6 Revealing Revelations On Data Center Spending

Data Center Domination

Enterprises and service providers spent $114 billion last year on the hardware and software they needed to build out their modern data centers.

Data center infrastructure is an expansive market that includes servers, server operating systems, storage, networking, network security, virtualization applications and just about any computing technology under the sun.

It’s a market dominated by industry giants, and one undergoing tectonic shifts thanks to the boom in cloud computing, which Synergy Research founder Jeremy Duke said is "the single biggest driver of spend."

Synergy Research broke down the numbers to see what vendors were reaping the lion's share of those investments.

More Money

Total spend on data center infrastructure over the past four fiscal quarters was up 6 percent compared with the previous year, according to Synergy Research.

Breaking that down to individual segments, some of the highest growth was seen in virtualization applications, server OS, blade servers and storage applications.

While more than three-fourths of the current investment goes toward buying hardware, the latest data shows software actually accounts for much of the overall industry growth.

Software Surging

Software may still be the much smaller component of the overall market, but that's changing as the software-defined data center becomes more of a reality.

While the total infrastructure spend increased by 6 percent, sales of software -- from operating systems to security applications to tools to virtualization applications -- jumped by 14 percent.

The hardware/software split went from 79/21 to 77/23 over the past two years, according to Synergy.

Microsoft And VMware Dominant

The world's largest software company is by far the largest supplier of software to data centers.

Microsoft has a 72 percent hold on the market, according to Synergy.

VMware comes in a distant second with a 17 percent slice of the pie.

The remaining 11 percent of the market for data center software is divided up pretty evenly -- no vendor has really asserted itself and won more than a 2 percent share.

Companies with somewhere between 1 and 2 percent of the software market include Oracle, IBM, NetApp, EMC, Red Hat and Citrix, according to Synergy.

Hardware Still King

While the hardware spend grew by only 4 percent from the previous year, procuring servers, storage arrays, networking devices and other physical components is still where 77 percent of the money spent by enterprises and service providers went over the past four quarters.

The Hardware Battleground

Hewlett-Packard remains the dominant player in selling hardware to data centers, owning 19 percent of the overall market.

Cisco and Dell follow, each with a 12 percent share; IBM has 11 percent and EMC rounds out the top five with 8 percent.

Lenovo and NetApp both have 3 percent of the market, according to Synergy.

It's worth noting that halfway through the period being evaluated, IBM sold its x86 product line to Lenovo. So Big Blue gets credit for two quarters of x86 sales, and the Chinese manufacturer gets credit for another two.

Oracle, Fujitsu and Hitachi trail the pack.

Clouding The Matter

The greatest force these days in data center infrastructure is the cloud.

But John Dinsdale, Synergy's chief analyst, points out that despite the intense industry and media focus, almost half of business investments in data centers still go to traditional, non-cloud technologies.

"That part of the data center market remains enormous and will remain a prime source of revenue for vendors for many years to come,’ Dinsdale said.