How Will Future IT Spending Impact the Channel?

John Longwell, director of research for IT advisory firm Computer Economics, sees strong business spending ahead in such areas as server virtualization, storage management and help-desk support. But VARs will have a lot less luck trying to sell Vista.

Given the state of the domestic economy, it’s no surprise that the outlook for IT spending presents a mosaic of good and bad. International sales have helped buoy the earnings of many tech vendors, but there are indications that domestically, enterprises are restraining IT hiring and spending.

The question for solution providers is just where the greatest opportunities will present themselves in the months ahead. Taking a peek at the preliminary results from Computer Economics’ 2008 IT Staffing and Spending Survey, I’ll give you a heads-up. Any technology that promises to lower costs and produce efficiencies in IT operations is getting a green light.

To no one’s surprise, server virtualization rises to the top of nearly everyone’s list. Healthcare and government will be the hottest sectors for server virtualization, but the trend cuts across all enterprises, regardless of size or sector. Our survey indicates that more than 70 percent of all organizations plan to invest in server virtualization in the next year. Somewhat counter-intuitively, that should continue to drive server hardware upgrades, along with application and data center consolidation initiatives. Enterprises are also investing in network, systems, and data center automation tools—pretty much anything that will help them reduce headcount and improve service levels. So network, systems and storage management software should remain strong.

Along the same lines, many IT managers are keen on controlling help desk and desktop support staffing while improving service to their users. They are automating help desk functions and driving remote diagnostics and management down to the desktop. About 57 percent of respondents plan to invest in desktop support automation, while 42 percent are implementing IT self-help portals.

When it comes to business applications, business intelligence is continuing to show resiliency, particularly among distribution and retail customers. Nearly 68 percent of channel companies are planning BI investments, ranking it the most popular initiative for that sector. Many manufacturers are also moving ahead with BI applications.

What’s not hot? Don’t expect anyone to be rolling out Vista anytime soon. That doesn’t bode well for desktop sales, either. Only 4 percent of our sample showed any interest in deploying or expanding deployment of Vista, despite the availability of SP1. Maybe next year. Maybe not.

(John Longwell is director of research for Computer Economics, an IT research and advisory firm that has been providing IT spending, staffing and technology trends data and related metrics to industry and government since 1990.)

TAGS: server,virtualization,IT spending,Vista,Storage

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