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IT Priorities 2018: Where senior IT managers plan to spend their budget

It is the year when IT departments migrate to Windows 10, upgrade to Windows Server 2016, architect microservices and deploy cloud management

The 2018 ComputerWeekly/TechTarget IT Priorities survey found that for IT decision-makers, 2018 is the cusp of the big move to the cloud. Systems management tools are where many expect to be spending this year. System monitoring saw a 20%-plus jump from 2017 to 2018 in terms of priority.

The survey reported that enterprises across Europe are committed to upgrading and consolidating their datacentres for a mix of efficiency, performance and cloud-readiness improvements.

Of the 1,875 IT decision-makers from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea) who took part in the 2018 survey, about one-third (29%) said upgrading their datacentre infrastructure – including cooling systems, power supply and servers – is their top priority. This equates to a year-on-year rise of 44%.

Among the 243 IT professionals surveyed in the UK, the proportion that plan to deploy hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) nearly trebled year on year from 9% to 22%.

Other areas that saw growth in the number of planned deployments in 2018 include flash arrays, with 9% planning to roll them out this year compared with 6% last year; and storage for virtual environments, which saw an increase in planned deployments from 11% in 2017 to 18% this year.

In terms of datacentre projects, the migration to Windows Server 2016 seems to be the biggest priority for IT managers, with more than 30% saying they would migrate in 2018.

Meanwhile, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) remain the strongest categories for packaged business applications, with 53% of respondents naming these as priority areas for investment. But this figure represents a modest 3% growth for ERP and 2% for CRM, across Emea.

IT decision-makers are also starting to make strategic buying decisions around artificial intelligence and blockchain. AI leapt from 8% to 18% as a priority area in the UK, and from 8% to 16% in Emea. Blockchain went from 3% to 6% as an investment priority area in the UK, and from 5% to 10% in the Emea region.

Looking at IT security spending, data loss prevention (DLP) is the top security initiative across Europe, with 55% of organisations planning to implement it in 2018, more than double the previous year, according to the TechTarget IT Priorities survey.

DLP down from top spot

DLP dropped from top spot in 2016 in the UK to 8th position in 2017. This is closely followed by email security, encryption and endpoint security, all of which are to be implemented by 52% of European organisations polled and are aimed at improved data protection.

Significantly, planned adoption of encryption – which is widely considered as essential to data protection at rest, in transit and in the cloud – is up 94% compared with 2017. Planned investment in endpoint security is up 68% compared with 2017, which is relatively high considering it was the top priority for most European firms in the past year.

Interestingly, security is one of the big drivers for businesses to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. With less than two years to go before Windows 7 support officially stops, 44% of businesses surveyed said they would migrate to Windows 10 this year.

Migration is one of the big projects for 2018, but beyond making sure applications run, experts advise IT departments to start using Windows 10 to change the way desktop IT operates. Windows 10 represents more than just another Windows upgrade. The operating system itself will remain up to date through Windows updates, which should mean there will no longer be a need for “big bang migrations” of Windows desktops. Some industry experts believe there is an opportunity for IT to relinquish overall responsibility for desktop systems.

This may help IT to deliver on some of the areas regarded by industry experts as hot technologies, but which have seen little uptake. For instance, the IT Priorities survey found that only 14% of respondents said they would deploy cloud-based office productivity suites such as Office 365 or Google G Suite in 2018. And only 10% said they would deploy enterprise file synchronisation and sharing services.

Looking at software development, while most initiatives are down year on year, microservices have grown by 140% to appear in the top five for the first time. More than a quarter of UK IT decision-makers said they would be conducting API-based projects in 2018, which suggests organisations are beginning to see the opportunities of developing software around composable architectures that publish external APIs and make use of internal and external microservices.

Overall, the survey found IT budgets are increasing in 2018, with new spending going on cloud initiatives at the expense of on-premise IT. Those across Emea who said their budgets were decreasing expect to spend less on staff and consulting services.

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