SMB IT Focuses On Security, Disaster Recovery As Economy Sours

disaster recovery

That's the upshot of a new report from Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass., that projects SMB IT spending patterns for 2008, based on a survey of 1,019 IT managers at North American SMBs conducted in late 2007, just as the economic downturn began. "SMBs, in general, are trying to streamline their operations, both from a business and an IT perspective," said Forrester analyst Michael Speyer in an interview.

Implementing technology for data backup, disaster recovery and IT security, all for what Speyer called "keeping the IT shop lights on," appears to be the current priority for IT managers at SMBs. Significantly upgrading disaster recovery capabilities was cited as a "high priority" by 28 percent of survey respondents while another 20 percent called it a "critical priority." Combined, that's four percent above survey results one year earlier.

Likewise, 33 and 13 percent, respectively, said upgrading their security environment was a "high" and a "critical" priority, up six percent from a year earlier.

Small and mid-size businesses are also trying to squeeze more value out of their IT assets, consolidate IT systems and reduce complexity within their IT infrastructures. Speyer said those initiatives present opportunities for solution providers that work with virtualization technology, particularly for servers and storage systems, but eventually for desktop systems as well.

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Speyer also expects demand to increase for network-attached storage products, instead of direct-attached storage, and for IT infrastructure management tools in general. And with the volume of data that's being generated and stored today the analyst said data management tools would also be in demand. Perhaps surprisingly, Speyer also foresees continued demand for business intelligence and collaboration software to make better use of those data assets.

Spending for software will predominantly focus on upgrading and replacing legacy systems, the survey found. While spending for long-planned big IT projects will proceed because they have already been budgeted for, Speyer says SMBs will cut back on discretionary spending for PC upgrades or that second printer they had been considering.

To be successful, solution providers will have to look closely at their own core competencies and bring cost-saving solutions to their customers instead of waiting for the customers to call them. But marketing has never been a strong point for many solution providers, Speyer says. "They are going to have to get creative."