Monitoring IT networks, systems and devices is the top spending priority of IT managers for 2014, according to a new report.

Some 58% of IT managers will invest their budgets in monitoring this year, the results show. Over 550 IT managers, across Europe, were surveyed for the paper. 

The prioritisation of IT monitoring has raced ahead of spending in other top areas such as network hardware and server virtualisation, each of which just over half of IT managers plan to invest in. It is also far ahead of the perceived importance of spending in areas such as cloud infrastructure, software as a service and network security.

The reason for the focus on IT monitoring is simple: companies are faced with the increasingly complex task of maintaining the performance and reliability of large networks and complex applications, with a variety of devices connecting into them. There is also the complexity of the hybrid setup that many businesses rely on, combining cloud and on-premise systems.

"IT monitoring is absolutely vital to businesses in ensuring they run properly, and can rely on their technology," explains Sam Marsh, Product Manager at Opsview. "Companies are increasingly turning to the latest systems to make sure they are in full control of a reliable, trustworthy network."

Monitoring can also help reduce time-consuming maintenance tasks. Businesses reported spending extensive time, every day, maintaining systems and fixing user issues - many of which can be identified early using a monitoring system.

The number of companies planning to spend on IT monitoring is particularly high given the fact that nearly half of the firms interviewed said their overall technology budget has remained the same as last year. Alarmingly, over 12% of businesses said their budgets had shrunk. 

It is also worth noting how IT monitoring is increasingly perceived to be an essential part of business strategy. It enables businesses to be sure their systems will run at various required workloads and in fast changing conditions - empowering them to continue serving customers successfully, no matter what happens to demand or to the individual elements of a network. Some 71% of businesses say that there is a much larger overlap between IT and business strategy this year.