Network Infrastructure Drill-Down: Cost-Cutting Strategies

As budget belts tighten, creating efficiencies in the data center becomes even more crucial, but IT managers and CIOs may be faced with a quandary: what in the data center should be trimmed?

Virtualization and other consolidation strategies can be beneficial, but before ditching a few server racks and squeezing functionality from several appliances into one, it’s crucial to create an understanding of network optimization, experts note, since that’s the only way to truly realize if ROI-focused efforts are working.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about supporting the end user experience while delivering services at the lowest cost possible,” says Eric Hanselman, Director of Sales Engineering at Leostream, a technology-agnostic desktop virtualization firm.

There are numerous monitoring tools that track application performance, network throughput and capacity, and other issues, and CIOs need to be aware of issues like usage and efficiency, he adds.

“Understanding what’s running on the network can be a complex path,” he says. “But there’s no other way to figure out what can be reduced or eliminated.”

For example, he points out, a company might have an array of network resources in place for handling heavy application activity, but it may be that only one department is using an app to that level. If accounting is continually doing large amounts of queries in Oracle, for instance, it would need significant application performance services, but the HR department, which doesn’t run Oracle, wouldn’t need that level of network performance.

For many organizations, the service delivery perspective is lacking, believes Steven Shalita, Vice President of Marketing at NetScout Systems, which specializes in application and network performance monitoring and management.

“You have to know how everything interoperates, so organizations are increasingly looking for ways to get that view,” he says.

Once aspects like traffic flow and application usage are pinned down, cost cutting can come through tweaking optimization in service delivery strategies, says Shalita. An IT department can get a better handle on how to integrate the functionality of multiple devices into the larger network landscape.

“You need to understand the interrelationships of bandwidth use,” Shalita adds. “And you simply can’t do that without visibility into the network.”