Security is top worry among IBM users, survey says

In the wake of tying their computer systems closer to those of business partners, IBM Corp. users now have heightened concerns about protecting sensitive data on their networks.

According to a soon-to-be released survey of IBM customers, security ranked as the top issue confronting them, up from the fifth most important issue a year ago.

The Share organization, an independent voluntary association of about 2,000 IBM users from large companies and educational institutions, turns over the results of its annual survey to IBM in hopes the company will take the data into account in future products.

Last year, the top concern for Share members was getting an Internet presence, but e-commerce dropped to the second most important issue in this year’s survey.

“Someone might view this [year’s survey] as a dramatic change of results, but it reflects what’s going on in general” with businesses, says Pam Taylor, Share’s director of industry relations. “E-commerce is opening up businesses electronically and there’s a lot of issues … businesses have to face, such as how to deploy their own sensitive data while protecting it and exchanging it with customers, suppliers and vendors.”

One reason security is such a big concern is that companies generally budget just enough for security technologies to get by, says Randy Mowen, director of data management and e-business architecture for Bekins, a Hillside, Ill., moving and storage company. But things can get risky when it comes to making unplanned security-related purchases in response to new threats, he adds.

Taylor says this year’s findings point out that application development and deployment are “high on the minds” of IS and network executives.

IBM customers are struggling over whether to build or buy their applications – or whether to rent them from an application service provider, he says.

Other concerns confronting Big Blue customers include training and retention; the shortage of IT professionals and complying with regulatory privacy requirements.

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