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Strengthen Your Operations for Today’s Economy

September 24, 2009

Summary

Smart IT leaders know there are plenty of things they can do today to help ensure they come out of the current economic crisis in better shape than their competitors. Find out how to strengthen your operations without spending more than you currently do.
It may seem that there’s not all that much you can do to blunt the impact of the current economic downturn on your organization. After all, the pressure is on to shave budgets, shelve ambitious IT programs, and freeze or reduce headcount.
But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Smart IT leaders know there are plenty of things they can do today to help ensure they come out of the current crisis in better shape than their competitors. Continue reading to find out how to strengthen your operations without spending more than you currently do.

Cautious spending is imperative

The current economic climate is forcing IT departments everywhere to reconsider their spending. According to projections released by IDC in February, worldwide IT spending will total $1.44 trillion in 2009, an increase of 0.5% over 2008. That’s down from IDC’s 2.6% growth forecast last November and way down from the 5.9% growth IDC had anticipated in an August 2008 report.
Given IDC’s outlook, Symantec recommends that organizations conduct a business impact analysis of their IT services and classify them based on their importance to the business. This will help organizations spend wisely, focusing their spending on the applications that matter and ensuring that those services meet the required service levels.
Across each tier there are challenges that organizations must consider to ensure that they are optimizing their IT budgets and not overspending on servers, storage, data and application protection, and administration. At the same time, a business impact analysis can also help ensure that you aren’t under-protecting by leaving yourself vulnerable to application downtime and data loss.

Get smarter about storage

According to a recent survey by Applied Research, more than half of all organizations expect to spend more on storage in 2009 than they did in 2008. But at the same time, the latest Symantec State of the Data Center Report indicates that storage utilization hovers at just 50%.
Clearly, this state of affairs can’t continue.
Having an array only 50% utilized is like paying twice as much for the storage you need. Idle capacity also consumes power, increases cooling costs, and unnecessarily takes up floor space, which is often at a premium. A storage resource management (SRM) tool can help storage managers rectify this situation. It’s been said that managing storage without an SRM tool is like going on a journey without a map. With storage resource management, managers can assess their situation and gain an enterprise-wide view of the storage environment. They will then be in a position to answer three key questions: What is the average utilization rate? What is the utilization rate by application? Which applications are growing fastest (or slowest)? With answers to these questions, managers can identify problem areas and consolidation opportunities, and create a prioritized list of solutions.
At the same time, removing duplicate files can reduce network bandwidth expenses by as much as 500 times and cut wasted storage by as much as 50 times, according to Symantec research. Symantec recommends that organizations put storage on a “diet” by deploying deduplication technology to curb data bloat and save costs. Organizations can also leverage deduplication to eliminate redundant data within an application—particularly a collaborative application such as email—to keep data growth at bay. This allows for faster backup and recovery.
Remember: A copied file that will never be recovered is a wasted file and a recoverable cost. Remove it.
On a related note, don’t archive information you don’t need. After all, not all content is of the same value. For example, there is confidential business data, personal email, junk mail, spam, and so on. As a result, now more than ever you should be taking a hard look at ways to control your archive storage costs. An archiving solution with a content-aware classification methodology can help you shape the archive and store only business-valued content with context.
In addition, IT is being asked to partner with legal departments to develop information retention systems that not only ensure records are not accidentally lost or deleted, but can also ensure rapid recovery. Organizations faced with litigation involving e-discovery must be able to apply indefinite litigation hold of relevant content with minimal strain on storage and IT resources. An archiving solution can help you close the gap between technology and policies in order to eliminate the risk associated with non-compliance.

Standardize, then automate

The most successful IT leaders are engaged in standardizing processes, policies, and procedures across their organizations. Standardization means less complexity and makes it easier to introduce centralized management and automation, which helps to reduce worker silos, rationalize headcount, and redistribute resources to more profit-focused activities.
Symantec also recommends automating application recovery to provide faster recovery of mission-critical IT services. Automating recovery means less downtime, which means saving potentially lost revenues and increasing worker productivity, thus increasing the bottom line.

Conclusion

There may not be much you can do to affect the market right now, but there’s plenty you can do at an operational and strategic level to ensure that you come out of the current economic downturn in good shape. The steps outlined in this article can help put your infrastructure on a solid footing, so that when the economy recovers you’re in a position to take advantage of new business opportunities.
To learn more about cost-effective ways to ensure that your data center stays competitive, download the Symantec White Paper, “The IT Leaders’ Handbook – Optimizing in Today’s Economy.”

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