What to consider when costing an IT project!

Any project has a budget associated with it. The budget may or may not be flexible. Although the DBA executing a backup and restore for one of the applications may not be concerned about the cost of consolidation, the lead who is part of the planning must be aware of the impact that decisions play into the cost of not only the project, but also the ownership of the architecture going forward.
The budget of the actual consolidation project is based on the following factors:
• Software and licensing
Besides ensuring that the required licenses for things such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database, E-Business Suite and any applications are made based on the target consolidation platform, additional tools may need to be purchased to assist with the consolidation. These costs must be in the budget for consolidation, because the goal is to do it in the fastest, safest way possible. For example, a company has hundreds of DTS packages, some complex. Assuming the target platform is SQL Server 2008, although there is a command line utility to run the DTS packages, the best thing to do is to convert them into something that will work better with SQL Server 2008 – an SSIS package. However, the cost in terms of time to complete that task can be measured in possibly man-months or years. A company named Pragmatic Works makes a program called DTS xChange to convert DTS packages (even complex ones) to SSIS. While the software will cost money, and it may not convert everything, if it converts 70 – 80% with no manual intervention, its cost is cheaper than hiring an army of consultants. Some work, whether done by consultants or experts in-house, may need to be done on the remaining 20 – 30%, but the workload is now reasonable and can be done to meet the consolidation timeframes.
• Hardware
Consolidation may require the purchase of new hardware; it should not be assumed that all existing hardware will be reused. How much and what kind of hardware that will be needed can only be determined after the data is analysed during the discovery and analysis process.
• Staff augmentation
The resources who are assigned to the consolidation project may have other responsibilities, so it may be necessary to augment the staff to ensure that the project keeps going even if someone gets pulled away to deal with some current production issues. Sometimes the right expertise (especially when it comes to third-party applications and their implementations) may no longer exist within the company. Within the budget, some money should be allocated to staff augmentation. How large this amount is will be is determined by how confident the company is in their resources. Hire where needed. A good example is expertise in SQL Server 2008: Assuming that SQL Server 2008 is the desired platform to be used, bringing a consultant in-house who can not only assist in all phases of the consolidation, but also mentor the staff so they can administer it afterwards may be a worthwhile use of a portion of the budget.
From an on-going cost perspective, a baseline cost of the environment must be documented and analysed, if the baseline cost is not known already. The best time to do this is while you are gathering information to make consolidation decisions. The reason is that the business will want to realise the costs spent on consolidation, and show the ROI. The ROI should be achieved in a fairly short amount of time – on average 1- 3 years – otherwise the end may not justify the means. For example, it is easy to measure the electricity costs associated with servers, either through the overall bill to the data centre

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