A survey from IT management company Spiceworks found that although small to medium-size businesses are holding on to their servers and laptops longer these days-the average planned lifespan of hardware, which includes desktops, laptops and servers, increased 26 percent from 40 months to 50 months-most are planning to make significant investments in new hardware and software over the next six months.
Despite using hardware for a longer period of time, 68 percent of SMBs plan to add new hardware to their networks within the next six months. Among hardware purchasing priorities, 56 percent plan to buy desktops, 55 percent plan to purchases laptops, 45 percent plan new server purchases, 31 percent plan to add printers, and 27 percent plan to add new network devices. Only 13 percent have their eyes on netbooks.
The average new hardware order is expected to include 13 desktops, 10 laptops and two servers. The survey found hardware remains the biggest IT budget item, with SMBs expecting to spend 37 percent of their annual budgets refreshing and expanding physical infrastructure.
The findings were uncovered in a third-quarter 2009 survey of more than 1,000 IT professionals, which was designed to investigate current technology purchasing, usage and staffing trends among SMBs worldwide.
Results suggest IT budgets took a beating in 2009, with 39 percent cutting 2009 budgets from 2008 levels and the average cut being 22 percent. Thirty-one percent of respondents kept budgets the same, and 30 percent actually grew their budgets this year by 27 percent. Most did feel some impact from the economy this year, with 60 percent having delayed or canceled at least one project so far in 2009.
The survey found 51 percent are planning new software purchases. Security and anti-spam solutions topped the list, with 32 percent of SMBs planning such purchases within the next six months. Of these, just over one in three (35 percent) plan to buy cloud-based security and anti-spam offerings. However, 44 percent of respondents said they are using virtualization solutions. Within SMB networks, 21 percent of their total server computing capacity is virtualized. Over the next six months, 30 percent of SMBs plan to deploy or expand virtualization in their networks.
Twenty-five percent are planning backup and recovery purchases within the next six months, and of these 75 percent plan to store data on premises while 25 percent plan to utilize cloud-based storage solutions. Forty-two percent of data is slated to be stored on network-attached storage (NAS) or storage area network (SAN) devices, while 38 percent will be stored in direct-attached and local storage, 7 percent is planned to be hosted offsite, and 13 percent on tape and other media.
A little more than half (57 percent) of respondents said they currently use one or more "cloud computing" services. The three most popular cloud computing services in use or on the purchase list include anti-spam (43 percent), hosted e-mail (25 percent) and online backup (20 percent).
Jay Hallberg, co-founder and vice president of marketing for Spiceworks, said it's good to see SMBs showing positive signs of growth in technology spending. "Most are clearly ready to buy, and it will be interesting to watch how these plans play out among different geographies, industries and company sizes," he said. "We will track these and other technology trends of interest in future studies."