Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Money saving decisions

I have wrote previously about the difficult financial position educational institutions are now finding themselves in. I have also mentioned the savings in energy costs with our move to virtualizing most of our servers but I would just like to mention what else we are doing to save money.

This year the students email moved over to Google giving them much more storage space and less data for us to have to store. An added bonus is they also get a free calendar which they did not have before. We are considering implementing this for staff too as we currently pay a large annual fee for the Oracle calendar staff use.

A problem we have experienced since moving student email has been spam. Google does a great job of stopping students seeing any spam but we are now unable to prevent them from sending it when their accounts have been compromised. We have seen an increase in phishing attempts originating with the Google email accounts and whereas before we would stop them being sent in the first place we now have to react to them coming in.

Overall though, the benefits outweighed the negatives as we didn't need to look after servers, backups and the infrastructure around them.

We have also purchased LogMeIn Rescue to hopefully reduce the time taken to fix faults as well as traveling costs. This version of LogMeIn supports PCs, Macs and smartphones.

There are people higher up who are looking at using Google Apps for staff as a way to save money. They are also looking into other open source software for document management and the new portal.

In the future there may be more data stored in the cloud than there is currently and outsourcing is on the agenda as an avenue to explore. Obviously the strictest data protection rules must apply.

In my own area we are implementing softphones for making calls using your PC and have purchased speech recognition software for the switchboard meaning members of our team do not have to cover and answer the phones, instead an Automated Attendant deals with the caller. Putting them through to who they require. As a result we are free to fix faults and make network changes/improvements.

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