CIOs are increasingly focusing on business alignment in their IT strategies, according to Chris Ingle, IDC's consulting and research director, European Systems Group.

There has been a measurable change in behaviour between 2004 and 2006, with people looking less at cost reduction and more at how IT can be made more responsive to the needs of the business. Ingle said: "In data centres 67% of money is spent on the people managing the systems. The big question therefore is how do we make those people more productive?"

According to the analyst one area identified by IT directors is consolidation. Consolidation of servers, storage infrastructure, and database and applications is high on the IT strategic agenda. Speakers at IDC's annual Enterprise Data Centre conference 2007 in London last week identified a range of systems from blades to high-end systems as being suitable tools for this consolidation. The common theme is virtualisation and conference delegates and speakers discussed various technologies and services used to virtualise different parts of their infrastructure.

Ingle also stressed the importance of looking more at people and not just technology. "How we manage change is becoming increasingly important when thinking of managing a virtual environment," he said, adding that the question of internal resources and the political aspects of an IT department within an organisation would also determine attitudes to change management.

The emerging issue for many businesses is how they manage the power consumed by their data centres. As Ingle said: "Power consumption is important as many IT departments are starting to feel pressure to reduce the cost and quantity of power consumed. However, the current challenge is in power provisioning and floor space, as many data centres do not possess the infrastructure needed to deal with new infrastructure requirements."