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IT managers have a lot on their plates for 2007. Whether it involves migrating to Windows Vista or upgrading to 64-bit, many changes are on the way.'s site editor Katherine Bull breaks down some of the major issues IT managers are concerned with, and takes a look at what's on tap for the new year.

Katherine Bull
Big changes are afoot for IT managers in 2007. First of all, Microsoft Vista and new versions of Office and Exchange are now available. Second, 64-bit computing applications may actually become more prevalent due to Exchange's 64-bit-only capability, which will, in turn, generate an increased interest in 64-bit hardware. Also in the works: Companies will make the move toward server consolidation in an effort to reduce overhead and increase efficiency.

These are only a few of the "biggies." IT managers will have a lot more on their plates in 2007 when they mix in the ever-present tasks of disaster planning, 64-bit upgrades and migration, harnessing interoperability issues, architecture design and planning, problem management and desktop and server virtualization. conducted a readership survey in October 2006 and asked 183 IT managers about their titles, job responsibilities, IT architectures, upgrade and migration plans and what is on the table where they work for corporate IT initiatives. The mix of primarily IT managers, senior IT managers, network administrators and systems administrators revealed a great deal about what they do, are thinking about and planning for 2007. We take these results very seriously and have shaped our 2007 editorial content planning around the information gained from it.

In the meantime, here are some highlights from our survey related to who took our survey, what are their main activities and what is their corporate IT mission.

Tell us what you do

As most IT managers know, you wear many hats; you're a firefighter, planner, programmer, justifier, purchaser, manager, and just about anything else that comes up. You're getting your hands dirty and washing them clean to meet with upper management.

Our respondents were asked to narrow the field a bit. The top three functions that these 183 IT folks perform are setting standards (76.5%), meeting with vendors (67.2%) and supervising employees (55.2%). Not too far behind were the budgeting aspects: authorizing purchases (46.4%) and managing a budget (45.4%).

We asked the survey respondents to choose the five most important aspects of their jobs from a list of seventeen choices, including an "other" category. The top five most important aspects were problem management (73.8%), disaster planning (49.2%), application management (45.4%), architecture design and planning (37.7%) and help desk management (36.6%).

Other important aspects included change management, data recovery, and compliance and IT auditing issues, such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA, which weighed in at 31.1% each; while tracking and managing costs for IT services came in with 30.1%.

There were two areas that scored low on our survey, but we know they are critical to IT managers: 64-bit upgrades and migration (7.7%) and Windows/Unix/Linux interoperability issues (18.6%). In talking with some of the respondents, many included these tasks under the architecture design and planning, change management and application management categories. Because there are other important tasks associated with these categories, respondents decided to check the uber-category versus the specific one.

What's up with your company?

A key question on our survey was "What are the three major IT initiatives in your company this year?" We asked respondents to select three out of six choices, including an "other" choice.

Implementing new business applications scored the highest at 65.6%. This is different from the Windows upgrades choice, which scored 56.3% on the survey. These new business applications include line of business applications from companies like CA Inc., Oracle Corp. and SAP AG and/or very specific applications such as security or compliance software packages. In addition, the server consolidation trend is a key concern (60.1%), in which companies strive to reduce data center sprawl and thereby reduce costs and maximize return on investment. Alongside server consolidation is the slow but sure trend toward 64-bit computing, which showed a 10.4% rate on our survey. Last but not least -- and not a surprise -- disaster recovery planning is a key part of a little more than half of the companies' agendas (50.8%).

What's next?

The survey drilled down further to into the specifics of four of the most important aspects of an IT manager's job as well as an up-and-coming one. In my next column, I will focus on the areas of problem management, capacity management, help desk management, disaster planning management and service level agreements (SLAs) management.

In my next two columns, I will talk about the answers given to questions about the technical aspects of an IT manager's job, such as migration to Windows Vista, Office and Longhorn, plans to move to 64-bit hardware and application mix plans. Tune in then for the details and more about what your fellow IT managers are thinking about and planning for in 2007.

In the meantime, let me know what you think of our survey results and how they line up with your company's plans and your responsibilities as an IT manager. Write to me at

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