Staffing Software Purchases Could Increase

Although a new survey found that most small and medium businesses are holding onto their servers and laptops longer, many are planning to make significant investments in new hardware and software, which could include staffing software, during the next six months.

Spiceworks, Inc. recently revealed its Q3 survey of more than 1,000 IT professionals, which was designed to investigate current technology purchasing, usage and software trends.

Many companies are planning to make new purchases and new hires despite the fact that 39 percent of companies cut budgets from 2008 to this year, with an average cut of 22 percent. About 31 percent of companies kept budgets the same and 30 percent increased budgets by 27 percent.

Despite that, IT hiring among small and medium businesses is expected to grow, with 22 percent of companies planning to hire additional full-time or part-time staff and only 3 percent planning to further reduce staff during the next six months.

The survey found that 51 percent of small and medium businesses are planning to purchase new software. Security and anti-spam solutions top the list, with 32 percent of companies planning to purchase them within the next six months. Of those, only 35 percent plan to buy cloud-based offerings.

About 44 percent of companies are using virtualization solutions and 21 percent of their total server computing capacity is virtualized. About 30 percent of companies plan to deploy or expand virtualization in their networks.

Of the respondents, 25 percent are planning to purchase backup and recovery software within the next six months. Of those, 75 percent plan to store data on premise, while 25 percent plan to use a cloud-based storage solution. About 42 percent of data will be stored on network-attached storage or storage area network devices, while 38 percent will be stored in direct-attached and local storage, 7 percent will be hosted offsite and 13 percent on tape and other media.

About 57 percent of companies currently use one or more cloud computing service, with the three most popular in use or on purchase lists including anti-span at 43 percent, hosted e-mail at 25 percent and online backup at 20 percent.

The survey further found that small and medium businesses are trying to get an extra year of usage out of their hardware. The average planned lifespan of hardware, which includes desktops, laptops and servers, rose from 40 months to 50 months, an increase of 26 percent.

However, 68 percent of small and medium businesses plan to add new hardware to their networks during the next six months. Among hardware purchasing priorities, 56 percent plan to buy desktops, 55 percent plan to buy laptops, 45 percent plan to purchase a new server, 31 percent plan to add printers and 27 percent plan to buy new network devices. Only 13 percent plan to buy netbooks.

The average new hardware order is expected to include 13 desktops, 10 laptops and two servers. Hardware remains the biggest IT budget item, with small and medium businesses planning to spend 37 percent of their annual budgets refreshing and expanding physical infrastructure.

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