SMBs to increase IT spending in second half of year, survey reports

Virtualization usage to grow; most respondents plan to maintain IT staffing levels

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Small and medium-sized businesses plan to spend 4 percent more on IT in the latter half of 2010 than in the first six months, according to a survey of enterprise professionals by Spiceworks, a maker of IT management software.

Spiceworks issues a semiannual report on technology purchasing, usage, and staffing trends among SMBs worldwide. The latest survey included more than 3,000 respondents (from organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees) in 117 countries.

Here are some highlights:

* The average annual IT budget for SMBs in the second half of 2010 was $121,770, up 4 percent from the $117,200 in the first half of the year.

* Virtualization continues to spread across the SMB landscape. The survey shows that 68 percent of respondents say they'll use some form of virtualization by the end of the year, up from 63 percent in the first half of 2010. Spiceworks reports that 52 percent of SMB IT pros now use virtualization, up from 44 percent at the beginning of the year.

* Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of SMB IT professionals expect to maintain current staffing levels through the rest of the year, while 20 percent anticipate adding full-time IT staff by year's end.

* The largest chunk of IT budgets for the rest of the year -- 42 percent -- is expected to be spent on hardware. That's down from 47 percent in the first six months of 2010.

* More than one-third of IT budgets (35 percent) will go toward software expenditures, respondents said. Top choice is antivirus/anti-spam software, which 67 percent of IT pros surveyed indicating plans to invest further in antivirus/anti-spam security.

* Spending on hosted IT services is expected to decline, with 48 percent of respondents reporting plans to purchase at least one IT service, down from 56 percent in the first half of the year.

Sounds like cautious optimism in the SMB IT universe.

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