CXO

10 ways to repurpose your IT investments

There could be a surprising amount of utility in some of your legacy IT assets. These tips will help you extend the value of aging hardware, reusable code, and even old reports.

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Image: iStockphoto.com/yogesh_more

Ready to throw out your old servers, old software, and old storage? Consider these 10 ideas to keep those IT assets working for you.

1: Donate old equipment to a school or a charity

Nonprofit and not-for profit organizations are always looking for usable computer equipment. Donate what you no longer use, and your company will get a write-off.

2: Use slower hard drives for cold storage archiving

With the rapid accumulation of data being driven by big data and the Internet of Things (IoT), this is a great time to start a cold storage strategy by redeploying slow and aging hard drives to handle backroom data archiving. These hard drives (and disks) don't need to be state of the art. They just need to work.

3: Use old servers for testing and training

How many times have you scrambled to come up with enough test servers and desktops for app testing and training? Older servers and desktop units are perfect for that purpose. As long as they can run new apps and allow end users to kick the tires on them—or to take training on new apps and systems—those old servers will get the job done.

4: Recycle desktops and laptops to occasional and casual system users

In any organization, there are always "power users" who require expensive and sophisticated desktops and laptops. But as these assets begin to enter their third year of use, it might be time to cycle them over to more casual or occasional computer users. In this way, a data analyst can use the latest and greatest machine, while a shipping clerk receives a perfectly useable machine for that position. The company wins in either case, because it keeps its assets working.

5: Find more "standard" code you can place into your reusable code routine libraries

Most sites have common date/field edits and system resource invocation routines in their source code libraries—but beyond this, there is a layer of highly reusable and repeatable software that supports common business processes that goes unleveraged. Process repeatability in software is an area that many IT departments overlook for their code libraries, yet many of these coded processes offer uniformity and repeatability that can improve corporate business processes and also save time for developers.

6: Boilerplate repeatable system operations, like virtual operating systems deployment

There are several technologies available today that enable IT to rapidly script and deploy new instances of virtual operating systems, yet many sites still opt to do this process manually. If these manual scripts are added to the common code library and reused as templates, it saves programming time because programmers have less to code from scratch.

7: Use old servers for proxy servers on networks

Proxy servers don't need to be lavish or robust—as long as they can "fake" incoming network traffic into believing that they are the access point to the network, and trap any malware or viruses in the process.

8: Create a library of end user macros for office applications

Almost every end business area has a power user who is able to develop office software macros in word processing, spreadsheet and small database applications. These macros automate and embellish office applications. However, few companies exploit these office macros. They should and they can—by cataloguing the different macros that business areas have developed and placing them into a common library that users throughout the company can use.

9: Hang onto your tape drives

We already talked about slow-moving hard drives/disk for archive storage, but tape drives (and tape) also play an important role in this area. If you've got aging tape resources (and most sites do), reuse them. They are cheap, great for backups and archiving, and you will find it hard to replace tape with any other storage medium that will perform your archiving for you more economically.

10: Renovate seldom used reports

The 80/20 rule applies to all of the ad hoc and cyclical reports that companies have developed over the years. In other worlds 20% of reports developed internally are actively used, while the other 80 percent sit on the shelf. Shelfware is expensive to maintain. While the first impulse might be to jettison any report that hasn't been used in over three years, a better impulse might be to reexamine these mothballed reports to see if there are some "hidden gems" among them that the company could be exploiting.

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Other ideas?

How have you extended the life of your equipment or found new uses for legacy IT assets? Share your experiences and suggestions with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Mary Shacklett

Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President o...

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