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Disaster recovery and business continuity topped the list of CIOs’ must-haves, while business application services and hosted/outsourced infrastructure rounded out the top of the list, compiled from Channel Insider research.

Backup, disaster recovery and business continuity are the services CIOs most want from solution providers, up 4 percent over last year to 21 percent, the research showed.

Lester Keizer, CEO of Connecting Point, said from his perspective the increase was driven from the SMB (small and midsize business) side by new technology advances and increasing concerns about natural disasters as well as internal security threats.

"Especially from an SMB perspective, a total solution that protects all their assets hasn’t been available until now," said Keizer. Keizer said some statistics show that as much as 80 percent of an SMB’s assets are data, and that if that data were lost, breached or compromised it could mean the loss of the entire business.

"Technology overall has just evolved in leaps and bounds. It’s almost like a hungry monster that needs to be fed," Keizer said. But with technology evolving so quickly and data assets accruing at an alarming rate, security products and strategies were often left playing catch-up.

Keizer said many SMB owners aren’t tech savvy enough to understand the technology needed for a total security solution. While many SMBs had auditors and staff responsible for monitoring financial and accounting records, that type of security service wasn’t performed on the technology side, he said. 

"I see it happening a lot. Who is auditing the data security, the technology portion of their company? But they will do it for their finances, for their bookkeeping," he said.

Business application services were second on the CIOs’ must-have list, at 18 percent, research showed.  Services that develop, install and maintain business applications, including software packages, software systems and even SAAS (software as a service), continue to be hot.

Many companies lack the resources to implement and maintain complex software packages, and prefer to save money and energy by finding a solution provider to handle that aspect of their business. The increased security and availability are an added bonus a solution provider can offer.

Mark Scott, president of the Utility Company, an outsourced IT provider, said business applications, especially hosted or outsourced applications, are a big growth area. "For SMBs this is already happening with emerging models like software as a service and managed IT services," Scott said. 

Though IT as a service dropped 2 percent from last year, it’s still close to many CIOs’ hearts, with 18 percent of the respondents saying they are looking for these services from their solution providers.

Unlike most other technology trends, this one started with SMBs and will "trickle up" into the enterprise, said Scott. At the enterprise level this trend will evolve more slowly because companies have invested money and resources in on-site data centers and infrastructure that they find tough to get rid of, he said.

Scott predicts a "hybrid model" will evolve, whereby enterprises may choose services such as network management and slowly transition to a fully outsourced IT. 

"The fact is, the Internet is a high-powered, ubiquitous computing grid that can deliver the most complex technologies as a utility. This movement is inevitable and unstoppable," he said.