Surveys this year present a picture of federal IT

Surveys this year present a picture of federal IT<@VM>What was up in 2000?

Results show LAN administrators eye technology horizon; procurement managers emphasize OSes

By Richard W. Walker

GCN Staff

GCN's Reader Survey this year polled federal employees on subjects ranging from product preferences and user trends to broad topics such as seat management, LAN plans and strategies, reverse auctions and online procurement.

Cumulatively, the responses generate a fairly comprehensive picture of the state of information technology in government.

In the all-important area of computer networking, for example, we learned that LAN administrators are focused on the technology horizon and future user demands.

A survey on LAN plans found that video, Web applications and database development are driving network strategies for many systems managers. Videoconferencing looms especially large as administrators map their networks.

Microsoft Windows NT Server was the dominant OS; 67 percent of administrators in the survey said they run NT. About 35 percent of users of all operating systems expected to migrate to Windows 2000 Server within the next two years.

The survey results also projected a 3 percent increase in the use of Unix and, notably, a 10 percent gain for Linux.

On the other hand, the survey foretold declining use of Novell NetWare over the next two years, from 30 percent of the base to 17 percent. About 40 percent of NetWare users who planned to migrate to other operating systems expected to move to either Windows NT or Win 2000 Server.

In a survey on trends in IT procurement, operating systems were high on the shopping lists of federal procurement managers; 57 percent said they plan to buy OSes in the next year. Office suites headed the lists of 63 percent of buyers we talked with.

Hardware numbers

On the hardware side, managers were looking to buy PCs (83 percent), printers (79 percent), input devices such as keyboards and mice (79 percent) and monitors (78 percent).

The survey also found that 34 percent of buyers spend at least $1 million annually on IT needs. Nearly a quarter of buyers spend $100,000 to $499,000 on IT needs. Another 14 percent spend up to $999,999 a year.

As for procurement vehicles, the survey showed the extent to which buyers are going to the Web for purchases'56 percent said they buy computer products online. The open market (55 percent) and GSA Schedule (50 percent) also were popular methods.

A survey on online buying trends revealed that buyers like the convenience, speedy transactions and ease of using the Web for purchases. But they also voiced concerns about security and poorly designed sites.

The General Services Administration's GSA Advantage was the most popular site, being used regularly by 28 percent of buyers in the survey. Most buyers, 81 percent, also use commercial sites.

A survey on seat management'handing over desktop ownership and management to a contractor, with charges based on a per-seat formula'proved to be surprising. More than a quarter of feds in the sample'26 percent'said they weren't sure what seat management is or how it works.

Of those familiar with seat management, 69 percent said their agencies weren't likely to adopt it, and 23 percent indicated that it was 'somewhat likely' that their agencies would go for it.

They expressed anxieties about seat. Some speculated that it would be too costly; others worried about contract issues and a lack of flexibility.

In product preferences and trends, GCN surveyed feds on servers, notebook computers and handheld PCs among hardware items, and software packages including office suites, network management products and enterprise e-mail software and groupware.

In the server poll, users gave servers from Gateway Inc. the top rating over those from Hewlett-Packard Co., Compaq Computer Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. Dell held the highest portion of the base at 28 percent, followed by Compaq (20 percent), Hewlett-Packard (15 percent) and Gateway (9 percent).

Notebook PC users rated Dell machines higher in quality than those from Gateway, Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. and IBM Corp. Dell also captured the largest share of the survey sample with 31 percent.

Dual users'those who use both a notebook and a PC'expected to increase their notebook usage to more than a third of their computing time over the next one to three years.

Almost all remote users in the survey'98 percent'use wired modems, but 41 percent expected to connect wirelessly in the next few years.

The handheld survey revealed the dominance of products from Palm Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif. Palm held 68 percent of the sample, led by the Palm V (44 percent) and Palm III (26 percent).

By a wide margin, 73 percent to 22 percent, handheld users preferred the Palm OS to Microsoft Windows CE.

Date Survey Highlights
Jan. 10 Office suites Corel WordPerfect Office 2000 nips Microsoft Office 2000 Premium as top-rated product; 80% in survey use versions of Microsoft Office.
Feb. 7 LAN plans and strategies Ethernet is most common LAN technology; 67% in survey use Microsoft NT Server as network OS; 29% of LAN administrators have 100 to 499 users; 22% have 1,000 or more.
March 6 Server brands Gateway Inc. servers were rated No. 1, followed by Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp. servers; users value product reliability and strong technical support.
April 3 LAN technologies and operating LAN administrators expect to need much more bandwidth in next two years; 48% of NT users expect to upgrade to Windows 2000 Server in next 24 months.
April 24 Network management software Hewlett-Packard OpenView Network Node Manager tops Novell ManageWise in product ratings; 50% use Microsoft Systems Management Server; users want security and server monitoring features most of all.
May 15 Enterprise e-mail software and groupware Novell GroupWise edges Microsoft Exchange for top rating but Exchange
holds 65% of users; security and user interface are most important features.
June 5 IT procurement Feds like online, open-market and GSA schedule buys; PCs, printers, input devices and monitors top shopping lists; product reliability is key factor in purchases.
June 19 Online procurement Feds enjoy convenience, speed of transactions and ease of use of online buying; GSA Advantage is favorite site; security is biggest concern; users chide poor site design, difficulty of navigation and slowness of some sites.
July 10 Seat management Many feds are either unfamiliar with or wary of the seat management approach to PC outsourcing; 69% said it was unlikely that their agencies would ever adopt it; cost, contract complexity and loss of control of systems head feds' list of concerns.
Aug. 7 Reverse auctions 70% in survey expressed lack of knowledge about how reverse auctions work; of those familiar with the practice, 60% saw at least some potential for it as a buying method for their agencies.
Aug. 21 Notebook computer brands Dell Computer Corp. notebooks grab No. 1 spot, followed by notebooks from Gateway Inc., and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc.; buyers want durability, long battery life and quality displays.
Sept. 11 Notebook computer use and trends Users expect to step up notebook use in next 36 months; 82% in survey use notebooks for travel; 18% as a replacement for their desktop PCs; 83% use notebooks for remote access; 99% retrieve e-mail; 69% access the Internet; 98% use a wired modem for remote access.
Oct. 2 Handheld computers 68% of handheld users have devices from Palm Inc.; PalmV is most widely used; 16% use HP handhelds; all handheld users in survey wished for clearer, brighter screens, color displays and more memory; convenience is most important attribute.
Oct. 23 Handheld computer use and trends 82% in survey synchronize data with their PCs; 24% use their handhelds to access data from remote locations; 92% of those retrieve e-mail and 92% use a wired modem to connect; Palm OS is preferred operating system.


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