Survey: Back to network basics for IT spending

Forrester Research reports basic needs like disaster recovery and security are among the top IT concerns

Enterprise IT managers in the next 12 months will be investing their IT dollars in servers, desktops, virtualization, wireless and Windows Vista.

Or so say the results of a survey that Forrester Research released Wednesday. The research firm in May surveyed some 715 IT decision makers at North American firms and found that among the top priorities are some of IT's most basic needs.

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

Forrester's research found that one-third of the IT budget is being devoted to enterprise hardware and maintenance, with servers accounting for more than one-quarter of the hardware spending. Researchers attribute the spending on servers, PCs (about 25 percent), storage (19 percent), network hardware (16 percent) and systems management (13 percent) to falling prices.

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

Spending will also address top concerns around disaster recovery and security, the survey found. Fifty-six percent of firms plan to purchase technology or upgrade their disaster recovery capabilities and enhance their security environments. Another 54 percent cited support forregulatory compliance efforts (such as Sarbanes-Oxley) and IT consolidation IT projects.

Virtualization 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 polled plan to reduce server number and variety, and another 42 percent want to reduce the number of operating system varieties and configurations, the report states.

Some 40 percent of those surveyed are using virtualization technologies, while more than one-third are piloting the technology or taking an interest in it -- which the research firm says "far [exceeds] the interest and use ofcomputing grids.

On the storage front, data retention and archiving are topping 22 percent of the IT buyers' minds. For example, the survey found that one-third of firms are already using e-mail archiving technologies, with another 25 percent planning deployments in the next year. About one-fifth of those Forrester surveyed plan to update storage infrastructure and another 18 percent plan to do some storage consolidation in the next 12 months. And 27 percent reported they are currently using "newer storage technologies like IP-based storage area networks and virtual tape libraries," the report reads.

When it comes to new technologies, 40 percent of respondents said they plan to roll out Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system within the first year of its release. And some 58 percent of firms intend to increase spending on wireless LANs, the report says. Of that 58 percent, 27 percent plan to "significantly increase" spending on wireless network investments -- which isn't the only area Forrester sees IT buyers putting their money on advanced networks.

"Wireless networks aren't the only destination for network-related investments, with more than one-third of firms planning to upgrade or refresh LAN switches and routers within the next year," the report reads. "Seventy-seven percent of firms prefer'smart' networks, and are acting on making them smart -- 25 percent are either piloting or very interested in QoS mechanisms, 24 percent forport-based authentication, and 22 percent forapplication / WAN acceleration technologies."

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