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Connect confirms IT recession is receding

Connect, the HP enterprise computer user group, released results of a survey at the HP Technology Forum that show a majority of members and HP users believe the IT economy is already rebounding.

The survey of 103 community members, conducted through the Connect myCommunity website, reports that 60 percent of the respondents said they are "moving from recession to recovery, increasing IT spending." Slightly fewer members surveyed, 56 percent, reported they have plans to invest in new servers or have already begun to upgrade server farms.

The Connect membership is centered in the small- to midsize company, those with annual revenues of under $500 million, according to immediate past president Nina Buik. She said the survey was completed on June 15, in preparation for this week's Technology Forum. But another set of questions on the survey were designed to test the waters for HP's Converged Infrastructure offers of this week. Product releases are built around this concept of reducing IT sprawl through creating efficiencies.

The user group prides itself as being the voice of an important part of the enterprise community. Buik said this focused survey provided HP the input on how accepted the Converged Infrastructure might be.

"It was really important for us to understand where are members are," she said. "We asked them a few questions in terms of Converged Infrastructure," including how many are embracing the architecture or want to know more about it.

The survey reports that 67 percent of respondents have either moved to such an architecture or are just beginning a move. And 56 percent are "either totally on board with HP's Converged Infrastructure or would like to learn more about it," according to a Connect backgrounder on the results.

Nearly all respondents to the survey, 91 percent, think that the industry is moving toward such an architecture, or it is likely to do so. Benefits -- which Buik said the user group translates "from marketing adjectives to member verbs -- were listed as flexibility, followed by lower costs of acquisition and implementation.

The survey even asked about barriers to adopting Converged Infrastructure, in part to give HP insight on how to push the solution across the threshold of customers' analysis. Barriers they listed that would prevent them from implementing:

• Fear of high costs (37 percent)
• Worries regarding risks to current applications/operations (35 percent)
• The belief that current processes would be too difficult to change (32 percent)

Cost issues, as well as the difficulties in change of business processes, are among the chief reasons the HP 3000 community is adopting homesteading as a longer term plan. But even the storage aspects of Converged Infrastructure could benefit a 3000 shop with a mixed environment. HP was gathering its own responses at this week's conference, which Buik was estimated would attract 5,000 to 5,500 total attendees -- including all HP employees, conference exhibitor staff, presenters and customers. That's an increase over the 3,500 that attended the 2009 show, she added.

Even community members who are not attending will be engaging with professional help to maximize IT potential, some sparked by the HP messages of this week. According to the survey, 82 percent of the respondents "felt that it is really important to have trained professionals help with installation, configuration, integration and testing."

IT budgets are rebounding, recovering from two years of tight spending, Buik added. "“It's encouraging to see organizations increasing their IT spending after what has been two tumultuous years. immediate past president, Connect. “One of the best things about Connect is the unique opportunity for our members to share best practices and participate in on-going trainings so they can make the most informed decisions when investing or implementing new technologies.”

Connect's leaders also want to point to the group's website as a key in staying -- well, connected with user needs. 80 webinars are scheduled for this year. The heartland of its membership uses the OpenVMS and NonStop environments, staying involved with Connect because there's no other resource that fits as well. There are plans for Connect events to serve these two markets in 2010, including the OpenVMS Boot Camp that's been held for more than a decade. HP-UX users have a Special Interest Group. But storage, a large part of the Converged Infrastructure message, is also key to the group's relationship with the market.

"Connect has a strong focus on the OpenVMS, Non-Stop and storage communities," said president Chris Koppe. "We are proud to bring our members a place where they can come together to discuss specific technologies as well as network with peers who have similar interests. As the community continues to grow, we hope to strengthen these conferences as well as introduce new events around various technologies of interest to our community."