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11/11/2009
08:30 AM
Fredric Paul
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IT Gut Check: 5 Hard Questions To Ask Yourself When Cutting IT Costs

In today's harsh world of falling revenues, IT departments are increasingly being asked to cut spending. But that may be more complicated than it sounds. A network management expert offers 5 things to consider when making the hard choices.

In today's harsh world of falling revenues, IT departments are increasingly being asked to cut spending. But that may be more complicated than it sounds. A network management expert offers 5 things to consider when making the hard choices.Ken Klapproth, vice president of marketing for network management software vendor Entuity, says that 70% of IT spending goes to ongoing operations and maintenance, and 26% of North American IT spending is salaries. The problem is often more acute at smaller companies with fewer people and less resources.

So apart from "whacking heads," Klapproth asks, how can companies really save money and save money fast? Before you try to answer that question, Klapproth suggests you ask yourself these 5 questions:

IT Gut Check Question 1: Is my "free" software really free? Things To Consider: The acquisition cost of software is minuscule in comparison to what it costs you to get your job done with these things. Cost points may include integration, operations, and especially support -- time spent hunting for answers in online forums can't be used to do other things.

IT Gut Check Question 2: Are my servers svelte or sloth? Things To Consider: Windows Servers are notoriously poor at server utilization, often averaging just 5% to 10%, compared to a recommended 70%. So you may be able to stack up more virtual servers on one physical server than you might expect. You need to measure your server utilization to find out.

IT Gut Check Question 3: Is going virtual really such a good idea? Things To Consider: Virtualization has changed everything, but sometimes virtualization can cause its own problems and bottlenecks. You need to be sure that when moving from physical servers to virtualized servers, that you don't create additional bottlenecks on the network path between users and their applications or users could see degradations in performance.

IT Gut Check Question 4: Am I wasting resources through manual efforts? Things To Consider: On anything you're doing manually, you have to ask yourself if this is the best, most efficient way to do it. That holds true from provisioning to system management to reporting to everything that you and your team do repetitively, one at a time. Typically, anything that's manual -- like sneakernet -- far outweighs the cost of commercial solutions.

IT Gut Check Question 5:Can I cut costs by going green?" Things To Consider: Do you even know what green efforts you've implemented? Do you know how effective they've been? Do you know what you're spending on energy, and what you can save in terms of utility costs and maxing out utilization through green efforts? Have you gone through the "little things" that can add up to big savings, like the fact that chargers draw power even when the device isn't plugged into them? Even if you're not ready to make big changes in the way your company operates, you may be able to realize significant progress by eliminating waste on your networks.

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