IT's Leaner Lifestyle

Meticulous budgeting and economizing technologies have helped sculpt trim new IT outfits. Here's how IT will maintain its slimmer shape in 2011.

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"Even in this downturn, we're seeing a significant investment in technology," says Adam Noble, CIO at GAF Materials Corp. So are his CIO peers, he says. "They're not hiring, but their investments are going up."

Energy company Southern Co.'s generation business is contemplating virtualizing all of its servers and desktops, says CIO Marie Mouchet. "It's an option we're considering systemwide. We have application virtualization and desktop virtualization pilots under way. We have had a lease program for our desktops, which we rotate every few years. As they expire, we'll be evaluating moving to virtual desktops," she says.

As for new IT jobs, "we are not looking to hire additional people to meet needs," Mouchet says. Instead, the company plans to upsize and downsize using contractors.

But there are also organizations where investments in both technology and staff are at a standstill. Among them is the Tennessee Technology Center at Shelbyville, one of 27 such centers across the state that along with six universities and 44 community colleges make up Tennessee's higher education system.

"One of the biggest problems is that there isn't revenue flowing into the state, and one of the first places they look to cut is education. We're doing without 20% of the IT budget we had last year, and last year we had 10% less than the year before," says Steve Mallard, the center's IT director.

He says he's looking for any and all ways to keep costs down, including using more open-source software, bringing on student interns to work in IT, recycling hardware, and building 40% of the computers and virtually all of the servers in use at the center.

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