Companies globally are speeding their investment in back-up systems and data-recovery plans, while putting on hold major new spending in other technology areas, according to Thomas Volk, Hewlett-Packard vice-president and general manager of IT infrastructure sales. Mr Volk, who is spearheading HP's move into the services side of the computer industry, said companies already looking at options such as extra data centres had been moving faster since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Meanwhile, projects that involved new systems or lines of business had been put on the back burner, he said. 'I think you can say generically that there's a shift in spending. A lot of the new projects were put on hold - new projects which basically would be considered as changing business models or taking on more risk in terms of trying new things and basically exploring new avenues for the business,' he said. The economic slowdown also had increased caution and many businesses were looking at ways to cut IT costs quickly, Mr Volk said. The major exceptions are China and India, according to Mr Volk and Steven Au-Yeung, general manager of HP's infrastructure sales for Asia. 'In fact their biggest challenge is really how to cope with the growth that they are experiencing and they are expecting. So I think it really also depends on the local economy,' Mr Au-Yeung said. As with many of the world's major technology companies, HP has stepped up investment in the mainland, hoping to develop products for the local market and for export. In Shanghai, HP recently announced its intention to set up a research facility with 1,500 software developers. Mr Volk is visiting Asia as part of HP's latest campaign to emphasise the services side of its business. For HP and industry rivals such as IBM and Compaq, consulting projects are increasingly important as client companies look at buying solutions instead of hardware. In the US, HP's proposed US$20.3 billion takeover of Compaq faces challenges from the families of company founders William Hewlett and David Packard. According to reports, the Hewlett family trust, which holds 5 per cent of HP's shares, plans to oppose the merger. The Packard family trust, which holds 10 per cent, is expected to decide this week. 'From our perspective it is their right to do that,' Mr Volk said. However, he believes that because the trusts hold a minority of shares, the merger will go ahead.