An IT manager’s guide to saving cash amid the financial crisis

There’s a chance, albeit a small one, that smart IT personnel can nickel and dime their way into saving their jobs, even amid the recent financial collapse on Wall Street and elsewhere.

In the weeks since Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and the U.S. government approved a bailout plan, the technology industry has been speculating as to what extent those working in the data centre could be affected by corporate downsizing and paper clip-counting. There is, of course, no guaranteed answer to that question, but that isn’t stopping some vendors from trying to come up with some helpful hints.

This morning, for example, I received a pitch from Stratavia, a data centre automation software vendor that’s trying to make a name for itself among the HPs and IBMs of the world. Its executives put their heads together and came up with a shortlist of action items IT departments could do to save money during tight times. I think it’s worth taking a look at them and considering the merits of each.

The advice: Do away with old user accounts, and any license costs you might be back (like for an employee who left, why pay his account cost), or repurposing OS’s or database licenses where possible.

The reality: Many enterprises fail to deal with old user accounts even when the economy is booming. Reuse and repurposing is a great idea, but you need to have a good understanding of where your IT assets are, and unfortunately that can be a tall order for a lot of firms.

The advice: Virtualize operations to spread workload to teams who previously didn’t have the expertise, to reduce new headcount requirements.

The reality: This is probably not what most companies had in mind when they approved a virtualization strategy, but it may be one way that IT departments can actually help their coworkers do more with less. It would likely only work best in those firms that have already deployed virtualization, rather than paying for a new chunk of VMware licences.

The advice: Automate policies for file system cleanup, to reduce storage costs

The reality: This is a pretty good plug for Stratavia’s offerings, and I appreciated that it didn’t make the top of the list. Of course, data centre automation is absolutely a good thing, provided you’re prepared for the up front costs and have the commitment to monitor both the growth of your storage needs and the actual results of the automation.

The advice: Reduce wireless hot spot fees by enabling remote access by mobile phone.

The reality: Not everyone is willing to type with their thumbs. There are a lot of laptop users out there and hot spots are their lifeline.

The advice: Reduce expensive staff turnover through focus on quality of life for staff

The reality: Great idea. But when times are this tough, the focus tends to be on quality of life for the shareholders.

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