Shrink your IT infrastructure costs

By Kathleen Lau, Computerworld Canada |  IT Management, IT infrastructure

It's no wonder IT leaders are focusing concern on IT infrastructure and operations costs when it accounts for 60 per cent of total IT spend. Since things are still uncertain despite the economy showing signs of improvement, this area of IT "strikes a resonant cord," said Jay Pultz, vice-president and distinguished analyst with Gartner Inc.

"It has such a high interest among CIOs because they're not going to meet their budget goals if (infrastructure and operations) doesn't meet its (budget)," said Pultz during a recent Webinar discussing ways enterprises can cut costs in their IT infrastructure and operations (I&O). Gartner defines I&O as everything in IT except business applications.

There are 10 ways to cut costs in I&O that, if done completely, will reduce spend by 10 per cent within 12 months and 25 per cent in three years, said Pultz.

1. Defer those I&O initiatives that don't meet business needs. "Look at your key initiatives and focus on those that help you meet the business needs, help you reduce costs and help you keep to uptime requirements for crucial systems," said Pultz. Preferred initiatives include data centre modernization and consolidation, virtualization, improving processes with ITIL, upgrading PCs, unified communications, and a mobile enterprise strategy.

2. Re-examine networking costs. "These tend to be the largest contracts that you have if you're not doing a significant amount of outsourcing," said Pultz. By reviewing current telco contracts, enterprises can renegotiate a lower rate, identify billing errors and things they should no longer be paying for. Pultz also suggests revisiting the network architecture and refining uptime requirements.

3. Consolidate I&O. "You must ask yourself if you have consolidated all that you can," said Pultz. Most data centre managers understand the benefit of replacing distributed and standalone servers with new form factors in the data centre such as rack and blade. Yet less than 10 per cent have consolidated their servers, said Pultz.

4. Virtualize I&O. "Virtualization is an incredibly powerful technology to reduce hardware costs, reduce power costs, improve utilization and so forth," said Pultz. For instance, reducing server count by 75 per cent will reduce power consumption by a similar amount. Pultz suggests: "Don't go slow, accelerate as much as possible your plans to virtualize servers" because of the advantages that can be reaped from high levels of virtualization.

5. Reduce power and cooling needs. "We're just creating more capacity which creates more heat in a similar space," said Pultz. Don't think of the data centre holistically. Instead, break it down into pods or modules and design each individually. One module might be designed for heat density with hot and cold racks, while an other designed for higher uptime, said Pultz. Don't forget energy monitoring tools are useful for knowing your usage and for optimizing that.

6. Contain storage growth.

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