Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Value for Money

One of the things we've been doing over the last few days is writing our value for money report - part of a series of reports produced for the University to show how we're achieving value for money, pointing out areas where we could do it better, and looking at future strategies. We have some excellent examples from CiCS, especially around infrastructure, voice and data and printing.

We've expanded our local cloud server and storage infrastructure making use of aggregation, resource sharing, standardisation and thin provisioning. This means we only grow capacity when it is really needed. We make the best use of resources by sharing - we supply capacity that meets peak demand, but not all peaks are at the same time. It also means we can clone test systems from live data ensuring that upgrades have a good chance of success with minimal storage overhead. We can also snapshot systems prior to upgrades etc quickly reverting if things go wrong.  This usually answers my main question at our weekly CAB (Change Advisory Board) which is "what happens if it all goes horribly wrong?" Usual answer - we'll have taken a snapshot so we revert. I have to admit that the "we" in the above paragraph definitely doesn't include me - some much cleverer people than that do it all.
Last year we had 750 virtual servers in production and development, this year we have 1063.

The way in which the network is being designed and deployed is also relevant to VfM.  Wherever possible we install an appropriate amount of outlets that meets the users needs (not too many, not too few) and only patch those that are actually being used. This in turn means that we can install fewer switches than under the previous ‘standard’ model making savings on both capital and operational spend.
We’re also revisiting older deployments and retro-fitting the ‘only patch used ports’ model, enabling us to reduce the amount of kit needed in those properties (making operational savings there), with recovered kit then being deployed in other areas (making capital savings on those projects)
Continued roll-out of IP Telephony and underlying infrastructure provides better/easier access to voice services for users whilst reducing the amount of network equipment needed to provide it.

My final example, from many more listed in the report, is the My Sustainable Print Service which went live in April 2014; the service was made available to all Staff and PGT and the Students Union. Student print equipment was replaced in the Information Commons as part of this agreement improving quality and functionality. The recurrent annual saving for the university is £1.4M; 19 tonnes of carbon saved, reduced from 24T to 5T. A new fleet of approx 555 new multifunctional print, copy, scan devices has been installed on campus. The legacy fleet has been removed and so far totals 1500 devices which have gone to a Social Enterprise; toner cartridges have been removed and/or sold with an approx value to date of £5k.

As user expecttions increase and  IT becomes even more ubiquitous and critical, we will keep exploring ways of making our services more efficient and demonstrating value for money.

No comments: