COMMON Europe: Doing the Math on Top i Concerns
June 22, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
COMMON Europe, the European affiliation of midrange user groups for i communities in various countries, has closed out its annual Top Concerns survey and has some initial results that it wants to share with readers of The Four Hundred. The Top Concerns survey ran from the beginning of April through the end of May and was designed to get a sense of the issues that i shops all over the world–not just in Europe–are concerned with in these trying days.
For all of the readers of The Four Hundred who saw the solicitations to participate in the survey in the newsletter and took the time to do so, I would like to convey my thanks, and so does COMMON Europe. All told, some 547 people from end user companies, resellers, and independent software vendors, and even from IBM took the survey, which is a fairly high response rate for any kind of survey in the IT space.
A survey is, of course, only as good as its questions when it comes to taking the pulse of a market or opinion on one issue or another. According to Ranga Deshpande, Top Concerns project leader at COMMON Europe, here’s how the Top Concerns stacked up, in order:
You can see an executive summary of the Top Concerns data here and read the statement accompanying the results here. You will notice that the data is a bit skewed toward Europe, but you would expect that sort of thing.
Not on the original survey list, but penciled in (well, typed in) by survey respondents, were the following issues the i community wanted to address:
It would have been interesting to see where these three, and the other write-in concerns, would have placed in the survey had they been part of the original set. My guess? Pretty far up on the list, knowing AS/400 shops like I do.
The interesting part of the Top Concerns 2009 survey had to do with the IT budgets at i shops, and COMMON Europe provided some enlightening quantitative data here. Of those responding to the survey, 39 percent said that they have cut their IT budgets in 2009, with only 9 percent increasing, 8 percent stable, and 44 percent saying that they didn’t know. I don’t know if this is statistically valid, but I think the 44 percent who don’t know should be disqualified from this category of questioning. And if you do that, then 70 percent of the i shops that know the state of their 2009 IT budgets have cut them, 16 percent have increased spending, and 14 percent are the same. I have forgotten everything I ever knew about statistics, but if you don’t know, you don’t know, you know? (The raw data is in the executive summary mentioned above, so you can get that there.)
As for new project investment, COMMON Europe’s Top Concerns 2009 survey shows that 40 percent of those polled have cut their spending, 12 percent have increased spending, 11 percent are stable, and 37 percent don’t know. Again, if you don’t know, you don’t know, and if you shake those people out of the question, what you get is a little more than 63 percent of i shops saying they have cut funds for new projects, 19 percent saying they have increased spending in this area, and a little more than 17 percent saying their spending is the same.
On the upgrade front, COMMON Europe presented similar raw information about plans to upgrade to i 6.1, Power Systems iron, and blade servers, and I have rejiggered the numbers to shake out the people who are not i users who participated in the survey (not sure why they were left in), as well as those who say they don’t know. (If they don’t know, they don’t know.) If you do that, then 10.4 percent of those surveyed who use the platform and who know what is going on have already upgraded to i 6.1, while another 4.8 percent have it on order and 32.6 percent have it planned. Some 52.1 percent don’t have plans to upgrade to i 6.1 yet. (Remember, COMMON’s percentages as reported in its press release and the executive summary will be lower because they didn’t shake out the irrelevant data.)
On the hardware side, 30.1 percent of those polled who are actually using the platform have upgraded to a Power Systems box, by which I presume users meant they mean both Power6 and Power6+ iron, anything since the July 2007 initial launch through the new machines that came out in April of this year. Another 2 percent of those polled said they had a machine on order, which fits with the dearth of deals that Power Systems i resellers have been telling me they are trying to make a living on. About 16.3 percent of those polled said they have a Power Systems i box planned, and 51.4 percent said they had no plans for one yet. (Again, these are TPM-adjusted figured to shake out the aberrant data, which I think skews the results.)
COMMON Europe asked survey respondents about their plans to move to blade servers, and with the TPM-adjusted figures, again shaking out those who are not on any i platform and who don’t know, then 3.6 percent of those answering the Top Concerns survey said they have moved to blade-based Power Systems i configurations (presumably for some but not necessarily all of their workloads, but the survey was not clear), and another 1.7 percent having blades on order. Another 7 percent say they have plans for i-based blades, and 87.7 percent saying they have not yet got plans to use i blades. On this question, more than a third of the respondents said they were not i users or had no idea, and this data can’t be left in the mix because it really shrinks the numbers, particularly the large number of users who don’t have any plans to move to blades based on this data.
COMMON Europe did a separate Top Academic Concerns survey for those participating in IBM’s Academic Initiative program, and 48 students and professors responded to this separate survey. As you might expect, students want free or discounted certification on the System i, as well as access to used equipment that Big Blue might otherwise destroy as part of an upgrade or system swap, free access to conferences for students, and better access through the Web for product demos and training on the i platform. It is hard to argue with these points.