Optimal returns

Following a significant investment in infrastructure last year, Schneider Electric's IT team is working to gain maximum return on investment in 2009.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  February 2, 2009

More on the plate

Not only was 2008 crucial for the company because of the datcentre consolidation, but also because it was the time the 14-member IT team decided to try their hand at virtualisation.

"Virtualisation gives us agility. You can provision servers easily, you have less reliance on hardware and there is the factor of reduced cost. In a datacentre you have many servers which do not offer optimal utilisation and this might also be cyclic in nature. For example, we have a training server. That training server is not being utilised daily. With virtualisation, you can do away with dedicated machines and optimise operations," points out Iarca.

He goes on, "Another thing is server provisioning. You have changing business processes, new businesses, which means new business processes and you need new solutions for these. If you were to buy a server, it will take two months for it to be installed in your office. With virtualisation, you can provision resources within hours."

After much consideration, the company picked the solution provided by VMWare.

"VMWare has a long history, and they have achieved maturity with their product in the space. Unlike many others, virtualisation is not just a nice-to-have-product, which you include in your general range, for VMWare. They are dedicated to this," says Iarca.

Having installed the virtualisation solution, and having seen benefits from it, Iarca states that they will be looking to take advantage of more of its capabilities, and consider using it for disaster recovery and back-up activities.

Backed by all the investments in hardware and software that the firm made last year, Iarca expects 2009 to be slightly quieter.

"Having implemented this big project last year, the natural development will be to reap its benefit. So the next logical step is to have a network rationalisation and IP telephony rationalisation. We will be rationalising and taking advantage of the new technologies just implemented. We have a considerable amount of bandwidth which we don't need. We need to go on MPLS which can give us quality of service," states Iarca.

IT budgets are planned on an annual basis. General objectives are outlined by the management and the IT team meets them periodically to understand these. Once done, IT proposes solutions and suggests a budget, which is considered by the management before sign off.

"Usually the budgets are approved. I have been with the company for nine years and collaboration between IT and management is good," says Iarca.

As for 2009, Iarca expects the budget to be lower than last year, simply because the company will not be taking up as huge and ambitious projects as they did last year.

"The proposed budget for the year is less than last year's, because we have done a substantial investment in 2008. We do not need a similar investment this year as well," points out Iarca.

Iarca, though, admits that in the prevailing financial situation it is essential for everybody to work at reducing cost levels, which is what the company's IT team will also aim to do - with optimisation and rationalisation - throughout 2009, and thereby help the organisation in weathering the global storm much the better.

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