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Deliver next generation IT non-stop and on-budget

The best IT shops spend on average 40% less on server OSes, storage arrays and more. So what's the key to on-time, on-budget, on-point IT?

LAS VEGAS -- Non-stop IT organizations that aim to optimize resources as much as possible can achieve that goal with smart spending.

Next-generation IT shops already pick the low-hanging fruit of cost reduction and operational improvement, said Jim McGittigan, a Gartner Inc. research vice president during the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference here this month.

These initiatives include renegotiating vendor contracts and buying the right products at the right price, as well as cost reductions through virtualization and optimized cooling. IT can generally implement these changes without any disruption to end users.

"[These things are] not so difficult [to do]," said David J. Cappuccio, a chief researcher at Gartner. "They're just not the way we've always done things."

Average IT shops spend about 40% more than what the most cost-savvy ones do, McGittigan said. This means for every $100 your IT shop spends on a server OS instance or mainframe MIPS, a terabyte of storage or an active network port, the best data center shoppers spend $75 or even less.

It's not all about cutting piecemeal costs. Smart spending now -- on better cooling, a new storage strategy or different process flows -- can pay back in future expenses.

"If I invest a little bit here, I can save potentially millions in ... a few more years," Cappuccio said.

Consider more than one IT architecture infrastructure model to fit more than one business use case, suggested Gartner's analysts. For example, does test and dev run on the same Tier-III infrastructure that hosts your enterprise resource planning system? Alternatively, is the same latency acceptable for a mission-critical database application as for a periodic backup service?

"There's nothing off-limits to question, re-architect and rebuild," said Jason Taylor, an infrastructure vice president at Facebook.

Facebook's IT team looks at any service and asks how they can optimize it, or how to reconfigure the infrastructure hardware. Once you make improvements, don't be afraid to rip it apart again, Taylor said.

There's nothing off-limits to question, re-architect and rebuild.
Jason Tayloran infrastructure VP at Facebook

"The fact is that workloads change," he said. "What you needed a few years ago might not work now."

Multi-zone data centers, commodity hardware coexisting with integrated, vendor-specific converged infrastructure, and cloud deployments that tie into on-premises data centers achieve the next gen IT mix appropriate to business needs. Baseline how much individual IT services cost to get a sense of the appropriate architecture and supporting infrastructure.

Look for improvement opportunities that are lower risk and higher reward, McGittigan said. Don't chase a project that shaves off a small amount of Capex but requires hiring and training several new staff members, for example. Some changes will require major infrastructure revamps, while others are about discovering and shutting down wasteful processes.

Once a baseline is established and shrewd improvements made, track the savings and market this achievement as an example of IT's value to the business.

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What major changes will you make in the data center over the next 12 months?
With energy use being one of the major costs for a data center, a major change to make in the next year will be to move to more sustainable energy technologies and rely less on the grid. Possibilities include installing small wind turbines and/or solar panels on the data center building or property. Geothermal or water could be other sources of sustainable energy if they are readily available.
One such way of creating energy efficiency and infrastructure cost gains is by considering a modular data center approach. The standardization of the production process and scalability of the end product means, enterprise grade solutions can be delivered at less cost, in less time and makes more efficient use of resources.

Best regards Gordon