Forrester ICT spending survey reveals few surprises

Basic computing and networking are among the targets for tech spending this year

In the next 12 months, ICT managers will be investing their dollars in servers, desktop PCs, virtualisation, wireless and Windows Vista.

That’s the finding of a recent survey by Forrester Research. In May, the firm surveyed 715 technology decision makers at North American firms and found that among the top priorities are some of ICT’s most basic needs.

“We found that bread-and-butter concerns like disaster recovery, security and compliance are top themes for the next 12 months,” analysts Frank Gillett and Simon Yates wrote in the report, titled Enterprise IT Infrastructure 2006 Adoption.

Forrester’s research found that a third of ICT budgets are being devoted to enterprise hardware and maintenance, with servers accounting for more than a quarter of the hardware spending. Researchers attribute the spending on servers, PCs (about 25%), storage (19%), network hardware (16%) and systems management (13%) to falling prices.

“Firms are clearly continuing to take advantage of higher-performance systems at prices lower than ever before,” the report says.

Spending will also address top concerns around disaster recovery and security, the survey found. Just over half the firms polled plan to purchase technology or upgrade their disaster recovery capabilities and enhance their security environments. Another 54% cited support for regulatory compliance efforts and ICT consolidation projects.

Virtualisation is also taking off, Forrester reports, as companies continue consolidation efforts to reduce the number and variety of server hardware and operating systems they support. More than half the respondents plan to reduce server number and variety, and another 42% want to reduce the number of operating system varieties and configurations, the report states.

Some 40% of those surveyed are using virtualisation technologies, while more than a third are piloting the technology or taking an interest in it — which the research firm says “far [exceeds] the interest and use of computing grids”.

On the storage front, data retention and archiving are topping 22% of the ICT buyers’ minds. For example, the survey found that a third of firms are already using email archiving technologies, with another 25% planning deployments in the next year. About 20% of those Forrester surveyed plan to update storage infrastructure and another 18% plan to do some storage consolidation in the next 12 months. And 27% reported they are currently using “newer storage technologies like IP-based storage area networks and virtual tape libraries”, the report says.

When it comes to new technologies, 40% of respondents plan to roll out Windows Vista within the first year of its release. Also, 58% of firms intend to increase spending on wireless LANs. Of those, 27% plan to “significantly increase” spending on wireless network investments — which aren’t the only area Forrester sees ICT buyers spending networking money on.

“Wireless networks aren’t the only destination for network-related investments, with more than a third of firms planning to upgrade or refresh LAN switches and routers within the next year,” the report says. “Seventy-seven percent of firms prefer ‘smart’ networks, and are acting on making them smart — 25% are either piloting or very interested inQoS mechanisms, 24% for port-based authentication, and 22% for application/WAN acceleration technologies.”

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