IT expenditures haven't really moved the needle this year, with spending levels flat compared to last year. Last summer, Gartner revised its year-over-year growth forecasts from 3.2 percent down to 2.1 percent, and had settled on 2.6 percent as of the third quarter. That's up from the 0 percent change between 2012 and 2013 but it's nothing to write home about.
Going into 2015, there could be an uptick as organizations invest in everything from cloud-based cybersecurity to agile continuous integration solutions. Agility in general remains an important goal for many service providers and enterprises looking to keep pace with hyperscale firms that are unencumbered by legacy infrastructure.
Agility as a cornerstone of business success
Over the last decade, companies like Facebook and Google have reinvented IT in their own images. Rather than rely on traditional IT practices that might feature provisioning times of weeks or even months - almost half of respondents to an EMA survey reported that provisioning took anywhere from 5 days to a month - these organizations have implemented custom infrastructure and efficient DevOps automation.
Of course, they had the advantage of being able to start from scratch, without 20- or 30-year-old mission-critical systems to weave into their processes. This approach isn't an option for many organizations struggling with both their infrastructure and slow spending growth in the IT department.
With legacy infrastructure challenges in front of IT, making sense of its different silos and components is more important than ever. Ironically, becoming agile means evolving IT from a stance of being the guardians of stability against the forces of chaos around all this complexity to facilitating technical collaboration between other stakeholders such as developers, testers and security teams in order to establish a new pace for the business at large and better application outcomes. Hence we have movements like DevOps.
Another way that IT differs from hyperscale companies is in its personnel composition. Hyperscale companies are comprised primarily of coders. IT.is comprised primarily of vendor-certified domain experts. All those coders can create and maintain sophisticated automation approaches for managing their modern, API-enabled infrastructure. IT engineers are at a disadvantage by comparison.
DevOps infrastructure orchestration tools can ameliorate this challenge. With intuitive interfaces and plenty of prepackaged libraries, these solutions ultimately pay for themselves and help IT work around limited budgets and shifting priorities. Having economical, powerful tools will be vital as many firms look to either ramp up spending on cloud computing or simplify infrastructure management and make savings in 2015. Some large organizations may be able to foot the bill for new cloud initiatives, but others, including most small and midsize businesses, will still need a sensible way past infrastructure challenges.
The takeaway: IT spending has been anemic in recent years. Under pressure to match the achievements of hyperscale organizations, service providers and enterprises must find tools that can automate any type of infrastructure and enable business agility.