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Arrow ECS survey: IT budgets down, storage initiatives up in midmarket

In Arrow ECS' IT budget survey of midmarket CIOs, about twice as many managers are planning storage initiatives this year compared with last year, and networked storage, storage management, disaster recovery (DR) and storage virtualization rank high.

Although controlling the IT budget is now the top priority among midmarket companies, the number planning storage initiatives nearly doubled from last year, according to a recent survey conducted by the Arrow Enterprise Computer Solutions (ECS) Midmarket Group.

Arrow ECS, a business segment of distributor Arrow Electronics Inc. that concentrates on midmarket companies, hired Echo Research to interview 200 U.S.-based IT CIOs and decision-makers at midsized companies for its second annual midmarket survey.

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Not surprisingly, reducing cost was the top priority of midmarket firms surveyed (increasing security topped the list last year), with 77% of respondents listing it as a priority. Only 29% said they expected to increase IT spending in 2009 -- the same number that said they expect to decrease spending -- while 40% expected spending to stay the same as last year. That's a gloomier picture than in the 2008 survey, when 90% forecasted their IT budgets would stay the same or increase.

Most (51%) listed storage among IT initiatives over the next six to 12 months, up from 26% last year. Data management -- including disaster recovery and email archiving -- was most frequently cited as an IT initiative over the next 12 months, with 61% mentioning it. That was followed by security (59%).

Robert Spee, director of marketing for the Arrow ECS midmarket and IBM groups, said storage initiatives had the biggest jump from last year of all IT projects planned.

"Data continues to grow," he said. "And storage virtualization is something we're seeing a lot of on the heels of server virtualization."

Storage virtualization was mentioned by 20% as a planned project, behind server (34%) and desktop (25%) virtualization. Other storage-related initiatives mentioned include network storage (31%), storage management (29%), data availability/DR (27%), email archiving (19%) and data deduplication (12%).

"Data deduplication is getting a lot of buzz but actually had a much lower ranking than network storage and storage management," Spee said. "It could be because we're in the early stages of data deduplication. We're definitely hearing about a lot of interest in dedupe from customers, but it ranked lower in terms of what they plan for the next six to 12 months."

Arrow ECS defines midmarket companies as those with 500 to 5,000 employees. The survey included companies in six sectors -- manufacturing, healthcare/health services, financial services, distribution/wholesale, professional services and retail -- that Spee says comprise 75% of IT spending in the midmarket.

Spee says Arrow ECS uses the IT budget survey results to help its VARs and system integrators plan service and product offerings for the midmarket.

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