[ For a deeper look at virtualization, peruse InfoWorld's Virtualization Topic Center. ]
But don't expect a quick budget fix from going virtual, warns Apptio's Gupta. "Trying to adopt a virtual environment isn't the easiest thing," he says. "You have to invest more up front, and the return happens over a longer period of time. You may end up spending more for the first two years dealing with people and server issues, software licenses, and managing the environment. When employed as a medium- to long-term strategy, though, it is saving our customers money."
8. Clean out cobwebbed apps
The good news? Tight budgets are an opportunity to get rid of redundant or legacy apps that users still cling to but you can't afford to support anymore, notes Apptio's Gupta.
Gupta's first piece of advice for cost-cutting IT managers is to "find no longer used or rarely used applications that are still taking up infrastructure, support staff, license fees, and administrative fees. Turn them off, recoup the licensing costs, and take that out of the budget."
"One place IT has always struggled has been in application rationalization," adds Forsythe Solutions' Wolke. "How many different payroll or CRM systems do you have? In reality, very little gets turned off. But economic environments like this one often push business leaders to put their foot down and say, 'We don't care if you do like this application, it's going away.' It's really an opportunity to retire expensive hardware, free up real estate in your datacenter, and not have to keep certain skill sets in house anymore."
9. Revoke unused licenses
Now is the time to weed out the applications you're paying for but no one is really using, says Rathin Sinha, CMO of NaviSite, a hosting and application management provider.
"Do you have a newsletter generation system, but a newsletter hasn't gone out in six months?" he says. "Cancel the subscription. Have you bought 50 licenses of a software app but only 10 are being used? Cut back."
10. Join the cloud crowd
Cloud computing can provide the benefits of a fully powered datacenter at a fraction of the cost. But like virtualization, it may not the best call for every application or enterprises with heavy compliance or security requirements.
"I think there are very real opportunities to save money leveraging the cloud, but it's not a black-and-white argument," says Gupta. "If you're a financial services company or one of the Fortune 100, you'll need to take a hard look at the data security, reliability, and availability of the cloud."
If you do decide to move into the cloud, start with underutilized, high-cost IT environments, suggests Ian Knox, director of product management for Skytap, a provider of cloud-based virtual labs. "Dynamic environments like application development and testing are ideal candidates to migrate to the cloud, as capacity and expense easily scale up and down based on demand."
Solstice Consulting's Schwan says his firm uses cloud computing to mirror clients' environments for software testing at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions.