Help is in the pipeline for information technology (IT) departments at small and mid-size businesses (SMB), according to a new survey. SMB IT budgets are growing at the fastest rate (8 percent) since 2009 and one-third of firms plan on hiring new IT staff over the next 18 months.
The average SMB technology budget will be $132,000 this year, according to a semi-annual survey conducted by Spiceworks, a software developer and online IT community. Nearly one-third (29 percent) of SMB IT professionals are seeing larger budgets while only 19 percent reported shrinking budgets, down from 31 percent 18 months ago.
Companies with fewer than 20 employees are leading the coming hiring binge, with 33 percent of these firms saying they’re in a hiring mode. Further up the SMB food chain, hiring will be less vigorous. About 17 percent of companies with between 20 and 99 employees said they would add IT staff and 18 percent of companies with more than 100 workers said their IT departments would grow.
Only 5 percent of the more than 3,000 IT professional surveyed worldwide said they would reduce head counts this year.
Where’s this new largesse going? When the IT budget is sliced and diced, 40 percent will go for hardware, 34 percent for software and 26 percent for hosted or cloud IT solutions. The big winner in the coming months will be virtualization, the use of virtual servers, operating systems and software in place of the actual. Three out of four SMB IT professionals (74 percent) plan virtualization projects by midyear.
Of those SMBs using virtualization today (52 percent), over half use it for core applications such as web servers and databases .
“After 18 months of a prolonged ‘winter’ in the SMB IT world, it finally looks like SMBs are experiencing a true thaw of their own,” the Spiceworks analysts wrote in their report.