Independent IT management consultant Ian Howard expects some resurgence in 2003 thanks to the Y2K product lifecycle. And Linux, thin client and terminal servers will be the main beneficiary of the trend, he says.
Howard, of Auckland-based consultancy IE3 Group, says many businesses will have to replace equipment bought three to four years ago. His view is backed by ITANZ executive director Jim O’Neill, who likewise expects the Y2K product lifecycle to boost a tough market in 2003.
In 1999 “fat” PCs and desktops were the way to go, but now Citrix and terminal servers are “very valid and cost-effective”, Howard believes.
“The other major driver is Linux, which is definitely an option for the server operating system, mainly supporting Oracle. It’s being explored by some serious people because of its cost advantage over other alternatives.”
Until this lifecycle upturn, due from the second half of the year, the 30-year IT veteran expects 2003 to remain tough. Professional services and Linux have been the main exceptions to a “very challenging” IT market.
“I am personally very busy [but] I have a lot of friends taking long holidays because they don’t have anything to do,” he says of the consultancy and contracting markets.
The secret to Howard’s success is working on small projects for organisations with whom he has built long-term relationships. He has few new clients.
Reflecting changing times, Howard’s consultancy, the IE3 Group, is changing its “historical” IT focus to more general consulting and professional services. Within five years, Howard expects “IT will be no big deal by then; it will be like breathing”.
In future consulting will remain at its historically low 2% to 3% of IT employment, he says, replacing the 15% of several years ago; the drop has been caused by technology becoming more packageable and easier to deploy, he says.