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Issue of June 2005 

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Enterprise Hardware

Strengthening the foundations

Most enterprises have made sizeable investments in hardware. Some of them are now upgrading to reliable, cost-effective solutions. Shivani Shinde reports

For many organisations, investments in hardware have dropped considerably. Compared to last year's investment by 76 percent of respondents, this year, just about 66 percent of will invest in hardware.

Gigabit on the desktop will become a necessity, especially for applications such as VoIP and video conferencing

However, this does not mean that overall expenditure on hardware has come down. What it means is that organisations have been able to leverage their existing systems to meet their growing needs. That said, IT investments are rising.

Server-side story

Executive Summary
Strengthening the foundations

Enterprises want to get moreout of existing hardware investments. The adoption of new technologies such as 64-bit operating systems and gigabit Ethernet is complemented by a focus on optimising existing investments.

Power pill

Dipping IT spends are a pointer to more effective utilisation of existing resources. Organisations are also looking at maintenance and strategic upgrades.

In terms of servers, most organisations prefer the Windows Server and have no plans to shift. Among those using Windows NT/2000, many plan to migrate to Windows 2003 or have already done so.

Windows 2000 has been deployed by 74 percent of respondents. 36 percent plan to invest in Windows 2000 during this fiscal. The telecom industry takes the lead here with at least 67 percent of respondents planning to invest in Windows 2000 servers during 2005-06.

Many have shifted to Windows 2003. During 2004-05, 39 percent of respondents were using Windows 2003. In 2005-06, 42 percent intend to deploy Windows 2003. Organisations which are still using Windows NT are also planning to shift to Windows 2003 during this fiscal.

An increase in gigabit Ethernet adoption will lead to cheaper switches. With the infrastructure already in place, it will be easier to handle gigabit networks and boost application performance

It is interesting that many companies continue to use Windows NT and have no intention of ditching it for a later version. For instance, Hindustan Lever (HLL) has Windows NT servers that have been running on four-year old hardware. HLL will, however, shift to Windows 2003 depending upon application compatibility. On the other hand, Wockhardt was using Windows NT earlier; it has now migrated to Windows 2000 and 2003.

The choice of server OS depends on the criticality of functions. For instance, Wockhardt is using Windows 2000/2003 and Unix-based servers for various applications depending upon their criticality. Thus their mailing system is on Windows 2000/2003, and proxy servers are on Linux. For hosting its business database, Wockhardt uses Unix (AIX and Solaris) and Unix (Solaris) for its firewall.

Linux moves up

If Windows remains a favourite with many, Linux is slowly making inroads in the enterprise sector. 32 percent of the respondents plan to deploy it

If Windows remains a favourite with many, Linux is slowly making inroads into the enterprise sector as well. 32 percent of the respondents are planning to deploy it.

Suresh Shenoy, VP-IT, Wockhardt says, "One of the reasons for Linux gaining ground is due to its performance and reliability over Windows." Wockhardt uses 64-bit Power 4 and 5 processor-based servers to host its databases and it runs these on 64-bit Linux or Unix.

Suresh Shenoy
VP-IT, Wockhardt

Users cite adaptability of the operating system and application integration as the reasons for preferring Windows Server vis-a-vis Linux.

K G Mohan

Although Unix-based servers do not generate the same level of interest as Windows or even Linux, many still believe that Unix provides a reliable computing environment. The platform is seen as the default choice for running high-end or transaction-oriented applications. For instance, Unix is used at HLL for running ERP, planning, data warehousing, etc. K G Mohan, VP-IT, HLL believes that Unix servers provide more robust, reliable and secure environment for running mission-critical applications.

Research Snapshot
  • The number of organisations investing in hardware has come down
  • Windows 2003 is the preferred OS with more companies planning to deploy it rather than Windows 2000 this fiscal
  • 58 percent of respondents plan to invest in notebooks in 2005-06

Many organisations are in the process of deploying 64-bit processors. However this transition has been slow. For instance, although HLL is using 64-bit hardware, it continues to use 32-bit servers. "We are testing some of our applications on 64-bit Windows 2003," says K G Mohan.

GBE picks up steam

To improve productivity and efficiency enterprises are adopting new technologies.
The demand for gigabit Ethernet (GbE) is a reflection of this trend

In case of networking, PCs and workstations are of prime concern of many organisations. Though the investments have come down as compared to the last fiscal, it is still on the higher side.

Every enterprise has made investments in workstations and PCs. 74 percent of the organisations plan to invest in these during this fiscal year. Windows 2000 and XP remains to be the most common PC operating systems.

LAN connectivity is another area where investments are rising. Although 93 percent have already invested in LANs, it's the second highest priority in networking for the coming year with 66 percent planning to invest in it. Switches, routers and hubs continue to remain hot favourites.

With top business priorities such as production and capacity expansion and improving productivity and efficiency, enterprises are looking to adopt new technologies for achieving the same. For instance, gigabit Ethernet (GbE) will see increased demand among Indian enterprises. Arun Gupta, Senior Director for Business Technology, Pfizer, feels that application demands will drive adoption of gigabit Ethernet. Shenoy believes that as gigabit Ethernet adoption increases, it will also lead to switches becoming cheaper. Since the infrastructure is already in place, it will be easier to handle gigabit networks to boost application performance.

HLL has already started using gigabit Ethernet for server connectivity and fast Ethernet (100 Mbps) for desktop connectivity. Mohan believes that gigabit on the desktop will become a necessity, especially for applications such as VoIP and video conferencing.

NM recommends
  • For organisations running Windows, deploying Windows 2003 on new servers is a good idea. Migrating from Windows 2000 should be considered on a case-by-case basis. For organisations running NT4, it is time to move
  • When investing in LANs, do not go in for anything lesser than gigabit Ethernet and Cat 6 cabling
  • 64-bit Wintel and Lintel servers are a good idea for fresh deployments, particularly with 64-bit x86 hardware from both Intel and AMD
  • Dual core desktops are entering the market. This is the time to pilot them for users who run demanding applications or find their present systems to be unresponsive

Shivani Shinde can be reached at

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