"You're not going to replace switches, but you can replace VPN concentrators and routers with white boxes using true OSS [open source software] and commercialized OSS solutions," Venezia explains, adding that IT shops can find significant savings buying hardware on eBay -- if they're armed with the know-how to support the devices themselves.
An ancillary approach Venezia suggests for those companies that have a couple dozen Cisco switches and corresponding SmartNet support is to buy an extra switch, set it on a shelf, then cancel those support subscriptions. "If one fails, replace it with the spare, and buy another spare," Venezia continues. "Instead of buying new firewalls, check out the plethora of extremely solid OSS firewalls. There might be a little bit of a learning curve, but a little elbow grease goes a long way."
4. Hold off on Windows Vista
Economic downturn or not, many enterprise IT shops are already delaying Windows Vista adoption -- and an uncertain future makes pushing back the new OS all the more alluring.
According to a July report from Forrester Research, fewer than 1 in 11 PCs within large enterprise are actually running Windows Vista, so it follows that of the 50,000 enterprise customers surveyed, 87.1 percent were still running XP as of June's end.
Countless well-documented reasons to stick with Windows XP exist. Chief among those: Vista's lack of compelling value and poor performance, coupled with the resurgence of Windows XP, thanks to years of updates and patches that make XP more stable and secure than Vista. Plus, most enterprises need to replace their PCs to be able to run Vista, making the upgrade cost very high.
"We're holding off on Vista, but it's not just because of the economy," Cabela's Crowe explains. Other companies, however, are finding the current economic turmoil reason enough to delay a new operating system deployment. "In tight times, I can see making an argument to not migrate to Windows Vista and, instead, saving the short-term investment." Capgemini's Rhody said.
Acknowledging the throngs of customers that still prefer Windows XP, Microsoft last week extended the XP "downgrade" option for another six months. Of course, IT will still have to pony up for a copy of Vista that is then replaced with XP, but the good news is that users can obtain Windows XP that way until July 31, 2009. This marks Microsoft's third extension of XP's availability.