Over the past year, IT security has jumped to the top of the list of spending priorities for CIOs. Steve Butler examines these security spending initiatives

By Steve Butler

According to a recent report from IDC, worldwide IT security spending is forecast to nearly double in size over the next three years, to reach $45 billion in revenues by 2006.

Breaking down the market by segment, IDC estimates that security hardware sales will increase by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25% between 2001 and 2006, ahead of security services and software, which are forecast to grow by CAGRs of 24% and 16%, respectively.

Without question, IT security has vaulted to the top of many companies’ IT agendas, as multiple surveys show that IT professionals consistently list security as one of their top three spending priorities.

For example, 40% of the nearly 1,000 IT executives surveyed by IDC in July 2002 listed security as their highest priority, while 40% of the 250 CIOs surveyed by Morgan Stanley in November 2002 said that security software was their leading spending priority heading into the new year.

In a third survey of IT executives that was conducted by Deutsche Bank and CIO Magazine in November 2002, 55.9% of respondents said that they planned to increase security software spending over the next twelve months. By comparison, for most other IT spending categories such as computer hardware or network equipment, no more than 40% of respondents said they planned to increase spending in 2003.

As for specific IT security projects that businesses have prioritized, one study by Aladdin Knowledge Systems found that antispam, antivirus and intrusion detection systems were among the leading security technologies that IT professionals were evaluating in late 2002.

Interestingly, in a separate study of the wider IT security and business continuity solutions market, IDC noted that following the terrorist attacks on 11 September, there was an initial spike in many companies’ interest in security and business continuity solutions, but several businesses were largely unsure of how they should prioritize their IT security spending.

According to IDC’s latest findings, the ensuing period of strategic evaluation has come to an end, as businesses are now better prepared to move forward with IT security spending initiatives.

Recent analysis from the Gartner Group supports these findings. Gartner believes that in 2003, businesses will move away from the purchase of �best of breed� point solutions for IT security, and instead invest in hardware-based platforms that perform a variety of security capabilities. This trend suggests that companies have indeed adopted a more integrated approach to their IT security strategies.

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