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Forecast 2015: IT spending on an upswing

Stacy Collett | Nov. 4, 2014
As purse strings loosen up, CIOs blend innovation into 2015 IT budgets, but security and cost containment remain top priorities.

Balancing security and agility are top spending priorities for next year at Georgetown University in Washington. That's a tall order considering the IT department endured a 5% spending cut in 2014 and will see no new funds next year. But by squeezing out IT efficiencies and centralizing some functions, the department was able to free up several million dollars for new projects.

"We get roughly 45 million hits against our network on a yearly basis," says CIO Lisa Davis. "We know that we're a target -- in terms of higher education and being on an unclassified network -- so we have to be very diligent in how we're managing [security]. But at the same time, we want to bring agility and have the freedom and openness that we want to support our academic and research environments."

So Davis says that she's focusing a portion of her budget on a more proactive security posture that includes investing in a FireEye threat prevention platform that will "allow us to be responsive to security threats on our network so that we really understand what's going on."

2. Cloud Computing
Companies continue to move away from big infrastructure investments in favor of cloud-based systems. More than 40% of the respondents to the Computerworld Forecast survey said that their organizations will spend more on software as a service (SaaS) and a mix of public, private, hybrid and community clouds in 2015.

Nevitt & Associates, an agricultural asset management company in Queen Creek, Ariz., will increase IT spending by 15% in 2015 after two years of flat budgets, says CIO David Dodds. As much as half of next year's IT budget will go toward licensing for cloud-based offerings such as Microsoft's Office 365 software suite and Dropbox's file hosting service.

"I want to be the IT guy who's out of the IT business," Dodds says. "I don't have to have servers, and [employees can] bring whatever computer they have or I'll just buy them a Chromebook. We can connect to a virtual desktop that's always ready, clean, updated and secure -- and all I have to worry about is my Internet connection." He says he hopes to see his dream become reality in two years, but right now most of his IT dollars are still spent "just trying to keep the lights on."

For many companies, migrating to the cloud doesn't require new IT dollars -- just a shift away from infrastructure spending. "When companies move things to the cloud, they're spending less on traditional on-premises technology. So instead of buying their own servers, storage and systems, they're buying infrastructure as a service or software as a service," says Minton. There are exceptions, though. Small and midsize companies -- which may have the most to gain from the increased capabilities and lower maintenance needs of hosted systems -- would require budget increases to move to the cloud. "So it does drive some new spending," he adds.


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