IT directors are unconvinced and remain reluctant to buy into emerging technologies, despite increased budgets and better understanding, an IDC survey has found.

The IDC's annual Systems Survey 2004 also revealed that two percent more IT professionals have a more positive outlook for the new year than last year.

However, they remain decidedly unimpressed by some of the newer technologies on offer - in particular, blade servers, tablet PCs and appliance servers - and were either sceptical or ignorant about their usefulness.

Chris Ingle, group consultant in IDC's EMEA Systems Group said that there was a definite split depending on the size of the organisation: "Large organisations tended to be sceptical; smaller organisations tended to be ignorant."

Phil McLean, server product marketing manager for HP UK said that the sitution with blade servers was changing. "We only launched our first blade server in 2002 so there was an education process to go through. But there was a definite increase in take-up towards the end of last year."

He pointed out that IDC itself predicted that blade servers would take up a third of the server market by 2006.

"We have had extensive marketing campaign and that has led to some increase in sales, but the real driver has been word-of-mouth. Customers have been seeing some of the benefits of blade servers for themselves," he said.

According to the IDC 2004 survey, the other, and more expected, change was the increasing interest in Linux. Although there was little evidence that organisations were kicking out their existing systems to forklift in a Linux infrastructure, there is a growing willingness for IT directors to experiment with the open-source operating system.

The survey found 48 percent of Linux servers purchased in 2003 were used to deploy a new application (the remainder were used for server consolidation, supporting an existing application and development). Only 31 percent of Unix and Windows systems bought were for new applications.

Ingle pointed out that Linux figures were based on a lower installed base but, even so, said the results were encouraging for open source. "The way I would read it is that Linux is a less mature platform so inevitably there will be less purchasing for supporting existing applications. But customers who are bringing Linux into their environments have considered alternatives to the applications they are deploying and decided that Linux is better for this."

The survey interviewed 1,000 IT professionals responsible for their companies' infrastructures in six countries in Europe. The survey found that the UK, Germany, and Sweden were most positive about their investment prospects. France, Spain, and Italy were less positive.