Welcome to the new series, Seven Ways From Sunday, that replaces the Crystal Ball Sunday Series. This new series focuses on a single aspect of IT management from an "in the trenches" point-of-view. Being in list format, it will help you, the busy professional, quickly absorb and assess necessary information.

In this introductory entry, I examine reducing costs--a theme to which I'll return repeatedly in my posts.

1. Linux - It should be obvious from the title of my blog that Linux is the primary focus here but it bears repeating. Use Linux to reduce your costs. This free operating system is powerful, less hardware hungry, and actively developed and continuously updated and patched.

2. Virtualization - Using virtual machines (VMs), reduces costs in hardware, power, cooling, and break/fix issues related to hardware. Pound for pound, virtualization shows the greatest savings of any other technological change you can make to your infrastructure. The big players in this field: VMware, Citrix, Sun, and Microsoft.

3. Open Source Applications - Office Suites, Accounting programs, High-end Graphics programs, and much more are available as either free open source or open source format. (Not all open source programs are free but all include the program's source code). These days you have a choice and oftentimes the choice is a free, well-maintained, and Microsoft-compatible application that offers freedom from licensing prison. The most notable among these is OpenOffice.org the world-class Office Suite that compares and competes favorably with Microsoft Office.

4. Thin Client Desktops - If you want to save some major money, you'll switch from traditional "heavy" desktop computers and switch to some form of thin client solution. Whether you use Terminal Services, Web-based Desktops, or fully virtualized Desktop systems, you'll experience a huge financial relief in doing so. Your biggest decrease in costs from using a non-traditional Desktop is in support costs. You won't have the same break/fix problems related to viruses, spyware, hardware failures, or lost time from those computer "experts" who attempt to "enhance" or fix their own systems.

5. Paperless Office - How much do you spend on paper, toner or ink, printer repair, and printer maintenance per year? Don't spend it any more. Go paperless. It's easy. Don't print out everything. Archive it to DVD, external disk, network systems that are backed up, use portable document formatted (PDF) files, a network fax system, and scan all of your old documents and save them electronically.

6. Blade Servers - If you run a data center of any size (100+) physical systems, you can save significant expense by switching to Blade Server technology. Blades take up less space which is often at a premium in Data Centers, use less power, require less cooling, and have consolidated and centralized management. Blades aren't right for everyone as they do require a major up front financial outlay to make the switch. Their modular format make them easy to repair, replace, and expand. The major players in this field are Dell, HP, IBM, and Sun. They can show you the savings numbers and costs associated with your switch to Blades.

7. Green Technology - Whether or not you're into the "green" movement that's sweeping the world in the face of global climate change, you'll have to admit that using power-saving devices is to your own financial advantage. Most computers, monitors, laptops, printers, and other computer-related devices have power-saving modes--use them. Don't disable the power-saving modes. Your electronics run cooler, consume less power, and will enjoy a longer lifetime under the lower power conditions than in standard consumptive mode.

I hope you enjoy this new series. Please talk back and let me know. If you, or the company you work for, are doing something to save money, let me know.