2010 Investment Guide
by John Parkinson
We all talk a lot about ROI - Return on Investment - but there hasn't been a lot to invest lately, and I don't see that changing much in 2010. Technologists have always been a forward-looking group - things are always better faster and cheaper in the future, so ROI has always made sense intellectually. However the constant churn in technology investments has not been matched by the achievement of the promised returns.
So rather than rushing headlong into yet more "better in the future promises", I want to suggest that we all use 2010 to catch up on the past - to focus on ROH - Return on History. Let's make what we already have in place finally produce the returns we promised in years past.
Here's my top 2010 ROH "to do" list:
â¢ Cut down on the amount of unnecessary data duplication across the business. Storage and data management costs are eating IT everywhere I look, yet utilization of storage assets is often poor and data lifecycles aren't well managed. Copies and replicas show up everywhere you look - but only if you look. Use the tools already available and it's amazing what you will find and can probably save. Potential savings: significant, maybe as much as 40% of total data protection costs.
â¢ Aggressive virtualization of the compute environment. I think that just about everyone has started on this, but how far have you really gone? I think you can get to an average of 70% capacity utilization without too much effort, but I don't see too many people there yet on a broad basis. Time to get this done. Potential savings: significant, in the 30% to 50% range. And think about where you can use variable capacity via the "cloud" - another highly visible 2010 theme.
â¢ Move the data and voice network into the 21st Century. There is an incredible amount of 1980s thinking and technology in data and voice communications and there are better answers available today. Amongst them, why are you managing a network at all? At least in the US the carriers have finally gotten good at network management. They are probably better than you can hope to be. Outsource to them. Probably won't save a lot (maybe 5% to 10% over in-house costs), but the shift will free up scarce resources to focus on more critical areas.
â¢ Stop paying for software you don't use or don't need. Eliminating "shelfware" or duplicate tools and products (everyone has both) can save you money with almost no effort, while also simplifying future support skill requirements, adding to the savings. I'd use the simplification process to weed out vendors with egregiously expensive support costs. Potential savings: moderate to significant, in the 10% to 30% range. Reduced integration effort down the road could double these savings.
â¢ Automate as much as possible. There is still a remarkable amount of manual effort in running IT, even though most of us own the workflow and management tools that would automate much of what we do. Time to get serious about effective automation. Potential savings; moderate in the short term (maybe 10%) but significant later.
â¢ Pay attention to power and cooling. You probably won't save much at first, but the future does not look likely to include cheap power and cooling is jut more power. This is one where getting ahead of the game is a really good idea.
Give half the savings back to the business sand invest the other half in more of the same approach, especially simplification and automation. If we get even a portion of this done in 2010, future investments might actually deliver on the promised returns a lot more often - and we would need less investment anyway.
Best wishes for a prosperous 2010.