How to keep a small business IT infrastructure simple

16th Sep 2013 | 07:00

How to keep a small business IT infrastructure simple

Take a good look at the servers, applications and cabling

Many small businesses initially build an IT infrastructure that is easy to manage, easy to understand and highly efficient. However, left unchecked they can soon become large, complex and create almost as many problems as they solve.

A complex environment is one that can cost an organisation dearly, slowing down deployments and raising management costs. But there are steps that can be taken to reduce IT complexity, keep costs down and boost productivity.

Retire old servers

Even for a small company, servers are continually added to the IT estate and you will be surprised how many are left on and running months, even years after the application for which it was used was dropped.

When looking at simplifying the IT infrastructure, be aware that it can be all too easy to fix a problem with more hardware without considering whether old hardware is still being used. Reducing the number of servers means you will spend less on maintenance, electricity and people who work on them, while maintaining the same level of productivity.

Reduce application sprawl

Often running in tandem with server sprawl, it can be all too easy to have too many applications running on your infrastructure.

This could be for a variety of reasons: someone in accounts uses one type of invoicing software, while another chooses a different piece of software; or software can be superseded but left running on the network as no one knows who is still using it. This all costs money and increases complexity.

A lot of money can be saved if you are prepared to ask a few questions. What applications and databases are in use? Who uses them? Can they be retired? This will save money on licensing and server use.

Convergence

Most server rooms and data centres can be a maze of servers, storage and networking equipment, and different equipment will require different management tools.

There is a momentum behind converging servers, storage and networking onto one platform that can help keep IT infrastructure simple. Systems such as the Dell PowerEdge VRTX combine all these features onto a single chassis with one management tool to control the lot.

Look at your cabling

An often overlooked part of infrastructure is network cabling. With new servers coming online and old ones retired, it can be all too easy to run cables though your server room or data centre without a second thought to how they are organised.

It may seem obvious, but cabling can end up a complete mess that leaves a puzzle to any IT staff sent to fix a problem. Keeping track of what cable goes where and cabling in a tidy manner can save a lot of money on maintenance.

Taking IT to the cloud

The ultimate way to keep IT infrastructure simple is by not owning it. Look at what your organisation needs in terms of compute power and applications and ask yourself if any of it would be better run in the cloud.

Moving to the cloud means that someone else can manage and maintain the infrastructure while you can get on with more strategic work.

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