Forecast 2014

Forecast 2014: How to wring value from your IT budget

Hosted services will reign in 2014, but IT leaders will be challenged to accomplish everything while still containing costs.

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Wireless Budgets Up

The surge in use of mobile devices has turned connectivity in general and wireless upgrades in particular into IT budget priorities, with funds earmarked for RFID, remote access, Wi-Fi, mobile/wireless devices and mobile device management, among other things.

At Texas A&M Kingsville, wireless networking will receive the largest share of the university's 2014 IT budget. "Our version of wireless is probably five years old, and nobody has thought about all these wireless devices, just laptops," Paulson says. "Now there's a huge demand for more wireless. No more access points just at the corners of the building. Now you have to cover everywhere."

Havener plans to deploy a mobile device management (MDM) system at Texas Multicore in 2014 to handle bring-your-own-device traffic from its 108 staffers across the globe.

"I've got a variety of developers, engineers and scientists worldwide who are looking for the easiest way to connect to our internal resources," he says. "I've got folks through academia who are very Apple-based, and there are the engineers who are heavily biased toward Linux environments or mainframe supercomputing, and then a bunch of business and marketing folks focused on classic Windows. So [an MDM system] would provide a seamless transition for all those folks to attach to our resources and get out of it what they need. It will define what we provide, how we provide it and what they need to do to access it."

The budget isn't budging next year at the Bridgeport, Conn., public school system. Still, CIO David Andrade will spend 30% of his 2014 IT budget on upgrading network connections and increasing Wi-Fi capabilities in 39 buildings.

"We have 100Mbps switches in our buildings, and we need to upgrade those to gigabit switches to increase the bandwidth," Andrade explains. "We have some Wi-Fi coverage but are adding thousands of mobile devices and need to add access points and bandwidth" to accommodate more than 15,000 desktops, laptops, Chromebooks and other wireless devices.

Gartner also expects to see a huge uptick in network equipment replacements. The equipment that was purchased and installed even a year ago can't handle the growth in mobile data, Lovelock says. Further down the road, the growth in mobile usage will have a "'trickle effect' -- do I have enough servers, storage, bandwidth, applications and security to handle mobile?" Lovelock says.

Big Data Still a Big Deal

Business analytics are also on the shortlist of top IT purchase plans for 2014. Spending priorities include big data, enterprise analytics, data mining and business intelligence tools.

Investments in big data technology like Hadoop and MapReduce will command 45% to 60% of the IT budget at Texas Multicore. "It's a solution that we really haven't exploited yet, and we see tremendous potential in that environment," says Havener. "So adjusting technologies and taking advantage of what it can provide will be significant. We're also very aware that it's limited in its capabilities. A lot of folks talk about how slow and how challenging it is to do a Hadoop query. But we can speed that up through in-memory and some development capabilities that we have in-house on the order of six to 12 times faster than standard Hadoop. So we see a great opportunity there."

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