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HPC Site Budget Allocation Map: Industry Averages

by Addison Snell, Christopher G. Willard, Ph.D., Laura Segervall, Debra Goldfarb
for Intersect360 Research (originally published under the Tabor Research name)
November 2008

Tabor Research surveyed the High Productivity Computing user community to complete its second Site Budget Allocation Map, a look at how HPC sites divide and spend their budgets. We surveyed users on their spending in seven top-level categories: hardware, software, facilities, staffing, services, utility computing, and other. Each category was further divided into constituent subcategories, resulting in 25 unique items included in the analysis (excluding “Other” categories). This report contains the key data, along with analysis, conclusions, and guidance.

This initial report provides the average budget distribution for the responding sites within each category and provides a view of the entire HPC budget distribution and IT Product spending (excludes facilities and staffing). Future reports will analyze the data by economic sector, budget ranges, and estimate the additional revenue that participants said were not in their budget.

Important statistical highlights from this study include:

  • The average HPC site spent about 40% of its HPC budget on hardware. Servers lead in this category, followed by storage and networks.
  • Staffing continued as the second-largest overall expense and grew by 3%, despite a higher proportion of low-end budgets in the mix versus our 2007 survey.
  • Utility Computing appeared for the first time with 3% share. This category is more or less synonymous with Cloud Computing.
  • Servers and storage combined accounted for slightly more than one-third of the HPC budget distribution and 50% share of the IT product budget as provided by respondents in this study. All other items individually represented less than 10%.
  • About two-thirds (64%) of the respondents expect budgets to increase over the next two years. Almost three-quarters (72%) of these expected increases to be at least 10%, while almost half (48%) expect an increase of more than 20%.

The economic turmoil in the last few months has added uncertainty into the HPC market. Even though the survey was completed in September 2008, users were still optimistic about budget growth. At this time, Tabor Research continues to be cautiously optimistic about the next two years. Historically, the HPC market has been relatively immune to the economic downturns due to its close ties with core R&D and business activities. Although growth will most likely slow in 2009, the pattern over the two-year period is still expected to show growth. However, should economic conditions worsen, even the most immune industries will see an impact.

As we did last year, Tabor Research continues to urge vendors to pursue market strategies based on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). As economic times toughen, we expect more users to focus on improving productivity at a lower TCO. While server sales still account for the greatest percentage of budgets, vendors should look beyond the servers.

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