While the overall outlook for IT spending in 2006 was austere, enterprises are making significant new investments in hardware, according to Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR). In its report ¿The State Of Enterprise Infrastructure In Europe 2006,¿ Forrester sets out how servers and PCs continue to dominate IT spending, accounting for more than half the IT hardware budget. In terms of infrastructure projects, disaster recovery, security, and compliance are top of mind, while enterprises are also reducing complexity in their server environments, leading to a healthy growth in server and storage virtualization technologies. Data center automation and business service management projects are increasing in importance.

Forrester’s research shows that nearly one-third of the IT budget is spent on enterprise hardware and maintenance, including servers, PC storage, and networking. Within the enterprise hardware category, PCs and servers each account for more than 25% of the spending, followed by storage at 18%, network hardware at 15%, and systems management at 14%.

In contrast to the overall IT budget ¿ where 79% of the investment goes to ongoing operations and maintenance ¿ firms are spending nearly 31% of their hardware budgets on new investments. Hardware prices continue to fall across the board, and firms are clearly still taking advantage of higher-performance systems at prices lower than ever before.

Forrester analyst, Peter O¿Neill, says: ¿HP leads as the preferred server vendor in more than half of the enterprises, and 60% of the firms surveyed only have one server setup. Of these, more than two-thirds are unlikely to change their supplier in the next two years, which makes the European server market quite challenging for vendors with growth strategies that involve displacing incumbent suppliers.¿

Disaster Recovery, Security, And Consolidation Are Still Top Of Mind

Disaster recovery, security, and consolidation of IT infrastructure remain the top three priorities for the next 12 months. These are the projects driving the hardware spend described above. Fifty-six percent of firms point to purchasing or upgrading their disaster recovery capabilities and significantly upgrading their security environment. Firms also continue to struggle with complexity in their server environments. Fifty-two percent of the firms surveyed rank the goal of reducing the number and variety of server configurations as either very important or important, while 43% feel the same way about reducing the number of OS varieties and configurations.

Server Virtualization Is Taking Off

In keeping with the goal of reducing the number and variety of server hardware and OS configurations, a healthy 23% of firms are using server virtualization and more than 25% are either piloting it (12%) or interested in it (16%) ¿ far exceeding the interest and use of computer grids. Nearly 25% of the firms, however, are not yet aware of server virtualization and even more ¿ 38% of firms ¿ are not aware of computing grid technology. Forrester analyst Frank Gillett comments: ¿The higher adoption rate of server virtualization shows it has more applicability to the needs of enterprises than grid computing, but vendors still have their marketing work cut out for them to raise the rates of awareness and interest.¿

The report mentioned in this release, ¿The State Of Enterprise Infrastructure In Europe 2006¿, is available to Forrester WholeView2TM clients.