A survey released just before Christmas suggests that almost half of US companies will cut their 2009 datacentre budgets by an average of 15 per cent compared to the year gone.
The poll, conducted by the Association for Computer Operations Management (AFCOM), can be seen in a number of ways. Obviously, most IT shops will be under pressure to save wherever possible so it's hardly surprising that 49 per cent of those surveyed say they will be reducing spend.

The glass-half-full argument goes that this still leaves 51 per cent of firm holding steady or spending more - pretty remarkable given the grave nature of the economic crisis that we're always being told about.

And look where the cuts coming from? Twenty-one per cent said they will spend less on IT equipment. Over 16 per cent are curbing spend on ancillary gear such as cooling systems, and 14 per cent will take an axe to headcount.

But some items will also see spend increased with 86 per cent of respondents virtualising more. Also, 13 per cent said they planned to commence or increase software as a service (SaaS) investments. Almost a quarter of respondents (23 per cent) said they plan to use cloud computing in some way and a remarkable 70 per cent plan more use of conferencing technologies.

It's just a straw poll based on a few hundred respondents but this seems absolutely in line with CIO priorities everywhere. Spend less on hardware, sweat existing assets through investing in virtualisation software; use IT to cut travel budgets and pursue hosted alternatives in preference to upfront cost software. But, whatever you do, don't throw everything out or take crazy risks.

With so much gnashing of teeth around, it's reassuring to know that datacentre managers have a commonsense approach to the challenges of the year ahead.