DIY tips: How to cut costs and get more from your IT gear

Forget buying new tools; adjusting applications and resources can deliver results in a downturn

With tech budgets shrinking, network professionals are spending less time planning new purchases and more time trying to cut costs and squeeze more value out of existing IT resources.

"Cost reduction and cost containment is a priority, and this economic downturn is really a catalyst to become more efficient and better use the things we already have. If everything was rosy, we probably wouldn't be focusing so intensely on efficiencies right now," says Jake Seitz, enterprise architect at The First American Corp.

The Santa Ana, Calif.-based company established a task force to find the hidden gems amidst its current raft of software and high-tech tools, Seitz says. "We have a lot of disparate platforms and products, some of which have been a one-trick pony. We are reevaluating their capabilities and reusing them in different ways."

Seitz isn't alone. Many IT industry professionals realize they can find more uses for tools their company already owns and even kick off new initiatives without requesting any new funding. Here we've culled 10 ideas to consider.

Pool troubleshooting resources

Identifying areas in which staff can collaborate and more easily share information helps Brian Jones reduce manual efforts and improve response times when troubleshooting problems.

Jones, manager of research and network engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University's Tech Communications Network Services unit in Blacksburg, says his group recently moved in-house, off-the-shelf and open source tools into one centralized location with the help of wiki software from Confluence -- which he had on hand prior to the downturn. The software lets the network engineering and operations teams access data, documentation and tools from one toolbar.

"This way staff has the documentation it needs to address the problem as well as the ability to launch the tools to resolve the issues from that same toolbar," Jones explains. "It has really cut down on the time it takes to find the resources you need in a situation and helps staff efforts."

Use SNMP to track power usage

With green computing initiatives top of mind for their potential cost savings, many IT departments are tasked with trying to find ways to capture the power consumption and then reduce it across the environment. Without new tools, that task might seem a bit daunting.

Shane Bordeau, senior regional manager of strategic accounts at network performance management vendor NetQoS, explains that IT managers can use SNMP Management Information Bases to monitor power consumption -- without spending a penny

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