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Welcome to the Windsor Group knowledge base of articles
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This just in: The state of Wyoming has announced it’s moving to the cloud. What does that mean for you? It’s no secret that government entities as well as private enterprise companies around the world are grappling with issues surrounding cloud computing and data centers.

Wyoming was the first state to adopt Google Apps for Government, and that was three years ago. That decision enabled employees statewide to use Google docs and other teamwork tools, and it enabled the state to consolidate 13 email systems. And here’s a little secret: they now buy only a quarter of the Microsoft licenses they used to purchase.

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IT cost reduction ideas are always in high demand. No matter where you are in your  cost-cutting program, there’s usually yet another way to reduce further. Bear in mind, though, that most enterprise CIOs, CFOs and CEOs are now more closely focused on optimizing their spend, not simply lowering costs. They’re thinking strategically, not just with dollar signs in mind.

If you need additional, fool-proof IT cost reduction ideas, here are five that have proven to be especially effective for other enterprises. If you’ve been-there-done-that, could it be you overlooked something?

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It’s not enough to evaluate your IT infrastructure purely as a discrete set of capabilities. To meet today’s decision-making needs, you need a bigger, better baseline. A service-based IT infrastructure baseline looks at your entire enterprise – not just what you’re using, but the services you’re delivering, to whom, how well and the true costs. The key characteristics of such a baseline are completeness and accuracy.

Managing your IT environment has become more complex and less predictable, as technology continues to change dramatically and enterprises struggle to determine how to best transform themselves in a world where it’s nearly impossible to see what’s around the bend. To build a baseline that has real value, you have to delve deeply into every aspect of your IT status.

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An IT service assessment is supposed to look like a finely-wrought portrait of your enterprise, from an IT point of view, of course. You can no longer separate “IT” from the overall context of your organization, because the services you deliver to internal and external customers represent your company’s lifeblood – your ability to function smoothly and to nimbly ride the waves of today’s highly fluid business environment.

That fluidity is the reason an IT service assessment has to be more than a snapshot. It has to be about patterns and preparedness. Just because certain services or levels of service are top priorities now, doesn’t necessarily indicate how well they’ll serve you in the future.

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Out of sight, out of mind. The cloud is invisible to users, so it’s easy to think of it as non-existent in some ways. That impression is exacerbated by industry hype that emphasizes the greater efficiency and savings of cloud computing for users – no equipment to buy and maintain, and no related overhead.

All that cloud data has to live somewhere, despite the fact that it’s no longer stored on individual company servers. So we now have tens of thousands of huge data centers around the world. That adds up to hundreds of thousands of square feet of servers, all of which require extensive and carefully controlled cooling systems.

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Every company is constantly on the lookout for new IT cost reduction ideas they might be able to put into play. But achieving maximum savings isn’t simply a matter of plugging in the latest IT cost reduction ideas and watching your expense lines shrink. Every enterprise has to approach savings from a strategic standpoint, based on your individual business goals and other big-picture factors as well as daily operational needs.

With that in mind, here are three conceptual approaches and one hot-off-the-press specific idea. The three approaches won’t be news to you, but have you been using each of these strategies to the fullest advantage?

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If you’re considering an IT service assessment, you’re thinking strategically about your corporate future. Is the timing right? Do you need an IT assessment now?

When was the last time you conducted an IT service assessment?

If your response to that question was, “um …,“ that indicates it’s been too long. Or, worse, that your organization has never undergone this kind of self-study. Either way, it’s definitely time for an IT service assessment.

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How well you define your current IT infrastructure service costs and output directly affects your ability to make sound business decisions, not merely your ability to tighten a few line items in your budget. You want to consider your situation from two standpoints -- service quality and cost efficiency.

That’s why most organizations now talk about optimizing their spend, rather than simply focusing on cost reductions. Spending less overall isn’t a viable goal if the result is weakened capability. You want to spend as little as necessary to get the biggest explosion of value from your IT infrastructure – power when you need it, no cost when you don’t.

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