Oracle unveiled the results of the latest Oracle Grid Index research, which is dedicated to mapping the world's journey to Grid computing. At a global level, the Oracle Grid Index has risen to 5.2 from its previous value, in April, of 4.4. All of the underlying indices making up the overall Grid Index — Foundation Readiness, Knowledge & Interest and Adoption Lifecycle — show increases in all geographies, indicating steady progress of mainstream activity towards the implementation of modern dynamic information technology (IT) infrastructures.
As well as chronicling the Grid computing journey, the research illuminates strong links between business management and IT strategy. A key finding is that board-level involvement in IT strategy goes hand-in-hand with business success — 72 percent of organizations in which business executives are routinely involved in IT strategy are growing, compared to just half that number in which executives are never involved. Furthermore, there is strong evidence that executive involvement in IT strategy and planning leads to better alignment of objectives, priorities and activities which in turn leads to a higher proportion of IT budgets being spent on the creation of business value rather than simply housekeeping.
Examining the changes in Grid Index values from the previous instance (April 2005) reveal several notable facts.
- United States makes most progress. With a jump in Oracle Grid Index from 4.6 to 6.1, the United States shows the biggest rise in Index values, which brings it to join the Nordic countries as featuring the highest Index number. North America also shows the greatest jump in Lifecycle Adoption sub-indices, which indicates that actual adoption of Grid computing is progressing faster there.
- Top three remain unchanged. The Nordics, South-East Asia and the United States continue to lead the rest of the world on the Grid journey, with Oracle Grid Indices of 6.1, 5.9 and 6.1 respectively.
- Southern Europe and traditional Asian markets move slowest. While India has made a big jump, from 2.9 to 4.4, the other countries which showed lowest Grid Index figures in April 2005 have moved most slowly — Greater China from 4.7 to 4.9, Italy from 4.0 to 4.2, Korea from 4.4 to 4.7 and Spain from 4.2 to 4.5. Japan, included in this survey for the first time, makes its entrance at an Oracle Grid Index of 4.4.
- Early adopters go For enterprise Grid solutions. Informed IT professionals see Grid as being most relevant as part of their corporate IT infrastructure. Among the respondents, an “experienced guru” group highlights cluster Grids as being relevant to their organization in 44 percent of cases, and a possible option in a further 52 percent. Strength of feeling is even higher for distributed enterprise Grids, where the equivalent numbers are 69 percent and 29 percent. Far fewer see the firm relevance of managed hosted Grids (22 percent), utility Grid services (25 percent) and partner/community Grids (7 percent).
“All indicators in all regions show positive progress in the awareness, understanding and adoption of Grid computing,” said Robert Shimp, Oracle's vice president of technology marketing. “The research proves that increasing numbers of organizations around the globe are taking notice of this market- changing technology. It also underlines that more and more of them are taking action to derive benefit from it in the form of better usage of current IT assets and better positioning for the future.”
The research also examines the attitudes of organizations' business management towards IT. As well as a clear correlation between business growth and regular business management involvement in IT strategy, the research reveals that IT is increasingly being considered as a core part of business investment:
- Only 30 percent of organizations can rely on business executive input into IT strategy. Senior business managers tend to get involved with IT on an event driven basis, typically in reaction to something that has occurred in the business world that needs IT support, or when an IT related event such as the systems failure has a negative impact on the business. In the majority of organizations, IT appears to be thought of more as a service function than as an integral part of business operations.
- High business involvement in IT strategy is linked to better use of IT investment. Traditional wisdom has it that the vast majority of IT departments' workloads involve housekeeping and maintenance projects. However, in over 60 percent of those organizations where business management is always involved with IT strategy, over half of the IT expenditure relates to business projects. The other end of the spectrum does reflect the traditional wisdom, though; where there is no business involvement in IT strategy, nearly 90 percent of organizations use less than half of their IT spend on business projects.
- Business executives who are fully involved in IT strategy appreciate the need for sound infrastructure. In the 31 percent of organizations where IT departments can rely on input from business executives into IT strategy, over three quarters of the executives concerned fully appreciate the need for a sound IT infrastructure. At the other extreme, less than 15 percent of those business executives that have no involvement in IT strategy have a clear understanding of the role IT infrastructure plays.
“The Oracle Grid Index research has some important messages for business people everywhere,” Shimp continued. “The strong link that it shows between businesses which are growing and those whose executive management are always involved in IT strategy suggests that the board should regard IT as a strategic investment, not merely as a cost center.”
Comparison with previous Oracle Grid Index research shows continued strong growth in significant underlying technologies such as Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) and Blade Servers. Asia Pacific, whilst still lagging the other two regions surveyed in actual adoption numbers, has shown higher growth in both areas:
- Service Oriented Architectures. The number of organizations currently using or considering the adoption of SOA have risen 18.4 percent in North America, 17 percent in Europe and 43.6 percent in Asia Pacific.
- Blade Servers. Organizations currently using or considering adoption of Blade Servers rose dramatically. The number of such North American organizations grew 91 percent in North America, 68.7 percent in Europe and no less than 207.9 percent in Asia Pacific.