European IT Resources Underutilized

According to a new Oracle report, fully 50 percent of European companies do not know the load under which their IT infrastructures operate and those that do report only about a 60 percent server capacity utilization rate.

These numbers compare favorably with U.S. IT infrastructure utilization rates, said Mark Melenovsky, an infrastructure and server hardware analyst with IDC.

“It varies dramatically depending on work load,” he said. “If you survey a pretty sizable enterprise and look at their data center they probably have a mix of all of those systems (mainframe, file servers, Web servers, application servers, etc.) and I suppose it balances out. (But) sixty percent is pretty good.”

Oracle commissioned the study, which was conducted by U.K.-based Quocirca, in order to gain visibility into European IT operations and obtain relevant information for its new grid computing initiative, Oracle 10g, said Oracle’s Tim Payne, senior director, Technology, EMEA region.

“The real point of the research was to understand how customers were using their computer resources and, by moving to grid computing, how customers could save money or actually utilize better the hardware they have already,” he said.

Oracle defines grid computing as the sharing of computing resources across a cluster of networked computers in order to tap unused computing resources and reduce IT overhead while taking advantage of the latest server technology, said Payne.

While still in its infancy as a enterprise solution, Melenovsky said, grid computing will at some point become a more mature solution for IT managers looking to reduce server management overhead. With this in mind, Oracle’s efforts to establish an early lead in the space makes sense.

“If you can get more utilization out of the server then potentially you have less servers to manage and that’s the pain-point you want to reduce: the cost of hiring all these IS managers and deploying updates and making sure that infrastructure is up and running all the time. If you can get utilization up … then you can reduce your costs,” he said. “I think Oracle’s got the vision down on where the industry is headed.”

The survey, which polled 307 companies in eight countries and 10 industries also found that nearly half of all European companies are considering grid computing in one form or another. The top two areas under consideration are enterprise-wide applications like ERP and CRM, and database consolidation and integration.

In 2002, European companies shelled out $15 billion for new servers. With grid computing, said Payne, Oracle estimates companies could save almost $5 billion in new server purchases.