This is part 2 of a 3 part series written by our collegue Paul Laberge on surving tough economical times.
Without a doubt, most of us are experiencing the most serious economic recession in our lifetimes. There's an awful lot of uncertainty that goes with that; everything from our retirement savings, disposable income and job security.
IT as an industry is certainly not immune to these worries and as professionals in this space, I'm sure the concerns I have are similar to those that you are facing. So, in stressful times like these, what are some of the things you can do to be successful and how can Microsoft help you achieve that success?
Well, to answer that question, let's take a look at it from a few different angles. First, there's the personal angle (i.e.: how do you make yourself more marketable and valuable in recession economy?). Second there's established business angle (i.e.: how can I make the business more efficient with IT?). Third, there's the start-up angle (i.e.: how can I launch a new business and make it successful?). Let's take a look at each of these angles separately through 3 separate yet connected blog posts. This post, the second in the series, will focus on Retaining Momentum for Established Business in a Recession.
Retaining Momentum for an Established Business in a Recession
Staying ahead of the curve as a business in this economy is really tough. Cost cutting is a common theme and finding ways of doing more with less is becoming more and more a way of life.
Microsoft's tools and platform are built to streamline the process of building great solutions. Visual Studio 2008, for example, allows development teams (including application developers, architects, testers and DBAs) to collaborate on projects as well as deliver the solution more quickly.
Collaboration and Line of Business
Our server software allows you to potentially save costs that are traditionally associated with day-to-day business. A great example of this would be our Unified Communications platform. Business travel is something that will never go away, but our Unified Communications solution with technologies such as LiveMeeting and Office Communicator, can reduce the need for employees to travel. You can also manage your telephony infrastructure with Unified Communications as it is VoIP-enabled.
Another platform that may surprise you with respect to increasing the productivity of employees is the Office 2007 platform. There are two aspects of this - desktop and server.
The server components include Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (with the unfortunate acronym of MOSS) and Microsoft Exchange. Sharepoint provides an enterprise-ready content management and collaboration platform that allows your employees to access the most up-to-date information and share ideas with others. Microsoft Exchange gives employees access to email literally anywhere and anytime. Regardless of location, employees have access to email on their desktop (using a mail client such as Outlook 2007), securely over the internet (through Outlook Web Access or OWA) and through mobile devices such as smartphones. The agility that these two server products offer allows employees to be agile and respond to business opportunities quickly.
The desktop component includes Microsoft Office 2007. Microsoft offers a number of versions of the Office 2007 suite to fit your business needs. That way you are not required to pay for functionality you don't necessarily require. It also is extremely customizable. With the introduction of Office Business Applications (OBA for short), you can now seamlessly integrate backoffice data into Microsoft Office. This is extremely valuable as it allows employees to access and manipulate data using familiar tools (such as Excel), reducing training requirements and potentially reducing complexity in data transfer processes by eliminating some third party applications for things like reporting.
Virtualization is a concept that is continuing to pick up steam. Microsoft's virtualization strategy focuses on five areas: server/hardware virtualization, application virtualization, storage virtualization, desktop virtualization and presentation virtualization. Microsoft's solutions in each of these areas is focused on allowing businesses to reduce bottom-line costs through a number of ways, including:
- rationalizing the amount of hardware required to run line of business applications
- lowering the number of installed software products on desktops
- increasing the manageability of servers and desktops from a central location
Microsoft System Center is another administrative tool that can help manage adminstrative costs associated to IT. While associated to our virtualization strategy, it offers a number of benefits to IT departments including:
- Configuration Management: Allows IT departments to centrally manage the configuration and provisioning of software to the company in a controlled manner
- Compliance: Central management of all servers with respect to ensuring compliance to policies driven by the business (such as security policies) as well as other compliance pressures such as regulatory compliance (e.g.: SOX, HIPAA, FISMA, etc.)
- Monitoring: Ability to monitor the health of servers from a centralized location and alert administrators when an issue arises
- Data Protection: manage the backup and recovery processes for multiple servers in a systematic fashion, both for physical and virtualized environments
I'll admit it - Windows Vista has been getting hit hard with FUD around its value as a desktop operating system. The interesting thing is that there is much evidence to the contrary that states that businesses that use Windows Vista actually have a lower TCO than those that use other desktop operating systems (including Windows XP). For example, a whitepaper published by Wipro and GCR Custom Research titled Reducing the TCO with Windows Vista states that the average cost savings vs. Windows XP for mobile notebooks deployed within an organization is $251 per notebook.
It's also the most secure operating system Microsoft has produced. Loss of data through theft, subversion or even accidental data loss is expensive and also poses potential costs associated with it including fines (in the case of privacy breaches) as well as loss of reputation. The Windows Vista One-Year Vulnerability Report shows "that researchers found and disclosed significantly fewer vulnerabilities in Windows Vista than either it predecessor product, Windows XP, or other operating systems such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Ubuntu, and Apple Mac OS X 10.4" (page 19 of the report).
Finally, with increasing costs associated to energy (and even if energy prices may be relaxing somewhat from all-time highs), technologies that reduce their energy footprint are certainly useful in reducing costs associated with IT. To that end, many people don't realize that Windows Vista's enhanced sleep mode features and smart use of power can save a surprising amount of money in the form of energy savings. A white paper from Microsoft outlines some of the potential savings and on page 6 of the report states that a typical Pentium IV running Windows Vista with a 17" LCD monitor can save $55.63 per year compared to the same PC running Windows XP.