Affordable IT

Are you scrounging for spare change to pay for critical equipment and services? You're not alone.

August 27, 2004

2 Min Read
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Lean Yet Strong

Thankfully, IT organizations have come a long way when it comes to managing projects on time and within budget. We take a more holistic view of our responsibilities. That means being lean yet strong, and thrifty without being stingy. We've learned how to measure the value of IT--calculating return on investment and total cost of ownership, evaluating the risk a project may create (or mitigate, as is the case in many information security initiatives). We've learned that sacrificing some flexibility or advanced product features may produce simpler, more affordable solutions. We've learned not only to work within the budgets our business offices create, but also to justify our budget needs in a language the business office can understand.

This is not to say we've met all our challenges. And there's the risk that we could get too chintzy. When you cut corners, whether to save a buck or to get a project completed, you usually introduce risk to your organization. You'll have to consider a number of trade-offs.

For instance, a series of point products may help you solve individual problems, but if you must integrate them with your current IT infrastructure and applications, you'll have to spend some time and money later to get them to talk with one another. Conversely, opting for a single vendor to exact volume discounts and ease support and management can lead to costly lock-in. Using commercial soft- ware often comes with a hefty purchase and support price, and there's always the risk that your vendor will discontinue the product, or worse, go out of business. Yet using open-source software and shareware comes with its own maintenance and support risks.

Even More ...At Network Computing, we spend a lot of time testing and evaluating enterprise-class hardware and software; it's what we do. But we always take affordability into account. In product reviews, for instance, price is factored into our Report Card grades, as are the related affordability traits of manageability and ease of use.

Starting in the Oct. 1 issue of Network Computing, we'll be doing even more for those of you who have to perform the Herculean task of managing a network with fewer resources than are reasonable. That issue will kick off a section, called Affordable IT, that will run in every other issue of the magazine, helping you meet both the business and technological challenges of working under tight IT budgets. As with the rest of the magazine, we hope you'll find useful information in Affordable IT regardless of your company's or organization's size--SMB, branch office, department or large enterprise.

Well, that's our story. We'd also like to hear yours. Send us your tips, tools, products, etc. for managing business technology affordably. Or just tell us your war stories. Write to us at the address below.

Mike Lee is Network Computing's editor. Write to him at [email protected].

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