Has your IT budget just taken a big hit for 2009? Many have. These desperate times call for desperate measures but don't worry these measures aren't nearly so desperate and they just might help you fix that ailing IT budget. All you need is a little creative thinking and some good people behind you--and these 5 things (in order of importance).

1. Linux - No surprise here since this is a Linux-oriented blog. Linux makes sense for those tightening those budgetary belts since it's free, robust, and stable. You can't go wrong choosing Linux for your IT infrastructure. It handles any job thrown at it and will significantly lower your IT bill.

2. Virtualization - Another of my favorite rants: Virtualization. The less hardware you have to support, the better. Virtualization diminishes your power consumption, cooling needs, and hardware refresh issues. And, if you use operating system level (OS-level) virtualization, you have nothing else to buy and you'll enjoy the best input/output (I/O) performance available for any type of virtualization.

3. Automation - The 4 syllable bane of every system administrator: Automation. Automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks makes good business sense and frees you up for higher level accomplishments. Don't fear automation; embrace it. Automate using shell scripts (because obviously you're using Linux or Unix), perl, python, php, or some other higher-level language. Just about anything you do at the command line can be automated.

4. Open Source Applications - Before you spend thousands on some proprietary application that locks you in to a heavy support contract, head over to Sourceforge and search for the ultimate application. You'll find some real winners there and often for a small donation, you can get the programmers to make changes for you or do them yourself--after all, you do have the source code.

5. Off-Site Service Hosting - You read it correctly--off-site service hosting. It could save you a bundle over "doing it yourself." Why do you need to host your own DNS, websites, mail, or other applications? Do you have some neurotic need to house your own applications, mail, etc.? Does proximity to your files give you some sort of added assurance or warm feeling? Get real and get hosted. Save yourself some time, money, and headaches.

You won't save money buying expensive licenses, "seats," or new hardware. You can save money by using Linux, virtualizing your services, automating tasks, using free software, and by using hosted services. Keep that budget under control and use it wisely.

How are you saving money and working within your own smaller budget? Talk back and let me know.