A year ago, IT spending fell off a cliff. The key question is will it make a comeback in this quarter?
There's a lot at stake. Hardware and software companies are hoping that IT spending will make a strong comeback this quarter because of all the pent up demand and because there's a lot of aging IT gear out there.
In mid-June I met with Gary Budzinski, senior VP at Hewlett-Packard's Services group. Mr Budzinski said that a lot of companies delayed upgrading their software and hardware because of the financial collapse last September.
"Things tend to break after a while," says Mr Budzinski.
Many companies extended their maintenance contracts, but, at some point, that won't be enough and IT systems will start failing on a large scale.
Predicting IT failure is not a hard thing to do. When you deal with tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of servers, data storage systems, network equipment, etc, it's a relatively simple statistical exercise.
"There's a big crunch coming," says Mr Budzinski. Companies will start to experience ever greater IT failures unless they start buying new hardware.
It could be said that it's in HP's interest to publicize the fact that IT systems are aging. But HP makes money either way. It makes money by charging for maintenance contracts and those prices increase with every year that older equipment is kept working. At some point it becomes more expensive than upgrading. And upgrading brings additional benefits such as higher performance from the latest processors and subsystems.
Currently, a large part of an organization's IT budget is being spent on regulatory compliance issues, and on security, which is related to regulatory compliance. For the executives, being in compliance means not going to jail.
But if you can't run your business IT applications reliably then being compliant becomes a moot point. And if you don't have a job you can't go to jail.
So, will spending on basic IT infrastructure come roaring back this quarter? Or will companies try to eek out another few months of performance out of their aging IT systems?