Survey: Security doesn't escape the IT spending axe

The RSA show kicks off Tuesday in San Francisco and one of the larger questions will be focused on attendance. Will the Moscone Center be a morgue?

The RSA show kicks off Tuesday in San Francisco and one of the larger questions will be focused on attendance. Will the Moscone Center be a morgue?

That take may be a bit dramatic. After all, security spending is immune to the IT spending slowdown. And what tech executive would cut a security budget?

Well, a Goldman Sachs chief security officer survey indicates that spending isn't immune from a slowdown.

In August 2008, Goldman's survey concluded that 2009 would feature security spending growth would be in the mid-single digits. Now respondents are predicting a 2 percent decline on security spending. That's better than the 9 percent decline in overall IT spending, but still sobering considering security spending was once considered untouchable.

Meanwhile, Goldman's first read on security spending in 2010 is also muted.

A few takeaways:

  • Customers are wary of security maintenance fees---like all software buyers. Almost all respondents are trying to renegotiate maintenance contracts and 68 percent of them have been successful.
  • Security buyers---52 percent of respondents---are focusing on suites. Chief security officers are consolidating spending with Symantec.
  • Cloud computing, data security and compliance requirements are growth areas in security.
  • "Respondents are not optimistic about a rapid snap-back to security spending growth in 2010; only 12 percent expect budgets to increase more than 10 percent, and 21 percent expect further spending declines."
  • "A total of 78 percent of CSOs in our survey are seeing great ability to negotiate on price with vendors, up from 70 percent in our last survey in August 2008. Only 10 percent of our respondents are not seeing any vendor flexibility on price."

By the charts:

The overall budget picture.

Headcount is under pressure.

You can negotiate a 1 percent to 10 percent decrease in maintenance costs.

The vendor scorecard: Symantec, Juniper/Netscreen and Microsoft are gaining wallet share. Respondents saying Symantec was gaining share checked in at 37 percent, up from 30 percent in the previous survey.

And what security execs are spending their budgets on: