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IDC bullish on utility computing spending

The dollars will flow in coming years, the researcher says, for products that deal in utility computing, as businesses look to technology suppliers to ease systems management.

As technology suppliers ease systems management, spending for products that deal in utility computing will surge in coming years, analyst firm IDC is predicting.

Spending of $1 billion in 2003 is expected to double this year and to increase to about $4.6 billion in 2007, IDC said in a conference call Tuesday.

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An idea sweeping the computing industry, utility computing--known by various labels such as on-demand, adaptive or organic computing--has spurred all large technology suppliers to action. The companies are seeking ways to address customer complaints about the complexity of installing, operating or changing their computing gear.

IBM, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard are hard at work, increasing the automation of their gear so that a collection of servers, storage and networking gear will automatically reconfigure themselves to adjust to changing work loads or equipment failure. Related software is emerging from companies such as EMC, Computer Associates International and Microsoft. Even Intel is getting into the act, planning technology called Vanderpool to make it easier for one processor to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

Of course, all these companies are eager to sell more products to customers, IDC analyst Mark Melenovsky said. But utility computing offers indirect benefits as well, he said.

Signing up a customer for utility computing technology will mean some "lock-in for hardware" that will make it easier for computing companies to protect their existing customers from switching, Melenovsky said. In addition, utility computing products will be a good foundation for selling higher-level automation and management products, he said.