Seven Ways to Reduce IT Costs

We at Roundbrix see this as a new economy. A recalibrated economy, examining every dollar and ensuring the best use of that dollar. In a word, true value must exist.

From our years in the field and in the finance offices, we assembled a few tips to help you control the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for your shop. Without further adieu, here is the list.

Deploy PCs in Quantities of two or more. Whether you are using in house resources or outsource your IT, this is a winning strategy. Let’s say to assemble from out of boxes, build, load software, deploy, migrate data, and QA with the user takes three hours for a single unit. For two units, it would take about 4 hours, reducing the cost to two hours per unit built and deployed. Three units would take maybe 5 hours. The cost per unit goes down until you deploy 5, then it stays the same unless you start imaging, then the cost goes down anew.

Deploy Servers in Quantities. The same methodology applies here, but not to the same extent nor the same economy of scale, unless they fulfill the same purpose. If a server build and deployment cycle takes 20 hours, two might take 30-35 hours, but still some savings here, unless they are domain controllers, then all bets are off as these are always a bit more complex.

Group Policy (GPO) Usage. This one item is incredibly multi-faceted. This really leverages the benefit of having a domain. This is where you can manage items in total or in groups of computers or user types. Say for instance you have twenty people in marketing that use a Xerox machine. The machine craps out, and you need to redirect all their print jobs to the Xerox on the second floor, but it’s a different model. With Group Policy, it would take a few minutes, if that, whereas without Group Policy you would need to visit all 20 desktops. Using Group Policy will save money, time after time.

Use Cox for Internet and Voice PRI circuits. Right now, these folks are the best game in town, bar none. This includes cost, quality of services, reliability (up time), communication, and you actually talk to the same folks, time and time again. We see Cox as the Costco of voice and data services. They have also extended their reach into new territory and continue to do so at a rapid rate. If they didn’t service you area a year ago, they very well may now.

Buy HP G7 Servers. When it comes to rapid deployment and ease of maintaining current firmware, HP has the edge. The cost is not only cheaper than Dell a lot of times, but they offer this incredible package called ICE. ICE stands for Insight Control Environment and includes a set of tools like Craftsman for a mere $300! From being able to rapidly deploy multiple servers, to having full troubleshooting via ILO-3 (Integrated Lights Out) which reports consolidated multiple HP server statuses to the System Insight Manager (SIM), which in turn, sends out notifications. So if a fan, power supply, or hard drive fails, you know about it the second it happens. An additional neat thing about the G7 is it’s built in SAS port on the outside. Adding a tape drive or additional storage has never been easier. No more SCSI cards!

Review Phone Bill in Detail. We can only begin to tell you what we see. When you get a phone bill, you go on auto-pilot and may just pay it. This might warrant a review once or twice a year. Three things that drive up costs typically go wrong here. The first item is as lines are not used, they are typically not disconnected, so you pay every month for facilities you no longer use. The second item is falling out of contract with some carriers, like Verizon, resulting in immediate large rate hikes. The third thing is to pay attention not only for the cost per minute, but the billing increments as well. It seems that folks are pretty good for domestic toll-free and long distance (you should not be paying more than $.03 per minute for either of these), but a lot of money is made in the local market, that is Zones 1,2, and 3. Some carriers, like Cox, will include all local traffic for a flat fee. If you do a lot here, say more than $100 per month, it’s worth jumping on this offer.

Pre-Purchase Maintenance Contracts for full useful life of hardware. If you buy a server or PC and plan to keep it for 5 years, it is far cheaper to buy the maintenance up front, than to buy a 3-year, and then renew for two more. According to what we have seen, 50% or more can be saved here. Face it, when it comes to servers, you want to maximize their useful life to minimize the number of technology turns (redeployments) so you minimize your IT labor costs over the long haul. We have bought a server from Dell a few years back and bought it with 3 years maintenance, as that was all they offered back then. The initial cost was about $800 for 3 years. When we went to renew for two more, it was $1,200 more. So we have $2,000 out-of-pocket here. Today, you can get 5-year contracts that are much more cost-effective and protect your investment without the hassle or cost of having to renew.

In short, these are some great ways to save a few dollars that can be better used for other purposes. We have more ways to save money as well and would be glad to set up a time to discuss cost-saving opportunities with you. To start the New Year off right, why not give us a call and make saving money your New Year’s resolution.

Happy 2011!

Ed Leard