1. Virtualise Your Servers
This is arguably the lowest hanging fruit, in terms of a quick return on investment and tangible cost reduction. The savings to be made, through reduction of power and support can be easily quantified and a business case can be quickly written to justify the initial spend. In terms of how many physical servers can be virtualised onto a single host, a 10:1 ratio is the industry rule of thumb at the moment e.g. a reduction of 100 servers down to 10 hosts. Organisations holding back on virtualisation because they perceive it as risky should consider that server virtualisation will in most cases, make their infrastructure more resilient than before. Platforms such as messaging, database and general application delivery are now being virtualised whereas perhaps a year ago, many people were holding back. Quite simply, the technology is mainstream and virtualisation is now the de facto standard for server infrastructure.
2. Virtualise Your Desktops
Many government organisations already run virtual desktops in one shape or another (e.g. Microsoft Terminal Services or Citrix XenApp). However the paradigm for virtual desktops has shifted. The ability to provide the user with the horsepower, customisation and flexibility which they are used to with a physical desktop, is now available from a number of vendors. As with server virtualisation, the benefits are primarily around cost savings in terms of power usage and user management (albeit on a larger scale, due to the higher number of devices) but this solution can provide many spinoff benefits such as universal remote access. With new directives being issued around disaster recovery and the ability to provide services in the case of a national emergency, this can be of major significance.
3. Virtualise Your Applications
As distinct from virtual desktops, the challenge of delivering applications can be a time consuming and costly business. By virtualising the application delivery process, significant economies of scale can be realised. Irrespective of whether you virtualise the desktop Operating System, being able to create an “application jukebox” reduces the cost of deployment, upgrade and ongoing support. Virtualised applications give the administrator the choice of whether to install, cache, publish or stream. When combined with virtualisation of the other layers of the stack, it all adds up to major cost savings.
4. Reduce Your Communications Spend
Many organisations are in the process of moving to VoIP which has clearly defined cost saving benefits. However, the amount being paid for traditional data connectivity is still a significant part of the overall IT budget. By analysing the true nature of the traffic traversing your network, it is good practice to introduce optimisation solutions which reduce the amount of physical traffic being moved. This invariably leads to a reduction of your telecommunications bills. When combined with certain thin client solutions, telecommunications traffic can be further reduced. Bear in mind that these savings will very much depend however on the nature of your applications and existing connections.
5. Reduce Your Storage Spend
Running out of disk space is an ever increasing problem. The advent of collaboration and document management plus increasing use of messaging and web browsing means that data is growing exponentially. The default reaction to a sudden capacity problem is to buy more disks. People do not often have the luxury of figuring out a storage strategy in such an instance. This means that organisations can be left with large amount of expensive ‘near line’ storage for all of their data, even for data which is rarely accessed, if ever. By taking the time to understand the true nature of your organisation’s data, a new storage architecture can be created, with the dual purpose of being more efficient while costing you less money. Novosco work with EMC to carry out in-depth assessments of data growth in the public sector. Using advanced data analysis tools, Novosco and EMC can help you to more accurately measure how and why your data is growing the way it is.
6) Outsource Some IT Functions
The ‘O’ word can be a scary one, especially in today’s economic environment. However, it should be viewed as an opportunity to be smarter about how we can capitalise on the existing skills we have. For each aspect of IT, the lower the skill level, the more it should be considered a candidate for outsourcing. Outsourcing allows you to upskill existing staff to deliver more value to the organisation. Areas such as hardware maintenance or printer management have traditionally been outsourced. Other parts of the infrastructure which were previously considered as skills-intensive are now viewed within the industry as as a commodity, skills-wise. One example is messaging: the day-to-day administration of email is a job which adds very little value to the organisation but costs quite a lot in comparison. By outsourcing that function, savings can be made across a range of areas from telecommunications to licensing and from power to administration costs. The flexibility now available in terms of outsourcing is unprecedented. Everything from on-site resources to hosting virtual systems on a per usage basis means that your organisation can pick the level of outsourcing which makes the most sense. Other examples which can result in significant savings, are the outsourcing of your organisation’s disaster recovery and backup solutions.
7) Consolidate Your IT Infrastructure
Organisations with many remote offices will have experienced the organic growth of equipment, data and support requirements over a passage of time. The need for local infrastructure in many cases is not always required. Many organisations are looking at how they can centralise critical IT functions into one location. The benefits are not just around cost savings (due to the reduction of physical systems) but also around security, compliancy, accountability and disaster recovery.
8) Explore Green IT
The government as a whole is committed to the green agenda and there are many ways in which IT can make a difference. Green IT encompasses many things but one of its fundamental directives is that it can save you money. Lower the energy used by your IT equipment and you will very quickly recoup any expenditure or effort involved. Some simple steps can quickly reduce your power footprint. Implement the power saving functions native to your PC’s operating systems, replace ‘fat PC’s’ with thin clients (as less moving parts require less power), and consolidate your servers to dramatically reduce both their power and cooling requirements. You can even go as far as automating the powering down of server workloads during out of hours operations. These are just some of the ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint, save your organisation money and do a little to help the environment.
9) Increase Productivity
Productivity in the IT sense means having access to the information your workers need, when they need it. It is possible to implement extremely powerful information repositories and search tools ‘out of the box’ now, as key data is already stored inside indexable sources such as a directory structures, ODBC-compliant databases and/or messaging systems. It is incumbent on all government bodies to provide their users with the means to access the relevant information in a timely fashion and to ensure that this information is secure, accurate and relevant. If workers are productive it means that they are delivering more value to the organisation. At the launch of the late Paul Tansey’s report into Productivity in late 2007, the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern commented: “The productivity debate and the need to have a productivity mindset and culture embedded in both public and private sector organisations is more important now than at any time in our recent economic history.”
10) Pick a Strategic Partner
Novosco has extensive experience working with public sector bodies to help them streamline services and cut costs. As Ireland’s leading virtualisation expert with the highest level of certification with Microsoft, VMware, Citrix and EMC, Novosco are well placed to independently advise our clients on the strategic direction of their IT infrastructure.
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