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Smart spending: Saving on IT is easier than you think

Talking Tech By Brett Schmidt, CDW vice president, West Region, Network World
August 20, 2012 04:47 PM ET
Brett Schmidt

Network World - Companies are always looking for new ways to cut costs, and two key strategies for saving on IT are to extract optimal value from your current contracts and to invest money now to reduce future expenses.

The first strategy makes sense, but spending money to save money? It may seem counterintuitive, but spending a little more now can save your business a lot in the future. Here are a few tips to help you understand the secrets to saving.

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* Vendor value: Take advantage of the ancillary services that vendors provide as a value add. Prior to delivery, vendors can pre-configure and asset tag purchases, as well as image your organization's software onto hardware products. The vendor may also provide hardware and software asset management tracking for no additional cost. These services free up staff that might otherwise need to handle this process, which gives them more time to focus on critical projects.

You can also work with your software vendor to customize orders and license offerings to ensure that your organization is getting the most out of its purchases. Buying software in bulk (often available for as few as five devices) provides greater cost savings than making an individual purchase for each employee. Just be sure to compare the cost of multiple individual purchases to bulk prices. In some cases, it is possible to switch software licenses from covering "total-users" to "number-of-active-users." This provides flexibility with your software so the organization can transfer licenses from one device to the next, rather than having to re-purchase that software in the future. Bottom line, it pays to make the most of your current partnerships by staying on top of available services and offerings.

* Server and storage savings: When it comes to savings in the data center, it all comes down to managing the allotted space, reducing power and efficiently using cooling techniques. A strong data center design can address each of these components and drastically reduce startup and maintenance costs.

Organizing your data center begins with selecting a room to store the servers, keeping in mind the amount of space versus the number of servers housed. You want to ensure that the room provides sufficient space to distance each piece of hardware, which can help extend the life of the hardware by reducing the amount of exhausted heat that affects the devices. At the same time, avoid a room that is too large -- it can cost more to cool a larger space, not to mention a higher cost or rent for that room.

Although it is not practical for all businesses, consolidating servers using blades and virtualization can provide great cost benefits. Replacing old, inefficient rack units with the smaller blades can save power, cooling and space simultaneously.

Once you select a space and outfit it with the necessary technology, it is just as important to ensure it stays well-ventilated. Start off by having a space dedicated to housing servers -- or a "cooling closet" -- so that they can be spot cooled, instead of relying on general office air conditioning. If you use server racks, blanking panels and "air locking" grommets in raised floor panels help minimize cold air loss. The goal is to avoid open-air space when laying out equipment, therefore reducing the amount of cold air wasted. Maintaining proper air flow in the data center will help maintain the life span of your technology and reduce cooling costs.

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