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As tech solutions and strategies continue to rapidly evolve, senior technology leaders have seemingly endless, constantly expanding choices to maximize output at their companies' IT departments.
But despite the plethora of options available, the TechTarget IT Priorities 2017 survey found that senior IT executives still turn to the tried-and-true (and old) cloud: Among the senior IT respondents who said their budgets would increase in 2017, 64% predicted they would increase their budget for cloud services, including computing, storage and applications -- more than any other area we asked about.
According to one IT Priorities 2017 survey respondent, the main reason enterprises still choose cloud over other data storage options is because it is so cost effective.
"It's not a reliability issue; it's economics and convenience," said Jim Hope, vice president of operations at Quality Consulting in Dallas. "They are looking for cheap."
Now in its ninth year, the IT Priorities survey queried 971 IT professionals about the key application, infrastructure and other tech-related initiatives that their companies will be undertaking in the coming year. The respondents represented a wide range of industry verticals based in North America.
A slice of 161 IT Priorities 2017 survey respondents that reported being a senior IT executive found that among those planning software initiatives around business applications, more than 55% reported integrating hybrid cloud when asked which deployment models their company would use this year, while 53% said they would use software as a service and 45% infrastructure as a service on a hosted private cloud (whereas 25% said IaaS on a public cloud).
Jim Hopevice president of operations, Quality Consulting
"Hybrid cloud for data storage is an attractive offer due to data replication that is often a service that is built in or available," said one respondent who works in the financial services industry. "Applications that fit best into a hybrid model are those that have minimal self-contained data requirements with no authentication -- think brochureware."
Among those who spend most of their time on general IT management -- data center or infrastructure operations, databases, storage, or backup and recovery -- cloud storage (54%) was also by far the most popular of the primary data storage options respondents expected to deploy in 2017, with solid-state storage a distant second (27%). Cloud also dominated when the same group of respondents was asked about backup projects, with 49% citing cloud as the leading backup choice.
Among those who said they spend most of their time on general IT management and end-user computing or desktop and device management, "Windows 10 deployment or migration" topped the list expected of desktop-related projects in 2017, but the next two top choices were "adopting software-as-a-service apps" and "implement apps as a service."
"One of the biggest reasons that we use internal cloud rather than legacy storage systems is that these are all flash arrays," said the respondent from the financial services industry. "Flash arrays allow us better response times, which allow us to deliver better and more responsive service to the business, allowing functionality and analytics that were not possible in the past."
Among respondents who said they devoted most of their time to application development, general IT management or other software-related areas, 35% of respondents said they would implement agile development methods in 2017, but cloud application development was close behind, at 31%.
Of course, it wasn't all cloud, all the time: IT Priorities 2017 survey respondents expected the popularity of IT automation to continue, with 36% of all respondents reporting that their company would implement automation initiatives in the coming year.
And when asked what software initiatives their company would deploy in 2017, 29% of those involved in either general IT management or software development said they would deploy mobile applications, followed by "business intelligence/analytics/data warehousing" (26%) and "business process automation/business process management" (24%).
Of those who said they would deploy mobile apps, 61% expected their companies would deploy an enterprise mobility management initiative in 2017.
Among the respondents who devote most of their time to either general IT management, security or compliance, 40% of respondents said they would implement encryption in 2017 and 38% said endpoint security such as anti-malware and suites. Luckily, they have not forgotten to secure all the 2017 cloud-related projects: 38% reported that they expected to implement cloud security initiatives this year.
"Many CIOs don't understand security; they just let stuff come through," Hope said, adding that data security needs to continue to be a priority for companies. "I recommend to all my clients that this is the voice of reason talking: 'Do you want to lose your data, do you feel lucky?'"
On another positive note, at least some of the IT Priorities 2017 survey respondents will get some resources to help with all these 2017 IT initiatives: 28% expected their IT budget to increase by more than 10%, 25% expect it to increase between 5% and 10%. Twenty-six percent said their IT budget would remain the same from 2016.
More IT Priorities survey coverage:
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Tech Priorities 2016: A guide to TechTarget's annual IT Priorities survey
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IT Priorities 2019: What projects are IT professionals spending their budgets on?
IT spending priorities for 2018 include cloud and flash storage
Cloud, app dev highlight IT budget management priorities for 2018
UK IT budgets are increasing fast as cloud adoption accelerates - Computer Weekly reader survey