IT, an expansion of cloud computing and “hardware as a service”—i.e. hardware rental.  Green IT won’t be just confined to the U.S., it will be a global effort.  Gartner estimates two percent of worldwide carbon emissions are attributable to IT.  “IT vendors are seen as part of the problem, so it will be necessary to get your house in order,” said Cox.  Even though it is viewed as an emerging market with a much smaller IT infrastructure than the U.S., China is already concerned with power consumption and the government is coming up with guidelines on for businesses on power consumption policies.

Gartner Research Director George Shiffler then spoke of hardware spending as it relates to the economy.  He ate some crow and admitted Gartner’s earlier predictions of a downturn in sales due to economic conditions didn’t manifest.

Citing research from the financial analysis firm Global Insight, Shiffler said there could be a notable drop in spending in the U.S. and Europe, which would result in slowdowns in sales in the second half of this yearand the first half of next year.  However, it’s a slowdown, not a plunge like after the dot com bubble popped.  The server market has to deal with a number of changes all at once: the economy, the decline of RISC and ascension of x86, the game changers that are virtualization and cloud computing, and the drop in average selling prices (ASPs).

Gartner believes cloud computing could be a disruptive force in the market, particularly for server vendors, and that server vendors will need to target a range of external and Web datacenter providers as customers try to avoid making commitments and go to pay as you go cloud services.

On the desktop side of things, Principal Research Analyst Mikako Kitagawa said that soon, China will surpass the U.S. as the single largest PC market.  The reason for that is the U.S. is a “highly saturated” market, where people own two and three and four PCs, and much of the business is in upgrades and replacements.  China is still growing as a market and has not reached saturation.  HP and Dell combined hold about 55 percent of the total market, with Apple coming in third with around 10 percent of the market, and the best annual growth rate of 37.9 percent quarter-over-quarter.

Gartner is predicting mini-notebooks, also sometimes called netbooks, will ramp up significantly, led by ASUSTeK, with its popular Eee-PC.  Mini-notebooks will be a consumer phenomenon, with 89.1 percent of sales in 2Q08 going to consumers.  ASUS had 50 percent of the market in that quarter, but that might get spread around a little with the entry of more players, including Dell.  Worldwide, Gartner expects mini-notebooks to hit more than 50 million units by 2012 under the best case scenario and around 25 million units under a most likely scenario.

http://www.internetnews.com/hardware/article.php/3769666

Posted on 09/05
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