Times are tough – this is a fact. We are in the midst of one of the worst recessions in decades, and no part of the world has been left unscathed. Global leaders were caught cold by the extent of the financial collapse and businesses across the globe felt the pinch almost immediately. In the technology sector, we’ve all been hit by the recession, but there are shoots of optimism on the horizon.
In Europe, the diverse nature of recovery has been extraordinary. In June, European industrial output declined by 0.6 percent despite predictions of moderate growth. Year on year, production plummeted by 17 percent. Retail sales fared even worse, with the decline topping 3.1 percent – the worst rating since 1995. Despite falls in production and sales, some European countries are pulling themselves clear of the recession. France, Germany and Sweden are showing signs of recovery far sooner than predicted, whereas the UK and Netherlands are in the mire. Political and financial leaders are raiding their idea armouries and instigating measures that are having mixed results, but no-one has a crystal ball and it’s impossible to tell when this will all be over.
Why am I harping on about the global recession? Well, as business leaders we are not helpless. We’re all looking at our bottom lines and analysing ways to improve our performance, but we need to pay attention to what make our companies tick and how to optimise efficiency to get us through these tough times - I’m talking about the IT infrastructure. You may think “of course Brocade’s VP EMEA would say that”, but consider this… every business transaction you make, every communication you send and even your entry to the office is probably managed by/run over the network. It’s the heart and lungs of your business and you may have ignored it in your efficiency drive. That’s foolish.
In the consumer world, the surging cost of food and oil is hitting retail sales and families are having to make cutbacks to survive. In the IT environment, the surging cost of oil is having a similar effect. In my last blog, I talked about how European businesses spend €4.22bn per year on data centre power alone and that half of IT leaders are under pressure to cut power-related OpEx. Additionally, IT departments are under greater scrutiny to do more with less and since the recession started, budgets have been cut by an average of 20 percent. Even in post-recession countries such as Germany, the budgets just aren’t there to continually invest so a more prudent and forward-looking approach to IT investment is needed.
So what do you do? Firstly, critically evaluate your existing network architecture (i.e. conduct a SWOT analysis) and ensure the solutions in place are best-of-breed and not only serve your goals today, but those of the company in the future. Secondly, analyse your OpEx and make sure that the power draw characteristics of the architecture adhere to your targets (i.e. can you afford to operate the equipment, or do you need more power efficient solutions?). Thirdly, think about what you would like to do in the future and assess whether the solutions in place will evolve with these requirements and you have the capacity to grow (i.e. should you virtualise physical servers to improve performance and free server room space for future deployments?).
Companies, such as Insight Investment, have already woken up to this thinking. Part of the HBoS Group, Insight Investment spent a long time evaluating its infrastructure and identified weaknesses that needed shoring up. It chose to standardise on a Brocade network (core-edge IP network and data centre environment) and has already seen the benefits – a reduction in batch back-up times of 30 percent, reduced operational costs, simplified management and a virtualised environment that has freed up half of its server room space all speak volumes. In tough times, these are the steps that need to be taken to help ensure optimal efficiency and performance.
Many other organisations have reaped the benefits of Brocade’s end-to-end capabilities, and with the economy biting us at every step, and optimisation the key phrase in boardrooms across the globe, I see numerous other companies calling Brocade. This isn’t rocket science, it’s common sense, so I expect your call….