Many companies say they will adopt cloud computing within two years

Microsoft-sponsored study on IT spending shows green is out, efficiency is in and security is still painful.

Microsoft-sponsored study on IT spending shows green is out, cloud computing is in and security is still painful.

One-third of 1,200 organizations (33%) plan to convert their application environments away from a traditional, client-server model to one based on virtualization and cloud computing over the next two years, according to a study commissioned by Microsoft and released today. The study sought to broadly determine global IT spending priorities.

While the survey was far from comprehensive, it did uncover a few silver-lining facts. IT spending budgets will not be cut, with 98% saying they will generally maintain or increase their planned investment. Nearly 2/3 say the economy has created reason to invest more in one or more areas of technology. And of those, virtualization, security, systems management and cloud computing are the areas of choice. Specifically:

  • 42% plan increased investment in virtualization.
  • 36% plan increased investment in security.
  • 24% plan increased investment in systems management.
  • 16% plan increased investment in cloud computing.

Given today's economic climate, much of the study produced results on spending priorities that you might expect. Security remains the top challenge, with 73% saying protection of consumer and customer data as the top priority. Additionally:

  • 55% indicate that the economy has changed the role of IT in their organization.
  • 51% say that budget cuts are the biggest barrier to innovation.
  • Innovation is taking a back seat to maintenance. In 2009 companies on average worldwide will allocate 37% of their budget to innovation and 63% toward “keeping the lights on.”

However, one of the more surprising areas was that U.S. companies were allocating less budget toward "innovation," and more toward maintenance than their international counterparts, said Microsoft's Bob Kelly, corporate vice president of infrastructure server marketing in an online press conference. In the U.S. the breakout was innovation 29% vs. maintenance 71%. This compares to the UK and Japan's 41% / 59% ratio and Germany's 35% / 65%.

With respect to U.S.'s lower ratio, Kelly says, "The U.S. was the hardest hit in some respects from the economic downturn but also has the opportunity of coming back faster. Nearly 70 of the IT pros we surveyed believe that their investments in IT will drive revenue growth and become a competitive advantage over the next three years."

One area that won't be seeing the greenbacks is green IT, the study found. While most of those surveyed (84%), said they considered green factors when making decisions about data centers, when push comes to shove, a technology's green-ness is only a factor for 44% when deciding what to spend on. In other words, the study suggested that people like to think about eco-conscious IT options, but these have a reputation of costing more and they aren't willing to spend more for so-called green technologies, at least not in this economic climate.

One other item of interest about this particular study was that the Microsoft PR team used it to conduct a never-before experiment with outreach on Twitter. The PR team told reporters invited to the conference that they could post advance questions (or even follow-ups) on Twitter with the hashtag #qs4ms. So Microsoft Subnet did so, asking a question unrelated to the topic at hand, (but far more interesting, we think). We asked: "when will SCVMM 2008 R2 be avail?" (System Center Virtual Machine Manager is one of the technologies under Bob Kelly's marketing wing. The R2 beta RC was released to the public on June 8.) But alas, our lonely question was the only one posted and has, so far, elicited no reply.

Beyond that, we also note that the idea of "innovation" is going to be the marketing buzzword that Microsoft will be spoon-feeding you over the next few weeks in conjunction with Hyper-V and the Systems Center family. In addition to this commissioned study, we see that Microsoft has provided a guest blog today on its Virtualization Team Blog from a Microsoft MVP called : The Role of IT in an Economic Downturn: Spend Smarter, Not Smaller. The guest blogger not only uses the term "innovation" but also references this very study, conducted by Harris Interactive.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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