Gartner: Cloud Computing Services, Virtualization Top CIO 2011 Wish Lists

And cloud computing is followed closely by virtualization as the No. 2 top tech priority.

Gartner's recent CIO survey, which was conducted from September 2010 to December 2010, found that CIO's budget predictions for 2011 are flat globally. New IT models like cloud computing and virtualization will force CIOs to re-imagine IT and could lead to CIOs reducing costs and drive growth amid flattened budgets, according to Gartner.

The heightened attention CIOs pay to cloud computing services and virtualization open the door for solution providers to engage CIOs and highlight the savings and effectiveness inherent in cloud computing services and solutions.

"CIOs and IT have been boxed in between modest budget growth and growing legacy requirements," Mark McDonald, group vice president and head of research for Gartner Executive Programs, said in a statement. "New lighter-weight technologies -- such as cloud computing, software as a service (SaaS), and social networks -- and IT models enable the CIO to redefine IT, giving it a greater focus on growth and strategic impact. These are two things that are missing from many organizations."

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According to Gartner's findings, CIOs will adopt cloud computing services at a swifter pace than originally predicted. Gartner said 3 percent of CIOs currently have the majority of their IT environments running in the cloud or on SaaS technologies, but over the next four years that is expected to jump to 43 percent.

"The resource realities indicated in the 2011 CIO Agenda Survey raise the urgency and importance of adopting new infrastructure and operations technologies, such as cloud services and virtualization," Mr. McDonald said. "These technologies were selected by CIOs the most often and are the top-two technologies for 2011 and are well-suited for this budget reality, as they offer similar service levels at lower budget costs."

And while CIO's don't foresee their IT budgets recovering to pre-recession levels, Gartner found that cloud computing services and other new IT endeavors will help CIOs reallocate IT budge savings to fund infrastructure changes and new projects.

CIOs said that increased enterprise growth is a top priority in 2011. Growth is followed by attracting and retaining new customers, cutting enterprise costs, creating new products and services and improving business processes.

With cloud computing services and virtualization holding the top spots in CIOs' 2011 technology priorities, mobile technologies, IT management and business intelligence rounded out the top five key 2011 tech imperatives.

"Over the next five years, CIOs expect dramatic changes in IT as they adopt new technologies and raise their contribution to competitive advantage," McDonald said. "Leaders will implement new infrastructure technologies to achieve increased efficiency and to redirect IT resources to create greater business impact. Pursuit of that leadership agenda will raise complex issues ranging from re-imaging IT's role in their organization to the creative destruction necessary to break old practices and redeploy resources to new initiatives."