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10 Technologies to Help Cut Costs in the Slow Economy

2,449 Expert Mod 2GB

There's no escaping the slowing economy. Layoffs are being announced and companies are in cost cutting mode. Whether you are a tech at a big company or a small one man operation it's time to cut the fat before you get cut out of work. Unnecessary expenses have to go and inefficient ways of working need to be analyzed and improved.

If done right, the use of some technologies can greatly reduce costs and make us more efficient.

Here are ten technologies every techie should consider to help cut costs in this slow economy:

1) Open Source
Dump the high cost proprietary systems for equivalent open source systems where you can. There are many operating systems, databases, content managment systems, communications tools, networking and administration tools that are open source and free to use. Choose mature products with a strong community following and plenty of available support options either via developers or third party support offerings.

2) Software as a Service
Instead of spending money on time on developing complex in-house solutions to CRM, support and project management use SaaS providers such as Sales Force, Google, 37Signals and Right Now . Not only do you save money by using these third party tools by cutting development costs, but you also reduce costs on specialized hardware to run similar in-house solutions. Many SaaS solutions can also be integrated via the providers API's.

3) Virtualization
Do you have multiple servers and workstations handling different tasks? Combine them into one machine. With virtualization suites such as ones offered by VMware you can take one machine and turn into multiple virtual machines. One machine can act as your web server, your network share and your exchange server. Each virtual machine will work independent of the other and optimize utilization of hardware resources.

4) Thin Clients
Employees no longer need to use expensive machines for light computing work such as emailing and using basic office work. Low powered thin-clients connected to a single multi-core system with x64 architecture and virtualization can power the work of multiple employees. Besides better utilization of hardware and energy, you also introduce efficiency for IT managers by reducing the # of systems they have to manage.

5) Enterprise 2.0
Get your organization connected and sharing information. Use intranet systems with built in messaging, voice messages, wikis, profiles and contact information. Keeping your employees connected and sharing information about your business can keep the organization from making costly decisions.

6) Digital Documents
Move as much of your company's paper usage to digital as you can. Not only do you save money with printing you also save money on office space to store all that paperwork. Other ways to save more on printed costs is move to email for memos and letters. Also consider e-fax services as an alternative to fax machines.

7) Fast Efficient Networks
Using all these cost savings technologies will require a fast internal network and fast bandwidth coming in. These days companies and individuals can subscribe to fiber-optic bandwidth providers. With higher bandwidth network such as fiber lines, you can also server voice and video through the same connection. Internally make sure you've upgraded as much of your hardware to gigabit speeds. Newer networking gear tends to be more energy efficient and capable of handling faster network speeds. A fast network means less waiting for employees and more working.

8) Data Storage
Storing as much of your company's data and information on the network keeps it accessible for employees and staff to use at any time from any location. This saves employees from physically having to search for the required data or information. The time savings will make your staff more efficient. Saving data on cheap mass storage hard drives saves you office space for storing documents and paper work.

9) Wireless
With wireless connectivity employees can work from anywhere. They are no longer stuck to their desk and their mobile systems such as laptops can move with them from meetings to conference areas. An added benefit of wireless systems are the savings in running wire for hard networking.

10) Virtual Office
Cut the overhead costs of keeping employees on site by allowing them to work from home. Virtual offices reduce the amount of resources required for equipment and office space. Many companies have already instituted virtual office policies and have realized great results from doing so. With virtual offices upfront investments in secure networking will be required. Setting up VPNs and access to other network resources for employees will be a must.
Sep 3 '08 #1
4 35365
3,237 Expert 2GB
A good article overall, but I am having trouble making the connection between going wireless and saving money. While I agree that wireless technologies can be a boon to offices, it seems like a tertiary step beyond a wired infrastructure, because you actually need both.

In office buildings wired networks are typically already laid, and modern computers come with gigabit Ethernet on the motherboard. Using this logic, it would seem that adding a wired infrastructure increases costs, having to purchase access points, outfit all machines with wireless cards, and maintain additional hardware.
Sep 4 '08 #2
2,449 Expert Mod 2GB
With wirlesses the number of nodes or clients is virtually limitless compared to wired on one accesspoint. So if you were to serve up lets say 80 connections via wired you could have 3-4 24port switches and then run wires out to seperate locations for each client.

Newer buildings do a good job at running a good amount of ports for each space. Older buildings, like where we are located run on old telephone wire, where i believe we're capped out at 10mbit. Even with old wiring we don't have enough built in ports for the # of desks we have to serve. At the end we ended up choosing wireless.
Sep 5 '08 #3
Fairly general guidelines - not necessarily possible to execute at every business at same level of cost-effectiveness.

There is an option not mentioned - hosted Open Source applications

Giving the current maturity of Free Open Source line of business applications and cost of SaaS applications - I believe that in many cases, the price/performance of a hosted Web app is superior.

For example - suppose you need a CRM system (if you're a large shop, you already have one - like Siebel). We're a small group of 5 guys - and we were using Salesforce.com with one of our business partners and wanted to use SF.com for our own business. The cost is $325/month or almost $4,000/year for 5 users. You can get 90% of the functionality from Sugar CRM for the cost of a onetime installation (about $100 if you pay someone) and $15/month for the hosting - if you use dreamhost.com (like we do). That's a net savings of 3,000 / year

Danny Lieberman
Oct 27 '08 #4
Maintaining million lines of opensource code is more nightmarish than maintaining same lines of inhouse code.
Jun 3 '09 #5

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