Trying to make savings in a lean data centre environment might seem like a hard task but there are a number of steps IT managers can take to reduce spend further, says analyst firm Gartner.

Gartner managing vice-president, Michele Caminos, told delegates at the firm's Infrastructure, Operations and Data Centre Summit in Sydney that research conducted by Gartner in Australia found 60 per cent of IT budgets are spent on infrastructure and operations.

Caminos then shared nine tips the company has put together for organisations looking to reduce costs while improving efficiency.

1: Re-examine networking costs

"People have said to us that they are spending 18 per cent of the IT budget on networking costs," Caminos said. "If you break the networking costs down it equates to 45 per cent being spent on telecom services, 35 per cent spent on personnel and 15 per cent going on hardware/software."

Caminos advised IT managers to renegotiate telecommunications contracts as there were cases where individual business units had their own contract with a provider. According to Caminos, companies could get a telecommunications volume discount by creating a corporate master contract.

2: Consolidation

Server consolidation could bring organisations between 15 to 20 per cent cost savings. However, these savings depended on how many servers the company has.

"We have to increase utilisation rates on server devices otherwise we are going to have a growing storage environment over the next five years," Caminos said. "Newer technologies such as thin provisioning and storage virtualization can enable companies to save up to 80 per cent utilisation rates in servers."

Caminos added that having one centralised data centre would bring real estate and rental cost savings. "A consolidated data centre could mean an annual cost of $200,000 instead of $510,000 or more," she said.

3: Virtualisation

While virtualisation is something that most businesses have undergone in Australia, Gartner research found that 90 per cent of virtual machines are only running at 25 per cent utilisation.

"We've gone from a physical sprawl to a virtual sprawl. For example, x86 servers still consume 60 per cent of server power even when they are idle," Caminos said. "We need to look at the virtual machine environment and drive that up higher."

4: Streamline IT operations

According to Caminos, this was a controversial step as it meant reducing IT staff in the data centre, using process automation tools and legacy outsourcing.

"As we go through streamlining operations, there is going to be some redundancy of IT personnel. What we have found is that 41 per cent of IT spend is on people," Caminos said.

"Automated staff process can achieve 6 per cent cost saving and mean improved process efficiencies, fewer errors made in day to day processes and greater first contact resolution."

5: Reduce power and cooling needs

"Companies should modularise data centre design, plan for increased rack density, consider slab versus raised floor and implement energy monitoring tools," Caminos said.

6: Contain storage growth

According to Caminos, managing Big Data has become an issue in Australia. "IT managers are wondering how you measure and keep track of Big Data. Thin provisioning and virtualization can give you utilisation rates of up to 80 per cent," she said.

7: Enhance IT asset management

To save money here, Caminos suggested reducing server hardware refresh cycle times and increasing virtualization "Server performance per kilowatt gains and space saved can justify the price," she said.

8: Push down IT support

Implementing self-service portals so staff can solve IT issues themselves would help reduce the need for IT support and free up staff to work on other problems, Caminos said.

9: Defer noncritical key initiatives

"We see businesses trying to move forward with everything on the list and they need to prioritise," Caminos said. "The areas they should focus on is centralised IT, an alternative delivery model and implementation of staff productivity."