Everything in the world can now be divided into ‘before COVID’ and ‘after COVID,’ and that includes IT spending. The pandemic is dramatically altering enterprise IT budgets. Put simply, organizations are allocating more money to move their operations to the cloud, with work-from-home (WFH) as the dominant driver.
Even way back in 2020 B.C. (that’s ‘before COVID-19,’ and doesn’t three or four months ago seem like ancient history now?), the shift to cloud was well underway. New research suggests the pandemic is accelerating that trend, big time.
IT budgets flow into cloud
IDG’s 2020 cloud computing survey was conducted right before the novel coronavirus triggered the current worldwide economic recession, but even then, 59 per cent of enterprise tech buyers said they planned to be “mostly” or “all” in the cloud within 18 months, up from 38 per cent who said they were “all” or “mostly” in the cloud today.
Polls taken after the start of the pandemic show coronavirus has hastened the shift to the cloud. A recent MariaDB survey of 559 enterprise tech managers in France, Germany, the U.S. and U.K. revealed that:
- 40% are currently accelerating their move to the cloud
- 51% plan to move more applications to the cloud specifically in anticipation of a “second wave” of COVID-19
- 39% expect to be 100% in the cloud (no time frame was specified in the survey)
- 32% are starting a move to the cloud
In that same survey, 57 per cent plan to set up remote access for all their employees, while 46 per cent intend to implement “forever WFH” strategies in their organizations.
Other data from Canalys indicate worldwide spending on cloud infrastructure services grew 34 per cent year-over-year in Q1 (the start of the global pandemic), hitting a record US$31 billion.
So we know a lot more investment is flowing into the cloud as a direct result of COVID-19. But how will that affect parts of enterprise IT which, as a result, now have to make do with a smaller portion of the technology budget?
Where the money isn’t going
After the initial, understandable rush to divert healthcare resources into treating and preventing COVID-19, medical experts started thinking about the impact of that diversion on other parts of the healthcare system.
For example, people with potentially serious conditions are not seeking medical help for fear of catching COVID-19 in a doctor’s office or hospital. Furthermore, thousands of surgeries and other crucial procedures have been cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus prevention measures.
It makes me wonder, in an enterprise technology context: with so much money and attention being poured into cloud, what other parts of IT could go wanting in the meantime?
Lopsided security spending
The rush to enable WFH for employees has made VPNs, mobile device management (MDM) and other remote cybersecurity tools a bigger priority for many CIOs and CTOs over the past three months. Yet Gartner expects overall global cybersecurity spending to grow by just 2.4 per cent in 2020, down sharply from 8.7 per cent growth last year.
A closer dive into the numbers, however, reveals the forecast is grossly lopsided—the spending outlook heavily favours cloud security while leaving network security equipment a little threadbare. Take a look at some of Gartner’s growth projections for 2020 cybersec spending:
- 3%: cloud security
- 8%: infrastructure protection
- 2%: application security
- 2%: data security
- -12.6%: network security equipment
As Gartner spells out in its accompanying research note, “networking security equipment, including firewall equipment and intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), will be most severely impacted by spending cuts this year.”
It makes sense (particularly the move away from hardware equipment), given the new emphasis on moving stuff to the cloud. Yet one would hope this gigantic imbalance in security investment doesn’t create gaping cybersec holes in some areas of enterprise IT.
Just because you’re planning to move into a new house, you don’t start leaving all the doors and windows unlocked at the house you still live in. Do you?