As companies shape their IT budgets for the year ahead, there may be some uncertainty about the best way to proceed in the current business climate. According to the 2012 Gartner Executive Programs CIO Survey, IT budgets had been essentially flat over the 10 years prior to 2013 and they only grew roughly 3.8 percent in 2013. Research firm Gartner is reporting that global IT spending will rise for the rest of 2014 and into 2015 as the rest of the economy expands and IT vendors introduce the latest products customers care about.
Given continued pressure to create value and control costs, organizations should consider how to achieve their goals while also meeting baseline operational expectations. By making five ideas central to their planning, organizations can optimize spending for their data center solutions in the year ahead:
1. Review everything: In a 2012 blog post, HP Vice President and General Manager for Software in EMEA Rafael Brugnini noted that many organizations tend to transfer their budget from one year to the next without examining how it is distributed. Instead of keeping line-items the same and simply adjusting spending based on business conditions, companies should consider that new solutions to old problems may have become available and examine what costs it might be possible to outsource.
2. Invest in innovation: Concerns about the economy are restricting investment and change in many organizations. The implications of this pattern are twofold: Businesses may want to make investments now in anticipation of future budget cuts, and companies can gain a competitive advantage by continually improving their data center strategy. Brugnini suggested organizations devote a smaller share of budgets to operational costs and focus on selectively investing in innovation. According to Data Center Journal’s Jeff Clark, anything a company is doing well will be emulated by competitors, so improvement and innovation must be a constant if businesses hope to remain successful.
3. Improve energy efficiency: Energy efficiency may have been talked to death, but, in the face of rising costs and environmental pressure, its importance cannot be underestimated, according to Clark. Since data center power demand is only going to increase with service needs, investing in more efficient infrastructure will be essential to cutting operational expenses.
4. Factor in security: A data breach can bring serious business consequences, including fines or sanctions if the data is subject to compliance regulations. While security is a preemptive measure, it is a necessary one that must be included in the budget, Clark noted. This includes planning for physical security, a consideration that may be best addressed by using a multi-tenant data center with staff onsite 24/7.
5. Plan for the unexpected: In business, as in life, there will always be unplanned expenses – equipment failures, natural disasters and more – and companies should manage budgets to handle these costs, Clark noted. One way to control unexpected facility costs is by moving to a wholesale data center, which provides infrastructure at a fixed, manageable expense.
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