Trimming The Fat In Your Datacenter

IT managers scrambling to find new ways to appease the corporate bean-counters should take a long, hard look at all the software residing in their budget-munching datacenters.

Fortune 1000 companies routinely spend 30 percent more on datacenter software than necessary—or roughly six percent of the total cost of operating the datacenter—according to a new report by Compass, an IT-consulting firm based in Naperville, Ill.

Mergers and acquisitions, intentional complexity of licensing agreements and the divergent agendas of IT staffers and finance personnel are the main reasons companies waste so much money on datacenter software each year, the report concludes.

So where’s the fat?

“Typically, especially in datacenters running mainframes, a large company will have software suites from multiple vendors that often overlap,” Scott Feuless, a senior consultant at Compass, said in an interview with “They sell you multiple packages and modules bundled together and that’s where you can start to find redundancy.”

Ironically, most of the vendors selling the software tools used in the datacenter also offer software asset management applications that help customers plan their software purchases to avoid this type of duplication.

But that only solves half the problem.

Compass recommends large companies institute a software asset management (SAM) initiative, essentially a product-by-product, license-by-license, function-by-function audit of all software in the datacenter. Once this review is completed, it’s crucial to establish a process to regularly review new and jettisoned software packages as they cycle through the datacenter.

It seems simple but it doesn’t happen often enough, Feuless said. He noted that business managers are often more obsessed with reducing costs and don’t really know what the software does, they just want to make sure they’re getting the best deal from the vendor.

Also, the tech guys, who are constantly being asked to do more with less, are more focused on getting the job done. If they happen to have more than one tool in their toolbox to solve the problem, so be it. Some might be more comfortable and have more experience using IBM software. Another group might prefer offerings from CA . Some other guy might be in love with BMC   tools.

“The two groups are so focused in different areas but for it to work, they really need to work together throughout the process,” Feuless said.

A well thought out software asset management program combined with the implementation of a SAM software package could trim mainframe-based datacenter costs by 10 percent, or 10s of millions of dollars for global companies, a year.

Believe it or not, a disturbingly high number of large companies still track their software inventory and licensing agreements on Microsoft Access or in an Excel spreadsheet, Feuless said.

“Asset-management software is fine and it will help you keep track of your assets,” he said. “But it only helps you if you have a process in place to implement it in the first place.”

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