IT Departments Face Tough Spending Decisions in 2015

Despite strained resources, 2015 is the year that many IT professionals will refresh aging hardware and software.

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Just 33 percent of IT professionals expect 2015 IT budgets to increase and only 25% expect a raise in headcount, according to results of a Spiceworks survey examining 2015 IT spending priorities in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

On average, IT professionals surveyed plan to invest $291,062 on IT products and services this year.

IT professionals plan to spend 41 percent of their 2015 budget on hardware, including new desktops, laptops, networking and servers. They’ll spend an average of 20 percent of their hardware budgets on desktops, 19 percent on servers and 15 percent on laptops.

Additionally, 10 percent will be spent on networking, 8 percent on external storage and 7percent on tablets and mobile devices.

"Unfortunately, upper management does not always view IT as a potential “money-maker” for their organizations," Peter Tsai, IT content manager at Spiceworks, told eWEEK. "Most of the time, IT is seen as a need-to-have in order to keep the engines running, so IT budgets aren’t always a top priority. We’re seeing that same trend this year."

IT organizations will spend 12 percent of their overall annual budgets on hosted or cloud-based projects in 2015. Of that, 18 percent will be spent on email hosting, 16 percent on Web hosting, 13 percent on online backup and recovery, 7 percent on application hosting, and 6 percent on industry-specific applications.

Among those planning to deploy new cloud-based solutions, online backup and recovery is a top priority followed closely by productivity solutions. Aging and obsolete technology is a top reason companies plan to spend on new IT hardware, software, and services in 2015, with 67 percent of IT professionals citing end-of-life issues as the driving force behind new purchases.

Over 50 percent of survey respondents’ desktops and notebooks are more than four years old, and 20 percent are more than seven years old.

"Without proper headcount or adequate budget within an IT department, you run the risk of being reactive instead of proactive when it comes to maintaining and protecting corporate networks," Tsai said. "Without proper planning, unexpected problems such as system downtime or data loss can rear their ugly heads due to lack of preparation, Tsai said. “Because of looming challenges, 2015 will be a year when IT departments prioritize and make do with available budget."

Perhaps the biggest of those challenges will be the upcoming deadline for migrating Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015.

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of companies surveyed have at least one instance of Windows Server 2003 running in their environment. This means a majority of IT professionals will be racing to migrate in advance of Microsoft’s deadline.