With IT playing an increasingly important role for many businesses, any efficiencies which can be made on the technology side represent welcome gains for organisations. The less they need to spend on hardware, software, IT management and power - while still retaining the same level of productivity and output - the better. Minimising costs in this area helps preserve budgets, freeing up funds to be invested elsewhere in the business.
A number of options exist for businesses looking to improve the efficiency of their IT infrastructure. The rapid pace of innovation within the sector means new fuel- and resource-efficient solutions are arriving at the market all the time. As such, companies are able to do more with less - using their PC fleets and servers to add organisational value without the level of costs they may have witnessed in the past.
Shifting IT solutions to the cloud is one way businesses can improve the efficiency of their IT. Since services are provided remotely via the internet, there is no longer a need to house as many power-hungry servers in-house. Instead, cloud users are reliant upon servers hosted in large-scale data centres run by the third-party service provider. As such, end-users are not required to pay the energy and cooling costs for multiple servers.
In a similar vein, cloud computing users can save costs on software and other applications. They have the option of paying for access to programmes on a service basis - essentially renting functionality from their provider. This means the company does not buy software outright, and cannot consider it a business asset, but it also means they only pay for services used. By utilising hosted services, companies can streamline their IT, and focus their spend on the solutions that really make a difference.
The use of virtualisation solutions can also help improve business IT efficiency. The technique enables businesses to consolidate their servers and desktops, creating a simpler and more dynamic infrastructure. Migrating physical servers on to virtual machines means companies no longer need to have multiple servers operating, all with fairly low utilisation rates. This can help reduce power consumption, and reduce companies' carbon footprint.
With fewer servers required, businesses can cut back on the associated hardware and infrastructure that comes with it. The fewer the number of racks required, and less networking equipment needed, the lower the costs. And not only this, but downsizing physical IT helps create room on your premises, which could be potentially used for other value-adding functions.
The advent of remote and mobile working solutions gives businesses the opportunity to increase IT efficiency. In the past, it was necessary to equip all workers with a desktop PC and their own working area, and power every computer during the day. But with employees now armed with web-enabled smartphones, tablets and laptops, they are free to operate from any location, providing it offers the required level of connectivity.
With employees able to work from home or on the move, businesses can legitimately reduce the number of PCs they keep in house. Implementing hot-desking strategies - where employees share the use of office computers - can enable them to streamline their corporate IT provision. Staff members can take it in turns to work remotely, using their own home broadband connection or a mobile device. And when they come into the office, they can simply log on to an available computer.
Find out more about Microsoft's cloud services, virtualisation technology and remote working support.
Posted by Alex Boardman