2009: The Year for Doing More With Less

In these times of economic hardship the mantra of doing more with less has never been further to the forefront of the IT department’s mind. As we move into 2009 reduced sales and cash-flow will begin to bite and some budgets will be cut drastically.

While business leaders more readily accept that IT can be a competitive advantage it is unlikely IT budgets will be left intact. This doesn’t have to mean projects get cancelled, rather that reduced budgets should be used very wisely.

IT departments will be focusing on sweating assets, virtualisation, creative purchasing, and ‘pay as you go’ services to make sure they get the most out of their infrastructures in 2009.

This focus will ensure that the company inventory is used more efficiently, but the first step is to carry out a discovery exercise. In my experience, many IT environments can achieve drastic efficiency benefits from a relatively small amount of reconfiguration.

It is not unusual to find 5-10% of an organisations’ server plant that is allocated to a project and in fact nobody knows what job it is carrying out. There are many possible reasons for this oversight. These hosts may not have been decommissioned correctly, they may have been purchased for a subsequently cancelled project, or the number of hosts required may have been overestimated.

Whatever the reason, they are using heat, power, rack space, and cooling resources. They are also consuming money from the licensing and maintenance budgets. Taking this wastage and redistributing these resources can produce considerable benefits.

Storage networks are another area where IT departments can make big savings. Generally administrators have been afraid to reclaim storage and ports due to inefficient SAN management. In many environments there is no standard procedure to reclaim SAN capacity when a host is taken out of service.

This can leave many switch ports cabled up but not being used with storage allocated to a host that has been removed or switched off. While reclaiming this ‘lost’ capacity may not allow a company to claim a refund, there is a very real possibility that future purchases can be deferred because ‘full’ networks actually have nine to 12 months of growth left in them.

Companies often shy away from reclaiming redundant cabling because of the possibility that a production host might be taken offline by mistake. While these concerns are valid, most production hosts use multi-pathing technology to mitigate against such a scenario and these tasks can take place out of business hours. Even supposedly trivial savings such as cabling can soon add up to a significant amount.