In 2000 the downturn in the economy was directly related to IT. The internet bubble burst, the Y2K non-event was over and all of a sudden the well dried up. Here we are, 8 years later and right back where we started. But, this time it is the mortgage and credit crisis that is to blame and not IT.
But, we all feel the pain. I have been doing a lot of planning for 2009 and watching the numbers. (I have also been doing a lot of crying...LOL) So far, Gartner and Forrester have both revised their IT spending forecast only once. Both Gartner and Forrester predict a modest 2.9% growth in IT spending in 2009, down from 5.9% predicted earlier.
Essentially, that means IT spending will be flat (and I bet it drops a little.) Of course, individual results may vary and I am sure that you have been told to clamp it down already, especially if you are in financial services or retail. Retail is going to take this one hard.
But, what can an IT department do in times like this? Is it merely protect and survive? Try to save as many heads as possible and whether the storm? I don't think so. I think there is room to innovate and innovation leads to growth.
Here are a few things you can do to squeeze pennies out of IT and find ways to innovate:
- Better manage what you have. How much free capacity do you currently have? What servers can be pushed a little harder? In a world where the norm is still one app, one server, there is a ton of wasted capacity in your data center. Find that capacity and put it to good use. You can save hundreds of thousands of dollars by just consolidating. And, contrary to conventional wisdom, you can find apps that will play well together on a physical machine.
- Simplify--> Virtualize. You knwo those servers that have to be replaced? Well, instead of buying 10 new servers, buy 5 and create a VMware cluster. Move all those apps into the virtualized environment. You can do a lot with virtualization technology today and can save millions. If you are not looking into virtualized across the organization, you are setting yourself up to fail.
- Measure what you have. This ties nicely with all of the above. Metrics are more important than ever. What are the SLAs you need to maintain? Are they reasonable? Does the accounts payable group really need .25 second response time? Sure, the website does, especially if it is core to your business, but some departments may be just as productive with a little less performance. And, who is paying for what? If you can accurately figure out what department is using what resources, then you can pass the costs back. You can also identify areas where particular departments are way out of line and start to trim them back.
- Use Open Source Software. Seriously, folks. If you are not first evaluating an open source alternative then you are wasting company dollars. Open Source software is robust and enterprise-class in just about every area. Just look at the stack: OS, DB, Middleware, and even apps. Why pay $47,000 a CPU for Oracle, when you can do it for $5000 on EnterpriseDB. Its time to throw the IT bigotry out the window. I know your developer swears by Websphere and your DBA won't work with any other DB besides Oracle. Tough shit. Open source opens doors to allow you to build applications you can't afford to build with proprietary software. Its the path to innovation.
Ok, that's enough for now. What else am I missing? I am sure there are a ton of things. But, that's a good start.