How to reduce your TCO: take a holistic approach to total network infrastructure

Today the ‘do more with less’ cliché is the norm, with Gartner predicting another year of flat, or even negative, IT budget growth. Reducing TCO is back on top of the priority list.

TCO, by definition, is a broad look at the total sum of a company’s IT infrastructure. There are numerous areas where cuts, savings and efficient reductions can be made. Common requirements fall into a few specific categories that will sound familiar to anyone in the IT department; ‘we need to lower network support costs’, ‘we need to use internal resources more efficiently’, ‘there needs to be a better way to track devices, ‘our network availability could be improved, and downtime reduced’, ‘future budgeting for IT needs to be more accurate’.

These are absolutely the right areas for businesses to be looking at, and it’s not what they’re looking at regarding TCO that’s the issue - it’s how they are looking. Examining individual devices or support contracts will give one small piece of the total infrastructure picture. Even if this leads to a small or one-off cost saving, it’s not the best way to impact overall TCO.

Assessing the entire IT infrastructure, examining the technology lifecycle and total network inventory, is a far better way of getting to grips with TCO, and gives the level of insight needed to make a meaningful reduction. This sounds like a huge, and potentially expensive, undertaking but the right tools and consultancy can provide a good return.

Device management, for example, benefits from this approach. The frequently referenced ‘consumerisation of IT’, and more recently BYOD strategies, mean keeping track of devices connected to the network, and their associated support contracts, is a much bigger job than even five years ago. Device management identifies which devices form part of a company’s network, and the costs and risks associated with them. With this information businesses can update or change devices they don’t need, and reduce ongoing support costs where appropriate. If an employee has their own iPhone contract and uses it at work in a BYOD environment, they may not need a company Blackberry too, for example.

Poor insight into IT support is another big area to consider. Incorrect support cover on devices, services levels that are too high or low, and using too many suppliers to get the best cost on contract renewals are all potential areas for cost savings. Taking a periodic assessment of IT support will help a business understand how to best support IT infrastructure in future, which in turn avoids overspending on support.

These examples answer two of the common requirements for reducing TCO; better device management and improved budget forecasting. Conducting an extensive review of the total IT infrastructure is the only way to gain real insight into where costs are being managed poorly, and can ultimately be reduced.

Wayne Sanderson is the Line of Business Manager for Network Intergration at Dimension Data.