Thursday, July 24, 2008

As IT Budgets Shrink CIOs Look For Ways to Do More With Less

TechColumbus TechWeek article by Tricia Strahler

According to IDC, a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services and events for the IT industry, IT budgets will see only half the growth in 2008 that they did in 2007, down from 8 percent growth to just around 4 percent. As a result, CIOs are becoming very bearish about their ability to fund projects and are working with multiple budgets to cover a variety of scenarios.

One example of this is the recent activity at TechColumbus’ Platform Lab, which in June experienced its busiest month since its 2002 opening.
Platform Lab is the nation’s only non-profit IT testing and training facility, and as a result can provide a variety of IT testing services at a fraction of traditional providers. Offering services from load and stress testing to strategy and concept validation, Platform Lab has helped companies ranging from retail giant to Cardinal Health to smaller companies and start-ups effectively reduce costs and grow their online presence. Such testing allows IT departments of these organizations the ability to test an idea or strategy in a lab setting before incurring the costs of launching an unvetted and potentially ill-fated strategy.

Funded through a State of Ohio Third Frontier grant, Platform Lab was established to help Ohio businesses be more competitive. Platform Lab offers Internet access exclusively for testing purposes through Ohio’s, which can access the Internet at speeds as high as 10 gigabits.
Through Platform Lab, organizations can access bandwidth at a fraction of the cost of traditional ISPs and at speeds which most could not match. According to Steve Gruetter, director of Platform Lab, flexibility is one of the key reasons that Platform Lab can provide the most cost-effective testing solutions. Rather than provide rigid pricing structures that require organizations to purchase bandwidth for a minimum of 30 days and at the level of highest projected usage, Platform Lab offers per day and per megabit pricing.

Although IT budgets are shrinking, IDC reports that cuts are less likely in security and compliance. In this area Platform Lab has helped many of Central Ohio’s leading healthcare systems establish and maintain compliance to the 2005 HIPAA regulations. HIPAA requires hospitals to establish and annually test disaster recovery plans. Many of the leading healthcare systems in the region have made use of Platform Lab to validate and document the effectiveness of their plans.

“Platform Lab serves as an important strategic business partner with us,” said Aaron Zuber, business continuity and disaster recovery coordinator for Ohio Health. “We have a very diverse range of applications and platforms and because of their pricing structure and flexibility, we are able to test across these platforms in a manner that we would otherwise be unable to afford.”

As IT budgets dwindle, two things seem clear - IT leaders are looking to do more with less and the importance of testing before investing increases as a way to manage risk.


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