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IT priorities 2016: Cloud initiatives drive IT spending

Cloud computing is expected to experience the biggest growth in spending among businesses planning IT investments in 2016

There appears to be strong correlation between moving to the cloud and cutting costs, according to the Computer Weekly IT priorities 2016 survey of UK IT professionals and managers.

The survey showed that 50% of those asked said they would be increasing spending on cloud computing, while 37% confirmed they would be decreasing their hardware investments.

As previously reported by Computer Weekly, in the UK and Ireland 38.4% of respondents named server virtualisation as their top investment area.

And although 23% of those asked said they would be investing in more staff, 35% claimed they would be cutting their headcount, suggesting pressure remains in IT to reduce costs. In fact, 42% of IT professionals said their budgets have either remained the same or dropped compared with 2015.

The majority of respondents to the survey (37%) said they would be implementing compliance initiatives in 2016, while datacentre consolidation is the second most popular initiative.

Cloud storage is the biggest area of storage investment. Some 40% of IT professionals asked revealed this would their biggest storage initiative of 2016. What's interesting here, however, is that in-house backup takes the biggest share of disaster recovery spending (37%), followed by cloud backup (30%).

Looking specifically at storage initiatives, backup for virtual servers continues to be a key priority, with 23% planning to deploy it in 2016. Computer Weekly previously noted that this figure indicates IT departments may be well on the way to virtualising backup, as it has fallen from 28% in 2015, 36% in 2014 and 41% in 2013.

Solid-state storage is a key project for 16% of respondents, down slightly from just about having plateaued across 2015 (19%), 2014 (20%) and 2013 (18%).

In terms of application initiatives, 32% of IT professionals who participated in the survey said they were running big data initiatives, slightly higher than the 31% running mobile projects. The internet of things (IoT), regarded by many as the next big movement in terms of major IT initiatives, came relatively low in terms of priorities, with just 12% of those asked saying they would be running such projects in 2016.

In the UK, however, business intelligence, analytics and data warehousing tops the investment poll for enterprise software, at 27%. The 142 UK respondents said they have invested relatively heavily in all information management disciplines, with 26% committed to data integration.

Given that mobility is a top five IT priority for IT professionals, enterprise mobility management is the biggest area of mobile investment. Some 47.2% of the IT professionals said they were investing in this area, suggesting CIOs are well aware of the network security risks that go hand in hand with mobile.

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Looking specifically at security, data-loss prevention is the security project that tops IT decision-maker’s priority lists, with 38% of respondents saying it would be one of their security projects for 2016.

This is followed by single sign-on initiatives (35%) and mobile security (34%), reflecting the importance IT decision-makers put on mobile security.

Looking broadly at all the results, it would seem IT professionals reckon their organisations are making investments in the cloud. In fact, 58% of IT professionals said their organisations would be doing software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployments in 2016.The equivalent figure for on-premise deployments is 40%.

With more being spent on SaaS and cloud initiatives, it's clear that organisations need to invest less in hardware. Cloud-based applications can support mobile use, hence the popularity of mobile management and related technology initiatives such as single-sign-on.

The results around server virtualisation show that many organisations move far slower than the IT industry. As previously reported by Computer Weekly, IT departments are often held back by the need to continue to support legacy investments.

The survey revealed that 37% of IT professionals plan to migrate desktops to Windows 10 in 2016, but Microsoft said it will support the older Windows 7 operating system until 14 January 2020, which gives IT departments plenty of time to move.

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