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Future-Proof Your IT Infrastructure

March 24, 2009

Summary

Many companies today spend too much money on “keeping the lights on” and not enough on supporting the business with new initiatives. That won’t cut it in tough economic times. This article looks at the benefits of taking a more strategic approach to client and server management.
No one working in IT today needs to be told about the consequences of the current economic downturn. They’re all too apparent. IT budgets are being cut, layoffs are a fact of life, and everyone faces the daunting prospect of having to do more with less. It’s no exaggeration to say that IT has to be smarter than ever about how it spends its money.
This article looks at the significant cost benefits that can accrue from taking a more strategic approach to managing clients and servers throughout their entire lifecycle.

Spending on maintenance reduces flexibility

It’s an unfortunate fact that many companies today spend too much money on “keeping the lights on” – that is, maintaining their current environment -- and not enough on supporting the business with new initiatives. In most organizations, only a small percentage of their total revenue goes toward new IT initiatives. As Forrester Research has observed:
“Our research has shown that the average IT organization spends 70% to 80% of its budget on maintaining the status quo versus only 20% to 30% on new initiatives. Best practices companies have taken this ratio to 60/40, and some are actually driving toward 50/50. Measuring and reporting this ratio can be a key indicator of both the efficiency of IT as well as IT value creation.” (“The Five Essential Metrics for Managing IT,” Craig Symons, April 2008)
Given today’s stagnant and declining IT budgets, it’s imperative that organizations get better value from their IT “spend” by automating many of the mundane and redundant day-to-day tasks, freeing up IT to work on more valuable initiatives.
Take the simple example of deploying a PC. Gartner Inc. estimates that the cost of deploying a new system (with the operating system and all the software and patches), retiring an old PC, and migrating the user data and settings is approximately $882 per PC. Simply automating this process, according to Gartner, can save $304 per PC.
Now consider the total cost of owning a PC. According to Symantec research, simply having good systems management practices in place can reduce costs by nearly 50%. Multiply that by the number of PCs in an organization and you can begin to see how much well-managed PCs can save an organization.

Deploy, manage, secure, and troubleshoot

Altiris Client Management Suite from Symantec automates time-consuming and redundant tasks to reduce the effort and costs associated with deploying, managing, securing, and troubleshooting client systems. With Altiris Client Management Suite, organizations can gain better control of their IT environments through:
  • Client discovery and inventory. The suite enables IT to develop a comprehensive inventory of all the hardware and software for each client system in the organization. A complete view of the organization can help optimize software licenses, better support end users, and reduce costs associated with OS deployments and software rollouts.
  • Imaging and deployment. The suite enables IT to deploy Windows, Mac, and Linux with “touch-free” imaging and provisioning. Migrating to the latest version of Windows involves less interruption to end users. IT can reduce the time associated with imaging and cloning PCs. Support and maintenance costs are reduced through the deployment of standardized, corporate-approved, hardware-independent images throughout the organization.
  • Intelligent software and patch management. IT can deploy and update software to any PC in the organization through targeted, policy-based deployment. End users are reliably given the most up-to-date software when and where they need it without manual processes. Software can be delivered by IT or requested from a self-service portal by the end user.
  • Remote assistance. IT can troubleshoot and fix client PCs anywhere in the world with flexible remote management capabilities. IT can remotely control client systems or use real-time systems management to fix problems without disrupting end users or visiting their desks.

Get smarter about server management

As the economy worsens, it’s also becoming clear that IT organizations need to be smarter about managing their business-critical servers. It’s perhaps not surprising that the most recent Symantec State of the Data Center Report identified server consolidation and server virtualization as the top two server-related initiatives at companies around the world. While consolidation and virtualization offer huge benefits, they also bring on new challenges. For example, there is the increased complexity that results from virtual server sprawl.
Of course, there are plenty of other challenges as well, such as knowing the status and configuration details of all business-critical servers, managing in a mixed server environment, distributing software and patches, and using multiple tools to manage the servers.
Altiris Server Management Suite 7.0 from Symantec provides a set of tools that solves key operational challenges throughout the life of the server:
  • Improved provisioning streamlines and automates complex server builds for the latest operating systems, including Windows Server 2008 and Linux. The suite also provides tight integration with popular hardware from Dell, HP, IBM, VMware, and others.
  • Enhanced monitoring and alerting capabilities allow administrators to proactively monitor critical server components and view current health and remediation status. New features include a centralized event console and a wizard based interface.
  • Complete process automation orchestrates interactions between people, systems, and tasks.
  • Enhanced day-to-day operations enable expanded centralized management, actionable information, and a better view of events. The suite comes with improved reporting that gives IT more options for managing servers.
  • Expanded management enables IT to manage more technologies, with greater efficiency, on more platforms. The suite can be installed and configured with less time while providing better support for Windows, UNIX, VMware, and Linux.
To maximize these benefits, Symantec and its partners offer consulting, education, and support services that help rapidly configure and deploy the Symantec Management Platform in a production environment, delivering a best-in-class implementation from trained experts.

Conclusion

Today’s tough economic climate is challenging companies to reduce costs while continuing to focus on improving efficiencies. For IT departments everywhere, it’s truly a “do more with less” dilemma.
Client and server management suites from Symantec allow organizations to significantly reduce the hidden costs of managing endpoint systems throughout the IT lifecycle. Manual processes are automated, lowering overall operating costs. Ultimately, Symantec’s client and server management solutions help IT increase efficiency while reducing costs, complexity, and downtime.

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