According to research by Spiceworks, small- and medium-sized businesses have recently shown their strongest technology gains in 18 months.

The global study from January to February 2011 included responses from more than 3,000 IT professionals from businesses with 1,000 or fewer employees. Several trends show higher levels of adoption, including cloud computing and virtualization.

IT budgets for 2011 increased 8 percent from the second-half of 2010, representing the largest gain in 18 months. Thirty-one percent of SMBs plan to hire IT staff during the year. Meanwhile, 74 percent plan to use virtualization by mid-2011.

"Small businesses are responsible for half of all IT spending," said Jay Halberg, co-founder and vice president of Marketing for Spiceworks. "All signs point to a good year for the IT industry as SMBs around the world significantly boost investments in technology products and services as well as staffing."

Another report shows a positive outlook for the IT field. According to the InformationWeek Outlook 2011 report, one-third of repsondents said they planned to increase IT spending during the next three months.

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