Technology Projects for 2010

by on 09/01/2010

This article looks at the projects that FITM believes every company should be undertaking in 2010. These projects all address business issues and bring business benefit while being relatively easy to implement. Critically, these projects do not have a huge price tag and each has a short payback period.

FITM provides an independent and flexible outsourced IT Director service and can assist in the planning and implementation of projects. FITM’s partners provide deep technical knowledge in each of the subjects discussed in this article. Please contact FITM for further information.

Introduction

  • What technology projects should you be considering for 2010?
  • What technologies have a short-term payback?

In the current economic climate, it is more important than ever to carefully consider the projects that you intend to tackle. While it may be tempting to believe that spending little or no money is the best policy, there are several projects that bring significant business benefit and have a very short payback period.

FITM believes that there are 4 essential technology projects that every company should be undertaking in 2010. This article looks at each of these projects.

Projects

Windows 7

  • Save up to £100 per PC by rolling out Windows 7

So said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, at last year’s launch. Interestingly, Microsoft has given no detailed justification for this statement, but it is undoubtedly true that there are features within Windows 7, especially when combined with the latest version of Microsoft’s server software, that bring significant business benefit and save money, even if it is not as much as Steve Ballmer would have us believe.

The real question is why you wouldn’t look to upgrade to Windows 7 in 2010. Windows 7 is a major improvement over Vista and contains much functionality for both users and the IT department (the key enhancements include an updated user interface, AppLocker, BitLocker to Go, Branche Cache, better User Account Control settings and support for HomeGroups). The project to upgrade your desktops is far simpler than with previous operating system releases. Previously, companies have had to test all their applications to ensure that they worked with the new operating system. However, with Windows 7 comes “XP mode”, and if your application doesn’t work within Windows 7, just switch it to XP mode and it’ll run perfectly.

Gartner has classified the Windows 7 upgrade as “all but inevitable”. It will only be possible to downgrade a new PC to XP for a limited time and, it will cost more to upgrade these PCs in the future and support for XP will be stopped at some point in the future (currently 2014).

This project is relatively easy to do, it will bring significant business benefit and it will save money in the short to medium term, so every company should be looking to upgrade to Windows 7 at some point in 2010.

Virtualisation

  • 65% of an average server’s power is used doing nothing.

Server virtualisation makes use of this spare power by running several “virtual servers” on one physical server. The average ratio of server consolidation is 7 to 1. This saves money on power and air conditioning costs, on hardware and on software licences and it helps to eliminate single points of failure: if one server blows up, the virtual servers that it was running are simply launched on a different physical server, with little or no delay.

There are several other types of virtualisation (desktop, storage, network and hardware), and depending on the technical solution chosen, this can be a simple or a complex project. FITM believes that the right place to start is with a simple server virtualisation project that will improve the resilience of a company’s IT systems and pay for itself in the short term. Other types of virtualisation and server virtualisation complexity can be added in the future if required and justified.

Green IT

If a company is not currently considering their environmental policy, then it is only a matter of time before it is forced to do so, either by legislation or customer demand. The surprise is that green policies often cut costs as well, for example by saving on power consumption and hardware requirements.

An IT department can make a significant contribution to a company’s environmental policy and the IT policy should include:

  • Asset Management – extending asset life, disposal and recycling (UK firms are required to have documented proof of appropriate IT asset disposal)
  • Reduction of power and heat consumption
  • Implementation of video and other conferencing technologies to mitigate the need for travel

Some policies, such as turning PCs off at night, double sided printing and not over-cooling server rooms are very easy to implement. Recent technology has also risen to the challenge, with technologies such as server virtualisation (see above), thin clients, more efficient cooling, power management software, energy efficient equipment etc. cutting a company’s carbon footprint and frequently saving money at the same time.

However, it should be emphasised that IT is only one part of a company’s environmental policy, and items such fleet fuel efficiency, international travel, green product design and remote working are equally important and easily overlooked.

Green IT should be on the agenda for all companies in 2010 with some quick wins easily cost justified and relatively simple to implement.

Consumerisation and Social Software

The world of technology is changing fast. Your staff now use computer and mobile phone equipment out of the office that is quite likely to be more powerful than the equipment they use at work. They are used to doing their research on the Internet and communicating with their colleagues and friends in a variety of new ways – texting, chat and social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter.

Companies need to address this if they are to take advantage of new technology and not alienate their staff. At one extreme are the companies who lock down their IT environment. They don’t allow non-company equipment to be used and restrict the use of social networking and other Internet sites. Advocates of this approach argue that this prevents staff from wasting time and makes the IT department’s life easier.

At the opposite extreme are those companies who have embraced technology. Imagine a company who gives each employee £1,000 to spend as they wish on technology, perhaps a laptop or a smartphone which they can use for both work and leisure. These employees will, so the argument goes, be more motivated, have better equipment and have a better understanding of how to use technology. They will use social networking sites to communicate and research. These companies also embrace remote working, allowing their employees a more flexible working pattern and so a better work / life balance.

The truth lies somewhere in-between the two extremes and it is incumbent on each company to decide where they stand on the spectrum. Whatever the decision, there are technological implications, for example the security and audit issues, and these need to be addressed in 2010.

Other Possible Projects

The four projects identified above are those that FITM believes should be undertaken in 2010 by all companies in addition to industry or company specific initiatives. Other technological projects that merit consideration include unified communication solutions and cloud computing, but FITM recommends caution in implementing these this year.

How Can FITM Help?

FITM provides consultancy to help you select, justify and manage technological projects. FITM has partners who provide specialist technical knowledge to assist with specific projects if required.  Contact FITM to discuss your 2010 projects.

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