One of the side-effects of the rapid increases in compute power combined with an explosion of Internet users has been the need for organizations to grow their application  infrastructures to support more and more load. That means higher capacity everything – from switches to routers to application delivery infrastructure to the applications themselves.  Cloud computing has certainly stepped up to address this, providing the means by which organizations can efficiently and more cost-effectively increase capacity. Between cloud computing and increasing demands on applications there is a need for organizations to invest in the infrastructure necessary to build out a new network, one that can handle the load and integrate into the broader ecosystem to enable automation and ultimately orchestration. 

Indeed, Denise Dubie of Network World pulled together data from analyst firms Gartner and Forrester and the trend in IT spending shows that hardware is king this year.

blockquote"Computing hardware suffered the steepest spending decline of the four major IT spending category segments in 2009. However, it is now forecast to enjoy the joint strongest rebound in 2010," said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner, in a statement.

That is, of course, good news for hardware vendors. The bad news is that the perfect storm of increasing capacity needs, massively more powerful compute resources, and the death of objective third party performance reviews result in a situation that forces would-be IT buyers to rely upon third-parties to provide “real-world” performance data to assist in the evaluation of solutions. The ability – or willingness - of an organization to invest in the hardware or software solutions to generate the load necessary to simulate “real-world” traffic on any device is minimal and unsurprising. Performance testing products like those from Spirent and Ixia are not inexpensive, and the investment is hard to justify because it isn’t used very often.  But without such solutions it is nearly impossible for an organization to generate the kind of load necessary to really test out potential solutions. And organizations need to test them out because they, themselves, are not inexpensive and it’s perfectly understandable that an organization wants to make sure their investment is in a solution that performs as advertised. That means relying on third-parties who have made the investment in performance testing solutions and can generate the kind of load necessary to test vendor claims.

That’s bad news because many third-parties aren’t necessarily interested in getting at the truth, they’re interested in getting at the check that’s cut at the end of the test. Because it’s the vendor cutting that check and not the customer, you can guess who’s interests are best served by such testing.