Whether it's the worst of times or best of times, IT organizations always seem to be under duress. Today, they don't have enough people on hand to support the business because of layoffs. When the economy was hot, they didn't have enough people to keep up with all the demand for their services.
When we look back at this current cycle of boom or bust in IT, a lot of people will probably remember it most as being a time of IT renewal. Instead of rapidly deploying new systems, most IT organizations for the past year or more have been much more interested in fixing what they have.
This has resulted in more interest in things like recent updates to Unix operating system from Hewlett-Packard that add more security features and ways to extend COBOL applications out to the Web. The bad news for vendors is that it's made it a very tough time to sell anything new. For instance, new blade server architectures are finding it difficult to gain traction because customers are just not all that interested in anything that amounts to a fork-lift upgrade.
Some of these issues all explain all the interest vendors have in acquiring services companies. Customers may not be all that interested in acquiring new products, but they are keen to use any service that helps them get more mileage out of their existing IT investments.
For IT organizations, the downturn should also have provided some of the necessary respite to rethink how they deliver their own IT services. That means finding more structured approaches to delivering services using best practices typically defined by standards such as ITIL and investing when possible in IT automation tools that allow the IT organization to be more efficient.
Alas, the time IT organizations have left to get their houses in order is running out. We're already hearing the rumblings of an economic engine that is starting to revive. And while it may be a while before it gets a full head of steam, IT organizations need to start thinking about how they will support a business in better times ahead, and perhaps just as importantly, when the next inevitable economic collapse happens as well.