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Hot Spots: Storage services groups

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Welcome to the crunch
The days of double digit growth in the IT budget are gone for a while--if not forever. Recent surveys by Forrester Research and IDC project that IT budgets will remain flat in 2003. Given the uncertain economy and geopolitical instability, only a fool would venture a guess at what will occur in 2004. This means CIOs must do more with less and increase the efficiency of IT. In an Information Week survey of IT executives, 85% of CIOs said that getting better return on IT capital investment was among their top five priorities.

These financial trends have several important ramifications for storage services. First, storage service groups are competing for precious budget dollars with networking, application development, security, etc. According to Morgan Stanley, storage is low on the list. In its survey of CIOs, storage hardware ranked as their 12th priority, while storage software ranked 23rd.

To deal with this reality, make sure that plans for storage requirements, capacity growth and staffing are conservative and rigorous. Remember: There won't be any money in the kitty for surprises down the line. You should select key vendors and work with them for discount and financing options.

One other thing to bear in mind--the storage services group isn't in it alone. Every functional area within IT is impacted by the new fiscal policies. While this will drive competition for budget dollars, it also

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means that other groups will be developing similar service models to drive efficiency out of their own groups.

Smart storage service managers will check with peers to explore for new ideas and common ground. How will the networking group do its billing? What metrics will the systems group use to gauge customer satisfaction? How will telecom do reporting? The answers to these questions may help deliver storage services faster and cheaper while they establish consistency across disparate IT services.

The structure of IT is transforming and priorities are radically changing. This transformation will take place on a consistent shoestring budget for some time to come. Savvy storage service managers will stay ahead of these trends through a continuous effort of planning, training and cooperation with their peers.

This was first published in February 2003

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