IT Shows Recession Resilience

Arthur Cole
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The rest of the economy may be down, but IT continues to weather the storm better than most industrial sectors. Organizations around the world show no signs of tightening their IT wallets, particularly when it comes to replacing old, static architectures with more flexible virtual and cloud technologies.

Gartner recently pegged worldwide IT spending for 2012 at $2.7 trillion, about $100 billion, or 3.9 percent, over this year. Much of this growth will be driven by the cloud and the adoption of social network technologies as a means to keep IT infrastructure in step with broader consumer and communications platforms. As Gartner analyst Peter Sondergaard points out, IT remains one of the engines of business growth in the worldwide economy.

To be sure, the 3.9 percent growth figure is a significant drop from the 5.6 percent growth projected for 2011, a reflection of the fact that IT has proven resistant but not immune to economic doldrums. It's also true that advancements like virtualization and high-speed networking are helping to improve system and architecture capability even as it cuts down on hardware infrastructure costs.

It also seems that the cloud will assume a greater role in enterprise data environments more quickly than anyone realized. The Open Data Center Alliance reports that its more than 300 members are poised to triple their current cloud deployments over the next two years - far more than even the most robust private forecasts. The group says its membership is quickly overcoming many of the security and availability qualms surrounding cloud architectures, particularly as new standards are put in place.

But it's not only advanced technologies on the receiving end of such enterprise largesse. Vanilla technologies like hard disk drives continue to see robust demand, which could become problematic in the coming year considering the recent flooding in Thailand has hampered manufacturing. Both IHS iSuppli and IDC say shortages could run as high as 28 percent as producers like Western Digital see upwards of three quarters of its manufacturing capability go dark. And while availability is likely to affect consumers to a greater degree than enterprises, price increases could still hit 10 percent across the board.

In times of economic uncertainty, it is very difficult to predict what will happen next month let alone over the next year. Consensus has it that the world economy will continue to limp along for much of the next decade followed by a sustained recovery.

But who knows? Things could be a whole lot worse than the experts think, or they could be a whole lot better.

One thing is for sure, however: The track that IT systems development is on now - increased capability with lower TCO - should keep the industry on a steady course in good times and bad.

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