2013 IT forecast: Blending the new with the old

Our 2013 IT forecast finds organizations spending heavily on infrastructure, security and software, with cloud and consumer tech gaining ground.

If IT organizations and data centers are disappearing into the cloud or being replaced by end users managing them themselves anytime soon, then businesses worldwide are set to waste a lot of money on infrastructure, security and software, according to our 2013 IT forecast.

Mark SchlackMark Schlack

In TechTarget's annual IT Priorities Survey of IT managers worldwide, 3,282 respondents from around the world indicated they will focus on many of the same issues they have focused on in recent years. There are, however, clear indications that they in fact are beginning to take steps toward a greater use of cloud services and consumer technologies.

Last year's top IT priority was Windows 7. After two years of high migration activity, however, Windows 7 has receded and dropped down on the list, and Windows 8 is still early in the adoption cycle, with only 21% of respondents citing it as a 2013 project. But the next top five priorities from last year were this year's top five as well, albeit in a slightly scrambled order:

  • Data protection                                                                       56%
  • Server virtualization                                                                53%
  • Network-based security                                                          51%
  • Disaster recovery/business continuity                                   50%
  • Business intelligence/analytics/data warehousing               46%

As a sign of just how pervasive virtualization has become in IT, storage virtualization jumped from 10th priority last year to 6th this year (42%) and backup for virtual servers jumped from 17th to 9th (40%). It's not clear whether IT managers are pursuing virtualization just for its immediate benefits as part of a long-term consolidation plan, or as preparation for moving to the cloud. Consolidation slipped in this year's survey from 7th priority last year to 13th this year, but was still cited as on the agenda by 38% of respondents. The slippage may just signal that some shops have finished their major consolidation projects.

What's next remains murkier. Among those respondents consolidating, 65% choose virtual server farms as their approach, more than twice the number of respondents choosing any of the alternatives. More generally, only 21% have private cloud projects on the agenda for 2013, with a mere 9% integrating their data centers with external clouds. That suggests that for the moment at least, most IT shops are taking the stance that they get most of the benefits of a cloud (private or public) from virtual server and storage farms, and that additional features like self-service provisioning are a nicety left for another day, if used at all.

More on the 2013 IT forecast and beyond

The top data storage technologies for 2013

However, 29% of respondents say they will implement some form of external cloud services in 2013. IT services spending in general is going up because of cloud at about half of IT shops. Not surprisingly, the main cloud options for 2013 are Software as a Service (SaaS) (55%) and storage (42%). Still, 62% of those responsible for deploying applications say they will deploy on-premises software and hardware in 2013, compared to 35% for SaaS. Even fewer say they will use various hybrid private-public combinations.

Mobility on the move

With 38% of respondents planning some kind of project in 2013, it's clear that mobility is part of the changing IT landscape. As with cloud, the picture is less one of mobile devices replacing desktops and users replacing IT as their own admins, and more about blending mobility into the enterprise.

For example, while 54% of respondents involved with desktop management say they will allow users to self-provision smartphones in 2013, only 35% say they will do that with tablets that will link to the corporate network, and only 29% for laptops or desktops. While many are looking at SaaS options for a variety of office software functions, 16% to 19% of respondents will allow users to select their own apps, data protection or email, SaaS or not.

What emerges in this year's survey is that tablets are catching up with smartphones. In fact, they were statistically tied as the top two mobile initiatives for 2013 at 37% and 38%, respectively. Yet IT seems to be lagging at the enterprise infrastructure level for these devices, with only 29% implementing mobile device management and fewer implementing mobile security (28%) and mobile enhancement of corporate data or apps (21%). And while some see tablets as the killer app for desktop virtualization, only 12% are implementing mobile virtualization.

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