There is one little thing you’re missing from your IT budget. While it impacts manpower most of all, you’ll be feeling it throughout your budget, and see signs of it in other departments as well. You should plan for it, because it is nearly a guarantee that it will continue to impact your budgeting for the next year or so.

It’s not SOA. SOA had its day in the sun, and though Cloud will give it a little bit more, it is pretty much baked into the budgets of those organizations using it, and not even on the radar of those who are not at this point.

It’s not Virtualization. Virtualization is mondo cool, but it’s hit that “take a breather” point at most organizations, and intriguingly increased budgets at some, those where receiving quicker response time and less overhead means the business is willing to invest more in IT.

It’s not Cloud. Cloud is on the horizon for most mid-to-large size organizations, but isn’t yet driving budgeting, and may never drive budgeting, since your local network and user desktops don’t go away in any cloud-based scenario. Expect that it will shift some dollars, and in the short term will add some dollars (you are paying for something off-site before you can remove anything on-site), but it won’t cause budget constraints other than defending why you’re still paying Cisco for your core router – which of course you still need, but you’ll have to explain why.

It’s not ADCs. They make you  more adaptable and make it easier to take advantage of all of the really cool bits of Cloud and SOA, but they are an expense that you will have to justify like any other – no more or less – if you don’t already own one.

It’s not increasing storage needs, that trend has been going on forever, and if you’re willing to put dedupe and compression into place on your main storage boxes – both tiers one and two – you’ll not be buying storage next year unless you really use a lot of storage. So there’s a possible savings in it for you even.

It’s not File Virtualization, while it is increasingly being adopted, it will result in a slightly larger expenditure on deployment, but with savings on storage, you  won’t even notice it… If you’re compressing and deduping your data.

It’s taxes. We in IT don’t often think about taxes and their impact upon us as a department, but it is time to buckle down. Next year is going to be expensive, as are the years after it until the deficit is under control. Remember that for every dollar the company takes out of an employee’s check, they match it. So any increase in payroll taxes is a takedown of your budget, and that does not count corporate income taxes or new taxes/mandated expenses that are coming. And I think we’re all pretty much agreed at this point that no matter what you think of how/why it was spent, the amount that taxes will impact the organization next year is “definitely bigger but unquantifiable”.  That means the budgeting cycle is going to be brutal if your fiscal year matches or even comes close to the calendar year. You are going to be asked to wring every possible penny out of your budget that you can, with promises that it will be placed back in once the impact of all of the regulatory changes going on are known. I’m not cynical, I’m a realist. The money won’t be put back into your budget, at best it will be a deferred expense to the following fiscal year, more likely once you cut it, the money is gone unless you can justify putting it back against intense pressure.

So think about it, plan ahead. It is going to  impact your organization and your department. Plan on what projects/expenses can be foregone, so you know going into the budgeting cycle how far you can bend, and you don’t get blind-sided. And figure out what your minimum hiring might look like. I truly hope you don’t need that minimum hiring plan, but it’s good to understand where IT services start to slip, and be able to elucidate that to other managers.

And if you’re in state or local government, brace for it, times are about to get tougher. Find ways to be more adaptable, because you’ll be lucky if you can continue with what you have, most likely you will be forced to absorb cuts. Property taxes went down with property values and defaults, and income taxes are directly impacted by unemployment rates, so the money coming in is going to be less than it has been, at least for the next year, probably longer. Think lean IT, and seek out products that let you do more with less staff.

Of course, I think F5 products should be on everyone’s must have list, but I might be just a tiny bit biased.

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