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CIOs to boost spending on switching, plugging network breaches

Study of North American CIOs finds them ready to increase spending on WLANs, security and switching.

Security, wireless LANs (WLANs) and switching and routing will get the most attention from CIOs planning to increase spending on networking this year, a recent survey found.

Three quarters of CIOs expected to increase spending on security in general, with almost nine in 10 of them targeting network security and 78% the endpoint, the annual survey by Piper Jaffray revealed. Security was the No. 1 priority in IT budgets for the second consecutive year.

CIOs have become more focused on locking down networks in the face of high-profile network breaches. In November, cyber attackers struck Sony Pictures Entertainment, disabling computers and ransacking corporate data. Employees lost all email, contacts, distribution lists, budgets and other data stored on the network.

Other major network breaches occurred last year at the Albertson's and SUPERVALU supermarket chains, UPS, and Home Depot.

"CIOs clearly have heightened concerns from the many security breaches that occurred in 2014, resulting in an inflection in overall security spending," the survey said.

Respondents revealed that they were most likely to turn to top preferred security vendors like Symantec Corp., Cisco, Palo Alto Networks Inc., and FireEye Inc. in 2015.

CIOs' network, WLAN spending priorities

WLANs came in sixth on CIOs' budget priorities, with switching and routing coming in seventh, the survey found. Roughly four in 10 CIOs planned to boost spending in these two networking categories.

The additional spending in WLANs is due to the rising number of employees using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, according to Piper Jaffray. Mobility in general was the second-highest budget priority in the survey.

More than a third of CIOs cited networking as the area most in need of a technology refresh, up from about a quarter last year.

The vendor most preferred in 2015 by CIOs evaluating their networking and WLAN needs was Cisco, followed by Aruba Networks Inc. and F5 Networks Inc.

A majority of CIOs expected IT budgets in general to increase by more than 2% this year, while only 10% predicted a decrease, Piper Jaffray reported. Last year, nearly one in five CIOs expected lower IT budgets.

"Both the results from 2015 and 2014 paint a fairly optimistic picture when compared to 2013, when 24% of survey participants reported budget declines heading into the new year," the report said.

IT researcher Gartner expects global spending to grow by 3.9% this year, up from 2.6% in 2014.

The fatter budgets are due to an improving economy, the need to replace old technology and low interest rates, Piper Jaffray said.

Remaining top five priorities

Rounding out the top five spending priorities were cloud-based software, storage and servers. At the bottom of the list were application delivery controllers, PCs and WAN optimization products.

CIOs on average expected to spend 6% more on cloud-based applications year-to-year and 2% more on on-premises software. Top priorities included upgrades to infrastructure and enterprise resource planning systems. Microsoft and Oracle were the top preferred vendors.

The one area in which CIOs expected to spend less was storage. Only 51% of the executives planned to increase spending, down from 54% last year.

CIOs listed price and cost as the primary factors in choosing a vendor, with ease of use and support coming in at second and third, respectively.

Piper Jaffray surveyed 112 mostly North American CIOs across eight industries. Three quarters of the respondents were in the technology, retail and restaurant sectors, and roughly a quarter had IT budgets exceeding $50 million.

Next Steps

Top tips for defending the network against cyber attacks

Creating a basic toolkit for network security

Security testing for the wireless networks

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