Making your small business's IT infrastructure more efficient can involve one of two things: you can try to run your network and systems for the cheapest price possible, or you can maximise the usage of those systems to wring every last drop of performance out of them.

It is not only about making sure the servers, storage and networking are up to scratch though; you also need to look at applications and processes.

Increase server utilisation

If your business uses a data centre or you have a server room, you can improve its efficiency by using virtualisation. This allows you to move many workloads onto fewer, more powerful servers.

Unnecessary old servers can be retired and you will be able to obtain advantages in flexibility, scalability and data centre automation.

Cut storage costs

The need to store data is growing and shows no sign of abating any time soon, and this will increase the expense of storing content.

Consolidating storage in a virtualised storage area network can allow firms to break away from server-attached storage. Then then speeds up backup, retrieval and archiving, because tasks don't compete for system resources with a server.

Storage virtualisation provides a way to combine all storage in the infrastructure into one centrally managed resource, which can lead to time and money savings.

Deduplication eliminates redundant data and can significantly reduce storage requirements – fewer disks are required and this can help to cut costs. It can also increase bandwidth efficiency and improve disaster recovery as there is less data to transfer. Backup and archive data usually includes a lot of duplicate data.

Reduce software costs

Efficiency can be improved and costs cut by identifying and eradicating unused or under-used software.

Firms often buy more software than they need so they can get volume licensing discounts, and to make sure they are licence-compliant. But they often end up paying for unnecessary software, support upgrades and asset management.

Organisations need to have in place a process for IT asset lifecycle management to ensure that software costs are at a bare minimum while maintaining compliance. A focus on software costs, workload analysis, negotiations and contracts can save more than 30% of the relevant spending.

Outsource IT tasks

In your organisation, is the IT team really making the best use of its time on tasks such as security or communications? It can be more efficient to outsource such tasks to a managed service provider.

Such providers will have capabilities that your company needs but may lack, and can ensure that routine but crucial tasks are done without you spending time or money cultivating that expertise in-house. Outsourcing also allows employees to focus on work related to the organisation's core competencies.

Create a long term plan

Replacing technology can disrupt the productivity of your workers. If you plan out your business objectives carefully and align technology to those objectives this will streamline your infrastructure and increase business performance.