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CIOs face additional pressures

CIOs face additional pressures

The problems CIOs are facing during this time of economic turmoil

Last year we talked about CIOs - who are both the masters and the victims of doubletalk and who are under enormous pressure to provide more to their users and at the same time, trying to keep spending under control.

We thought we would check in with our CIO buddy Manny Fernandez, not to be confused with another of the same name who is as popular in Boston as Bucky Dent (don't ask). (See a slideshow on what tech execs are saying about the economy.)

How's your budget process going?

Awful. I thought I had the mandate to spend 4 percent more than last year... but that's on hold. We used to spend about 6 percent on IT/communications... but it looks like it could be 4.5 percent to 5 percent this year. Management keeps making cute little comments about "sharing the pain" and "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without". (See story about the economy freezing budgets.)

Problem?

You bet. Storage is like a tapeworm; each year it takes more and more of my budget. So I do the short term cutesy things - like delaying LAN upgrades, cutting outside consulting services and virtualizing my servers. But there is a limit.

Virtualize PCs?

Not yet. But someday someplace we have to figure out how to throw away some data. Everyone is paranoid. Right now our storage is growing 50 percent per year in terabytes. We try to rationalize all the time - without taking risks. But we are soon going to be off our mainframes. We said "death to Linux" and we don't support Apple. Right now we are 70% laptops and that trend isn't going to stop. So far we have avoided supporting BlackBerries and iPhones (and soon Google-phones) but that is going to be a losing battle; those suckers are really computers.

New applications?

Not many. We are still deploying what we started two years ago. But we are looking more closely at teleconferencing again. This happens every time we cut travel budgets inside the corporation. We still have a lot of underutilized hardware. We will see.

More outsourcing? Offshoring?

We got really down on outsourcing a few years ago - but we have moved a fair amount of support to Bangalore and Hyderabad. Application development hasn't been as easy as we thought. Outsourcing is like the flu; as soon as the economy gets socked, it comes back.

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