2010 information technology plans will have smaller budgets

Will 2010 be the year most IT budgets decline? Our annual survey says "yes" but also reveals significant differences in both budgets and priorities between haves and have-nots.

Talk about bubbles bursting: IT managers are actually forecasting lower budgets for their 2010 information technology

plans. If you're not a student of the history of IT budgets, that's without precedent. In fact, it's unusual even to see lower growth rates, much less a 2.7% drop in North America and 1.7% cuts worldwide. So let's just say that we have now put the period on the sentence "This is the worst recession most of us have ever seen."

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Looking more deeply into the responses we received from 958 IT managers who took our annual IT Priorities Survey shows that 2010 will be a tale of two different kinds of companies: For the 44% of companies that say they are spending selectively in a few key areas, expanding IT to support business growth or helping the business to automate more, 2010 will be a year of flat spending, as it will be for those that are just trying to maintain service levels. For the 35% that are reducing expenditures, spending will be down by a whopping 7%.

If there's one unifying theme for next year's IT departments, it will be "doing more with less," a mantra cited by 46% of respondents. One item that will be in the "less" column is servers; 33% are deploying virtualization to reduce costs.

But spenders and cutters differ on several key points. Among those investing in IT budgets next year, 42% are trying new technologies to reduce costs, versus 28% of the flat-to-down crowd. On the flip side, 22% of cutters say they're not doing much new, versus only 10% of spenders.

So what technologies and projects are IT shops deploying the most in 2010? Here are the ones that more than 25% of shops are implementing:

Server virtualization 46%
Disaster recovery/business continuity 42%
Data protection 42%
Network-based security 41%
Storage virtualization 34%
Migrate to Windows 7 33%
Compliance 31%
Business intelligence/data warehousing 27%
Application security 27%
Business process automation/business process management 26%
Identity and access management 26%

Perhaps the only surprises on this IT budgets list are storage virtualization and Windows 7. Both server and desktop virtualization can become expensive on the storage side without pooling, which is most likely the motivation for adopting storage virtualization, a technology that has enjoyed only modest adoption in recent years. And Windows 7 migrations probably mirror pent-up demand for new desktops and, possibly, new OS features.

Missing from the hot list are some recent hype kings, notably cloud (20%), unified communications (13%), SOA (16%), mobile endpoint security (13%) and green IT (21%).

In future articles, we'll dig more into the major pillars of IT to discuss what IT managers are planning in each of those areas in 2010.

Let us know what you think about the story; email editor@searchcio.com

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