It's that time of year again — time for IT to lay out plans for next year and prepare for budget discussions. Here are 10 items that are likely to top enterprise IT shopping lists for 2015.
1: WAN optimization
With the rush of new web-enabled applications for customers and employees doing business in the field, corporate IT must concern itself with internal network health — as well as the quality of the end-user experience on the internet itself. New IT investments will be made in network end devices that measure "outside traffic" and in cloud-based solutions that can patrol internet traffic throughout the world, rerouting traffic when necessary.
2: Big data
Investment will continue in big data solutions in the data center and in the hiring of business analysts and data analysts with big data skills. This investment will be characterized with more movement toward using real time big data streams and implementing automation that can take advantage of the Internet of Things.
Enterprises will continue migration to a hybrid cloud environment that mixes on premises, private cloud, and public cloud solutions. The use of cloud, especially to address external business processes and other gritty issues that have eluded internal enterprise systems for years, will be used by IT to speed solutions to market for the competitive benefit of the business.
As more IT shops work to increase collaboration and co-development between application developers and system software specialists, vendors will answer with toolsets that can automatically set up and deploy underlying systems infrastructure. This will allow developers to focus more on top-level business coding. Investments will be made because of the potential to speed applications to market and to hedge against shortfalls in deeper level systems skills that many IT staffs are starting to experience.
Enterprises will continue to invest in mobile devices and in the development of mobile business applications for internal employee use and for external use by customers. They are also likely to look for new hires with mobile application development skills.
Virtualization of hardware has been a stalwart in data centers for more than a decade. In 2015, there will be an equivalent effort in virtualizing infrastructure software as well. The goal in virtualizing software is to further ratchet down licensing costs. Any software virtualization tool that can facilitate this is likely to find budget dollars.
7: Digital assets
Enterprises will be looking to value and to monetize their digital assets, whether they come in the form of a website, a social media presence, content development and management, or new applications that perform in the digital universe. Many companies will formalize this process by hiring digital managers who can focus on a digital asset approach that combines IT and technology investment with marketing and sales channels, revenue, and brand development.
8: Data center facilities
A major contributor to corporate sustainability initiatives is the data center. Cooling and heating systems and facility construction improvements will be funded to facilitate joint facilities and IT projects that are focused on reducing data center energy consumption.
Rapid deployment of web-facing and mobile applications and the establishment of BYOD (bring your own device) policies will prompt many businesses to set aside extra budget dollars for security and IT policy and governance audits.
10: Data center automation
IT will continue to fund and implement automation in the data center that controls energy consumption and enables the running of "lights out" operations in nightly batch job runs, data archiving and storage, backups and system synchronization for purposes of business continuation and rapid failover.
- IT Budgeting 2015: Planning the Next Stage (ZDNet special feature)
- Executive's guide to the modern IT budget (free ebook)
Is your organization planning for areas of spending that didn't make this list? What are your priority items for 2015?
Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print.