Flat IT budgets are the new normal


I distinctly remember the first time an IT director told me the budget was flat. I met with him numerous times to try to find ways to optimize and virtualize existing assets in order to free up budget dollars for projects that addressed business initiatives.

That was almost five years ago. Driven by a common goal, he and I became friends. Now my day job doesn’t put me in contact with him regularly, but we still catch up often. Amazingly, we still talk about flat IT budgets and how to do more with less.

In the years of flat (or declining) IT budgets, advances in technology have arisen. IT has gotten smart. Hardware and software virtualization are now mainstays in the data center, allowing IT organizations to focus more on business initiatives and less on keeping the lights on.

Mobile, social, analytics and big data jumped onto the scene during these lean IT times. Lean IT is here to stay, at least for another year. IDC estimates that worldwide IT spending will increase by 5.7 percent in 2013. At a macro view, that is promising. From experience with emerging markets, that means my US clients will be spending much less than that.


What underlying technology will allow those clients to make strides in social, mobile and big data? Cloud computing.

Cloud computing is not new to the data center. For each organization, “cloud computing” has a different meaning and implies different perceived risks. All the more reason to understand what cloud means to your organization.

For many organizations, cloud computing is a natural evolution from the existing virtualization and optimization projects in the data center.

For others, cloud is a way to start from scratch, offering freedom from existing data center complexities and dependencies.

Cloud isn’t flashy, but neither was server consolidation or virtualization. The process is similar, and the experience is similar. It takes planning, understanding of the current IT environment and a clear definition of implementation success.

Often the greatest challenge lies in the first step. Is infrastructure as a service (IaaS) the first move for your organization? Maybe a private cloud for application development is a better choice?

IBM adopted cloud to help control IT costs, accelerate new capabilities and deliver a higher level of service. Sound familiar? The workloads where IBM has seen the greatest impact of cloud computing are:

  • Development and test workloads
  • Analytics workloads
  • Storage workloads

Cloud computing offerings have enabled clients to shift IT budget from infrastructure maintenance to business initiatives. Results vary but include revenue growth, market share growth and capturing new market segments. Those sound like great reasons to start now.

If you’re still on the fence, check out IDC’s “Market Predictions for 2013.” By 2016, CIOs will embrace a “cloud first” strategy. Develop your “cloud first” strategy now and be ahead of the game.

For more thoughts on cloud computing, check out the Thoughts on Cloud blog.

Karin Broecker currently leads a team of software architects in making sense of the IBM software portfolio to help address business challenges. Karin has tackled the big three in STG: System z, Power Systems and Storage. In addition, her background includes application development, IT architecture, education and people management. She loves building a strategy, practicing yoga and enjoying life. Follow Karin on Twitter: @kbreks

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