2024 predictions – Firms must get their IT ‘back end’ primed for AI 

Peter Miller (ETB Technologies)

by Pete Miller, Sales and Business Development Manager, ETB Technologies

2023 will no doubt go down as the year that AI went mainstream. But as we fully emerged from the Covid-19 bubble, it also marked a year of economic challenge as organisations reviewed their IT needs and spending as a recession edged closer and inflation kept rising. 

At ETB, we have not been immune from the pressures, but we are pleased to be closing out the year strongly, supporting many new organisations with their refurbished enterprise IT needs. From servers to switches, we now ship to 85 countries around the world and continue to ensure we make the exporting process as easy as possible for our customers.

Moving into 2024, I expect organisations will pay particular attention to three key areas, considering their strategies against a backdrop of broader tech trends over the coming year. 

  1. Getting the IT ‘back end’ primed for AI.

Not a day went by in 2023 when an AI story was not in the press – for positive and not-so-positive reasons.   Unsurprisingly, Google and Deloitte have already predicted that AI will remain a high priority for organisations in 2024.

However, what is not hitting the headlines is the back-end requirements to power AI solutions. AI needs powerful servers. As we see more organisations look to purchase GPUs, we are seeing their price point catapult; the age-old, supply and demand situation. In the last month, costs have increased by almost 100%. While we know there is slack in IT budgets, no way will they stretch to this level.

As a result, it’s possible that we’ll see a shortage of affordable hardware and GPUs due to rising demand from organisations for the higher level of compute power that AI demands.

Organisations must therefore carefully consider how they will become ready for the era of AI – from a financial, skills and technological perspective.

Firms must do their homework to check if their existing systems will provide the right compute power for their needs. If not – and new equipment is needed – confirming budget availability will be the next step before checking out the market; given the boom in demand for high-power servers, this should include comparing the merits of new versus refurbished stock.

With high levels of stock and more attractive price points, we are likely to see more organisations turn to the refurb market to bolster their AI journey.

But it isn’t just servers that will be impacted by the increased adoption of AI. Switches will also be key to the success of the technology within organisations because of the capacity and need for data to move more rapidly around its infrastructure.

  1. Coin remains king. 

With data highlighting that the UK economy is “showing signs of life”, we expect organisations to spend more freely in 2024. However, the caution re IT spend in 2023 will likely continue as organisations seek to extract additional value from their technology investments. 

Getting the most “bang for their buck” will be the number one priority for IT managers and their finance directors, so we expect many organisations to shop around or look at alternative routes to stretch their budgets. This is where the refurbished market can excel, with savings of up to 70% versus newer generation equivalents.

Equally, we may also see organisations “renting” IT equipment via “as-a-service” models. Not a new route to technology adoption by any means (we have seen software, storage and cloud all offered in this model), and there’s no doubt this option can help organisations that only have a temporary need to spin up specific services to support their IT projects.

The evolution of this operational model is likely to touch on AI sooner rather than later. AI-as-a-Service could provide the alternative to investing £20,000-£30,000 on the setup needed to adopt and build AI technology or to buy a supercomputer. It makes sound financial sense.

  1. Considering the cloud 

The use of cloud computing has steadily grown since it became mainstream over the last two decades. However, while the shift to remote working boosted these rates during the Covid-19, we are anecdotally seeing organisations reconsider their use of the cloud. 

Whether this is shifting the cloud that they use or declouding to redress the balance to on-premise, reviewing and reconsidering what is in the cloud – and considering if that still works for an organisation – is likely to become more prevalent in 2024. Indeed, cloud migration will allow companies to redirect IT spend towards other critical technology investments.

This is where enterprise refurbished IT can help. It is often more economical to bring specific workloads into on-premise servers without blowing the budget. Whether these are mail servers or finance workloads, business leaders can be reassured that the quality of refurbished IT is as good as buying new – and covered by robust warranties.

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