Nevertheless, Cisco said IT leaders were upbeat. "In particular they see cloud, mobile device support and remote access as key priorities."
License management firm Flexera said it was seeing an upturn in interest in its products as the financial crisis remained. "Chief information officers will continue to need to be creative about finding hidden pools of waste to trim their budgets and at the same time fund strategic projects," it said.
"With most of the obvious sources of waste long since scoured, the murky, complex and seemingly indecipherable world of software licenses will provide a new opportunity for cost cutting and project funding."
Modelling software firm Real Status, based in Cambridge, said businesses would look to simplify applications. Its research had found that "only about 10 percent of application features are being used in any meaningful way" in most businesses, it said.
Service management will also be a focus for improvement, according to vendor ICCM, with businesses looking for more flexibility. "In recent years we have already seen significant changes in IT service management; its position within a business now reaches far beyond the focus of the IT department," it said.
The need to effectively process big data would, however, drive spending in many large organisations, analysts said. Forrester predicted that business intelligence will become much more "agile, pervasive and limitless" and executives would push for "better, faster insights".
Vendor Netuitive said the key development in analytics would be "how maths-based, IT analytics are starting to enable advanced correlation of real-time data across silos and domains, and from multiple data types - for example application data from APM tools such as CA Wily, IT infrastructure data, and business metrics".
Banks were already using "this type of visibility", it said, allowing administrators "to detect anomalies, drill down to root cause and troubleshoot proactively before they cascade into service degradation and IT outages".
Observers said the data deluge would remain a struggle, in spite of valiant efforts by IT. "In the period to 2015, more than 85 percent of [the largest] organisations will fail to effectively exploit big data for competitive advantage," Gartner said.
Among smaller businesses, vendor Acronis said it was noting a significant increase in interest in its virtualisation technology. "We believe that in 2012 small to medium sized companies will stop talking about virtualisation and actually start to virtualise their IT infrastructure," it said.
But it warned that as virtualisation becomes more common practice, "some key questions surface: who owns the virtual data and therefore, who is responsible for backup & recovery. As the use of virtual servers for business-critical applications grows, data protection will also become a big issue."
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