IT Investment Trends: Infrastructure Back in the Mix

CIO Insight‘s latest IT Investment Trends study shows renewed interest in the fundamentals of the IT infrastructure. This is refreshing amid today’s ethereal talk about clouds and virtual machines. It’s also a reflection of the uncertain economic state from which businesses are slowly emerging and the muted growth they’re experiencing.

In some cases, attention to “the fundamentals” means a turn back toward computing hardware that’s badly in need of a refresh. In others, it means investing in half-neglected infrastructure that is needed more than ever as a consequence of those ethereal technologies. (To download a pdf version of the full IT Investment Trends study, including charts, click here. For our Expert Voices perspective on Investing in IT, click here.)

Midrange enterprises (with 50 to 499 employees) had to be most cautious during the downturn, but they now have a strong focus on the basic areas. (See chart at right.) In these enterprises, categories where the most organizations are increasing spending year-over-year are user PCs (74 percent) and servers (72 percent).

In large enterprises, investment in systems did not suffer as much as it did in midrange organizations in recent years. Instead, budgets were increased for other elemental IT areas, especially back-up and continuity. Roughly a third of large enterprises say they’re increasing budgets in each of these categories.

In 2010, most IT organizations spent more than originally budgeted on central technology needs, such as security and email systems. (See Finding 1.1 on page 17) That’s because last year’s budgeting cycle — which took place in late 2009–occurred before the economic recovery started.

In late 2009, companies were tightening many kinds of investments. So, by second-half 2010, some areas of infrastructure had become creaky, and upgrading became the lower-cost option. As a result, organizations had to return to pre-recession technologies they’d half forgotten.

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