It’s a common story in IT: An enterprise is running servers that are 5, 6 or 7 years old (sometimes including equipment that is no longer even supported by the vendor), simply because there’s no room in the existing IT budget to fund an upgrade.

But when organizations plan carefully, they often find that they’re able to achieve long-term cost reductions as a result of infrastructure upgrades. We’re not just talking about the increased productivity and decreased maintenance costs that come along with an infrastructure refresh (although those are important factors). In fact, an infrastructure upgrade has the potential to yield tangible, ongoing reductions to IT operating budgets — if the IT department knows where to look.

Here are four areas that all organizations should explore as they seek to upgrade IT infrastructure:

1. Resource Consolidation

As part of our ongoing relationship with customers, CDW offers no-cost data center assessments. In my experience, these engagements almost always uncover opportunities to consolidate resources and cut down on physical infrastructure (and, in turn, reduce costs). We use tools to scan servers and storage appliances, as well as to monitor how much CPU, memory, network throughput, disk input-output and storage capacity exists within an organization — and how much of those resources the organization is actually using.

Modern servers and storage appliances have become so powerful that it’s common for organizations to accidentally overprovision resources, and some organizations are paying for infrastructure that they’re not really using. Identifying those unnecessary expenses is the first step in getting rid of them.

2. Cold Data

As storage needs grow, IT shops tend to simply build out more capacity, without giving much thought to what sorts of resources are needed to do the job. As a result, many companies are paying for Tier 1 storage solutions to store files that they barely ever access. By moving this “cold data” to a lower tier of storage, organizations can often cut costs without negatively affecting performance.

3. Backup and Disaster Recovery

We still see a lot of customers doing disk-to-disk backup and using tape for secondary purposes — both of which are costly and complex processes that have traditionally been a pain point for organizations. With more cloud backup and Disaster Recovery as a Service options popping up in recent years, organizations have the opportunity to jettison their existing processes and write data to the cloud for backup.

The cost analysis here can be tricky. At first blush, cloud options may appear to be more expensive. But when the total cost of existing processes is calculated (including staff time, equipment and storage expenses), a more modern backup solution can often provide a better return on investment.

4. Cloud Testing

Many organizations are skittish about moving too many resources to the public cloud, too quickly. In the past, this fear was largely the result of security concerns. Today, however, IT leaders are more likely motivated by horror stories of peer companies that moved massive workloads to the cloud, only to bring the resources back in-house after the service proved too costly.

CDW has assessment tools to help organizations analyze the costs of running workloads in the public cloud and compare those costs with the expense of purchasing and managing on-premises solutions. By testing first, organizations can be sure that they choose the most cost-effective infrastructure model.

It’s true, of course, that infrastructure upgrades can be costly. But by working with a partner like CDW to evaluate existing solutions and compare different options, organizations can maximize the chances that new hardware investments will be a financial winner.

Want to learn more about how IT infrastructure modernization can help your organization meet its changing needs? Visit CDW.com/DataCenter.

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