The Spiceworks Review: All the IT budget numbers you need

Our monthly look at the popular online community for network admins shows where everyone’s spending, plus discussions on security and more

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Spiceworks 2015 IT Budget report

IT pros face several challenges over the year ahead, but most aren’t expecting any big budget increases. In Spiceworks forums over the past month, there was plenty of talk about the year ahead — and how to resolve problems with existing resources.

IT departments aren’t expected to have a lot of excess cash this year, but it won’t be a case of the IT Hunger Games either, according to the Spiceworks 2015 IT Budget Report, which surveyed hundreds of global members.

Only 33 per cent of members expect budgets to increase, while at the same time facing big hurdles ahead, such as Windows 2003 migrations and growing security threats, says Peter Tsai, IT content guy (yes, that’s his title) at Spiceworks.

Another obstacle is dealing with aging hardware. Surprisingly, 27 per cent of computers in the anonymized Spiceworks aggregate network are seven-plus years old and an additional 35 per cent are four to six years old. “That’s a lot of boxes past their prime that should have gone into retirement years ago,” said Tsai.

When it comes to growing security threats, highly publicized breaches of late have brought security back into mainstream headlines. A popular Spiceworks thread discussed how a seven-year-old girl, Betsy Davies, was able to use instructions she found through a quick Google search to set up a rogue access point — in less than 11 minutes.

Jshowa responds by saying his network traffic is encrypted with WPA2 (TKIP+AES) and he doesn’t use the default router passwords, so “if she wants to see a lot of heavily encrypted traffic, that’s fine by me.” As Brian683 points out, “First off — this is cool! That generation might get around to fixing some of this stuff, if enough of them take any interest in security.”

The lesson, says Spiceworks managing editor Lee Schlesinger, is to take steps to protect confidential information — whether at work, at home or on the road.

This time of year, weather is just as much a threat as hackers. Member Jason Smith asked how IT pros prepare for blizzard conditions — whether triple-checking backup systems to ensure uptime or putting in additional VPN connections for a surge in remote workers.

Dave4113 recommends treating weather conditions like any other disaster: “Make sure your DR plan is up-to-date, and working. You should already have what the corporate expectations are for disasters so if you do not have enough VPN licenses the business already knows and accepts this.”

Emerson1 advises IT pros to make sure the UPS is charged, the backups are done and the VPN is up and running. “Most importantly make sure the wineskin is full, the toboggans, GT snow racers, and snowboards are waxed up and enjoy the snow day, because you know the power is going to go out, and the UPS is only going to last so long anyway.”

With all these security and DR concerns, it’s important to keep a cool head. So IT director D Zee explains how to move from a reactive break/fix panic mode to a calmer IT department.

“Chances are that, like me, IT support from your management team extends to wanting IT problems to go away,” he said, “but not necessarily to spending a significant amount of money to do it.” D Zee details five steps for getting out of the trap of reacting to daily emergencies and moving IT systems to a more manageable state to improve your platform — not just maintain it.

RodneyMc sums it up best: “I frequently tell people that a boring network takes a lot of work!”

 

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