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IT-Related Cost Savings

The University’s goal is to realize efficiencies in academic and central administration that enable the release of increased resources toward teaching, research, and the student experience. OIT contributed to this effort through the following IT-related cost savings initiatives.

OIT computing clusters
Desktop computer programs
IT infrastructure consolidation
Mobile communication devices

Video conferencing and collaboration tools
Web development services
Technology consulting services
OIT training services

OIT computing clusters

In support of the initiative to lower the operational costs of the OIT computing clusters, OIT set a goal to reduce the number of cluster computers by 33% (92 computers) within a two-year time frame.

In FY10, OIT decommissioned 59 computers, or 21% of the OIT cluster computers. Since 50 of these computers had reached the end of their 3-year warranty period, no computer replacements were necessary, saving more than $50,000 in previously typical replacement costs.

The goal for FY11 is to further reduce the number of cluster computers by 33 machines in order to meet the overall goal of a 33% reduction in cluster computers. Achieving this goal will bring the total number of cluster computers to 190 machines from 282 and will result in additional ongoing savings.

Desktop computer programs

The computers in the administrative desktop (DeSC) and faculty computer (FCP) programs provide a standard hardware and software desktop environment that offers streamlined costs associated with software installation, computing support, system administration, and software licensing. Through hardware and software standardization, the University is better positioned to negotiate lower pricing and maintenance fees, and computing support staff are better able to provide the highest level, and most efficient, assistance to users.

To achieve cost savings in the area of desktop computers, the replacement cycles for computers in the DeSC program have been increased from four to five years. Standard computer packages have also been reconfigured and renegotiated, which has lowered the average cost per computer by approximately 20%.

To support the University’s sustainability goals and realize energy cost savings, DeSC computers now include an energy-efficient power supply that reduces the energy use of new computers by 40% over previous DeSC computers.

IT infrastructure consolidation

Consolidation of IT services and technologies provides an opportunity for savings through reduced hardware costs and licensing fees and efficiencies gained from managing a single, standard technology.

Over the last two years, OIT has collaborated with departments to transition departmental IT servers and services to the central data center and, as a result, realize cost savings. In all, OIT has virtualized 291 servers in the past two years. As a specific example, the Facilities department took advantage of the new virtual server service and was able to retire 22 departmental servers. The new virtual servers run at no cost to the Facilities department and result in a significant annual hardware and software cost savings.

Across the 291 servers virtualized by OIT over the last two years, 1.4 million kilowatt-hours of power are now saved annually, enough to continuously power a laptop computer for each member of the class of 2014. This energy savings equates to over $120,000/year.

Mobile communication devices

OIT collaborated with the Office of Finance and Treasury to develop guidelines and procedures for transitioning all University-funded mobile devices to University corporate plans. Corporate monthly plans are the most cost-effective and allow for additional discounts, such as “voice minute pooling,” across all devices.

OIT also offers quarterly plan analysis to help departments identify areas where additional cost savings can be achieved and provides tips for managing departmental mobile communication devices.

With established guidelines in place (published online at, OIT and the Office of Finance and Treasury will work to transition all University-funded mobile devices to University corporate plans during FY11.

Video conferencing and collaboration tools

OIT continues to facilitate the use of video-conferencing and collaboration technology to reduce the need for traveling to remote locations. This past year, OIT licensed iLinc as the University’s new web-conferencing software. iLinc enables members of the University community to host, and participate in, online meetings and webinars from their computers. OIT was also able to reassign one staff member so that there are now two FTE’s available to support collaboration software and desktop video-conferencing. As a result of these changes, we anticipate that the use of collaboration and conferencing software will increase significantly in the coming year.

Compared to its predecessor, iLinc includes more robust features and offers an annual cost savings of $12,000.

Web development services

OIT continues to promote awareness of the cost savings that can be realized by using the University’s Roxen content management system and in-house website development services. At the same time, OIT has been enhancing the Roxen features available for departmental websites. OIT’s Web Development Services (WDS) group has developed tools and techniques that have allowed for a faster overall website development process and helped to reduce the wait time for services. In FY08, there was a three-year backlog of departmental requests for Roxen websites. Today, the wait time for departments requesting web development services averages less than three months, during which time departments can be gathering information needed for the initial planning and design phases.

During FY10, WDS created 125 new websites, bringing the total number of Roxen sites on campus to 314 sites. 52 of these sites were created using templates developed by OIT and, as a result, came at no cost to the departments; 73 were custom sites requiring programming by WDS.

The cost per custom website ranged from $3,000 to $28,000, with the average cost being approximately $4,500. Given that website development by outside vendors can cost $100,000 or more per site, this represents a significant cost-savings to the University.

Technology consulting services

In FY09, OIT formed a new group, Technology Consulting Services (TCS), to help departments identify IT products and services to meet their needs and find ways to use technology to operate more efficiently.

In FY10, TCS was involved in 40 engagements of medium, to high, complexity. Among these, the group:

  • Served as advisers to the residential colleges on the development of an “RSVP” tool that resulted in a reduction in staff time required to handle event-related information.
  • Advised the Bridged Year Program on the use of online collaboration tools to cost-effectively serve Bridge Year students and create a sense of community.
  • Advised the Office of Audit and Compliance and the Office of the Vice President on the use of online collaboration tools to reduce printing and enhance security for the work of Board of Trustees committees.
  • Worked with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory to develop business-process-mapping capabilities to address process-related issues, thus eliminating their need to invest in outside consulting services.
  • Advised several departments on the University-provided technologies for information storage and collaboration to replace costly paper-based processes.

OIT training services

Recognizing the importance of employee skills development in the use of business applications and productivity software, OIT continues to provide a full curriculum of no-fee training opportunities to all University staff.

During FY10, OIT provided 348 instructor-led classes to 2,348 staff members. Using a conservative average for comparable outside training costs of $200 per person, this translates to a net University savings of nearly $325,000.

New Business Technology Certificate Program

In FY10, the Business Technology Certificate Program (BTCP) was added to the OIT training curriculum. This no-fee program provides a skills-development opportunity for support staff to learn the effective use of technology in better providing business support.

The BTCP credential would cost approximately $10,000 per student if taken publicly.

The Employee Learning Center

The University’s Employee Learning Center is a shared resource managed by OIT that has become the enterprise-wide training management system used to publicize, register for, and track campus training offerings on campus. To date, 12 departments, including OIT, share this resource.

New classes added to OIT training offerings

In an effort to generate cost savings achieved through in-house training offerings, the following classes were added to the OIT training curriculum in FY10:

  • Roxen - the Roxen curriculum was expanded to provide more comprehensive training in the skills needed to develop and maintain departmental websites, and includes a new quick reference card.
  • SharePoint - As SharePoint has become the premier collaboration tool on campus, demand for training and consulting services has increased. OIT now offers more comprehensive support to departments in the use of SharePoint. In addition to general and department-specific SharePoint training, OIT also works with departments to review needs and provide guidance in the design and use of SharePoint sites.
  • Adobe Acrobat - With the emphasis to move paper-based processes to online methods, there is an increasing need for the knowledge and skills required to develop online forms. To support this need, OIT added Adobe Acrobat training, delivered by an outside, Adobe product-certified trainer, to class offerings.