Midyear IT savings reported to University Senate

January 25, 2011

At the midpoint of the 2010-11 fiscal year, Purdue's information technology areas are well under way to meeting their target of returning $5 million to the University's general fund.

Gerry McCartney, vice president for information technology, chief information officer, and the Olga Oesterle England Professor of Information Technology, told members of the University Senate on Monday (Jan. 24) that so far the IT areas have identified $4.7 million to return to the University general fund.

"With what we've been able to accomplish so far, I am confident we'll achieve our $5 million goal by the end of the fiscal year," McCartney said.

Among the IT areas with the most savings were ITaP with $3,358,056 in savings, the University Executive Offices with $507,228 saved, and the College of Liberal Arts with $166,119 saved. A full listing of savings by department can be found in McCartney's PowerPoint presentation, which is available at www.purdue.edu/cio.
According to McCartney, much more can be done.

"Many times we overspend due to 'local optimization,' which is another way of saying we do what's most convenient at the time, but not best for the institution," he said. "We want to continue to provide choice to the services and goods that make a difference to our ability to perform as an organization, but unconstrained choice is not sustainable."

One example of local optimization occurred when students who were in a hurry would print their papers to every printer in a computer lab so they could grab the first one that printed and leave the rest to be discarded. This practice has been curtailed, however, since print quotas were introduced. Now the student labs print an average of 58,000 pages per day, instead of the more than 140,000 that were printed per day before.

McCartney also mentioned the savings that are possible from the successful SMARTComputing buying program and increases in those savings from the more ambitious strategic sourcing program, which has replaced it.

"We looked at IT purchases made outside of the SMARTComputing program and found instances where departments made outside purchases of equipment with identical brand and part numbers to what is offered through SMARTComputing," he said. "In 2009 this cost the University, and those departments, an additional $60,000."

In addition, McCartney said local optimization is an obstacle to additional savings.

"When I arrived as CIO there were 44 e-mail systems that required an IT staff members' time to operate. We've reduced that number to 23, but our goal is to get the number of e-mail servers down to half a dozen or so in the coming year," McCartney said.

A similar consolidation effort is aimed at datacenters.

Currently there are 67 datacenters (cooled facilities that house computers and servers) on the West Lafayette campus, including five that are operated by ITaP. Through a technology known as virtualization, four of those facilities (in Smith Hall, Lilly Hall, Stewart Center and the Service Building) have been consolidated into two datacenters over the last six months.
Consolidating those machine rooms and virtualizing the servers has saved the University $157,000 per year in ongoing costs, primarily by reducing energy costs of the required power and cooling. Virtualizing the servers had additional benefits of making more space available and improving reliability and security.  

"There remain many similar savings opportunities in the other 60-plus centers," McCartney said.

McCartney's presentation slides can be downloaded from the University CIO website at www.purdue.edu/cio.