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Whether it involves IBM, Cisco or Hewlett-Packard a common theme has emerged in recent months as it relates to IT spending. Customers will invest more in IT if only IT wasn’t so difficult to manage. Studies show that customers on average spend 70 percent of their budget on maintaining the systems they have. Logic dictates that if IT systems were less complex to manage, customers would spend more of the money on IT equipment.

That thinking is basically what drove the development of IBM’s PureSystems, the Proliant Gen 8 servers from Hewlett-Packard and the Unified Computing System (UCS) from Cisco.

But it’s just as likely that customers won’t spend any of the savings they accrue once they buy these new server platforms on additional applications. Many of them may opt to simply drop that saving directly to their own bottom line, especially during challenging economic times.

The degree to which that occurs will be of paramount interest to solution providers in the years ahead. History would indicate that there are plenty of IT projects that don’t get tackled due to a lack of time and resources, so in theory the fact that IT organizations might be about to spend less maintaining systems could be a very good thing for the channel.

Nancy Pearson, IBM vice President for BPM, SOA, WebSphere and cloud marketing, says IBM wants to work closely with partners to help customers tackle those project backlog. But before that can occur, the money needed to fund those projects needs to be available. To make that happen Pearson says solution providers need to have conversation with as many C-level executives as possible in order to overcome both IT inertia and any resistance to new approaches to managing IT that might stem from people worried about their roles either changing or being eliminated. The existence of platforms such as PureSystems, says Pearson, will force organizations to have a larger conversation about what its IT goals really are. In fact, Pearson says we’ve reached a tipping point in terms of what organizations are willing to spend to fund IT.

It remains to be scene to what degree that scenario will play out. Perason concedes it will take organizations years to make this transition and even then systems such as the IBM PureSystems platform might only have a 20 percent market share two years from now.

In fact, while the IBM PureSystems platform certainly represents a major advance in terms of systems management, the cost of acquiring those systems is relatively high compared to more traditional x86 servers. For that reason alone, it’s not likely that traditional x86 servers are about to be rendered obsolete. In fact, many customers may find that the IBM PureSystems have more in common with mainframes than they do with commodity server platforms.

Profound changes are clearly coming to the way IT is managed. But like most things in IT new server platforms can wind up having a lot of unintended consequences that solution providers would do well to factor into the future business plans.