Masdar consolidates IT and cuts costs

Around AED 15 million in IT costs saved over year and a half, says acting head of ICT

Tags: MasdarOracle CorporationUnited Arab Emirates
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Masdar consolidates IT and cuts costs Srivastava: “We started questioning each and every application.” (ITP Images)
By  David Ingham Published  July 15, 2012

Around AED 15 million in IT costs saved over year and a half, says acting head of ICT.

The IT department of Masdar estimates it has saved around AED 15 million over the last year and a half by rationalising its IT infrastructure and renegotiating terms. When it began reviewing its IT strategy in 2010, the company identified several challenges, including too many applications, products out of warranty and excessive telecomms costs.

Out of a myriad of applications, the organisation has so far phased out more than half a dozen. “We started questioning each and every application, looking at how this application is adding value back to the business,” said Alok Srivastava, acting head of ICT & senior manager, IT applications, Masdar. “We started identifying certain components that could be merged into our better platforms. For example, certain processes and certain approvals, we started migrating them into Oracle.”

Key to understanding the value of an application was understanding how much was being spent on licensing and how much a product was costing to support. This applied not only to applications that were phased out, but also ones that remain in active use.
For example, the IT team has been able to save around half a million dirhams each on licenses for Oracle and Documentum, two of the organisation’s key application platforms.

“We identified one and a half million dirhams of losses on licenses that we deployed and were not used,” explains Srivastava. “If any user comes to us now and asks for Visio, MS Project or Oracle, we ask them why they need it and share the budget with them. That has changed the user’s mentality, they don’t just come to IT and demand things. Now they are becoming aware of the cost associated with those requests.”

Vendor optimisation has also been a big focus, with savings of around AED 4.5 million achieved. Web site hosting charges have been cut by 80% as a result of negotiating lower rates and consolidating hosting with a single provider within UAE. Some outsourced jobs, such as Unix administration and ERP support, were brought in house and negotiations were opened with vendors. “A few high cost vendors were replaced with low cost and more effective vendors,” Srivastava says.

The number of server boxes in the data centre has been reduced and the level of virtualisation increased. Multiple SANs have been consolidated, which has helped reduce backup times.

One of the biggest individuals areas for savings has been telecomms. Previously under  the control of general services, telecomms was brought under IT and since then around AED 4.5 million has been saved. “We deactivated a lot of connections, which saved us a couple of million, and we started negotiating with [operators],” explains Srivastava.

As a result of those talks, Masdar has secured lower rates, increased bandwidth and obtained a number of free Blackberry devices from its provider. Rolling out those new devices has reduced the volume of support calls. “When you analyse your user call volume, the major issues you will find are with the laptops or mobile phones that are more than three years old,” says Srivastava.

He says that in addition to reducing costs, several other benefits have been realised from the review of IT. Overall IT security has been improved and user complaints are dealt with more quickly. The morale of the IT team has also increased, along with its standing within the organisation.

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