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5 simple tools to help count the cost of IT

Putting a price on business IT assets is far from a trivial undertaking. If you want to predict the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a new product or service, you need to think about a wide range of direct and indirect expenses: hardware and software, installation and maintenance, power and cooling, potential downtime, end user training, and so on. As such, making even a simple purchase – a couple of licences for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product, for example – can involve a lot of number-crunching for IT managers who can’t afford to loosen their purse strings or sleepwalk into a mess of hidden costs. Luckily, that’s not necessarily a reason to break out the spreadsheets every time you need to make a forecast or check if there’s scope to save cash on your next infrastructure upgrade. There are plenty of ready-made cost calculators on the internet, available for free to those who know where to look. Here are five of our favourites.

SaaS TCO Calculator

Buying a SaaS product is very different to paying for software in the traditional sense, with the latter tending to involve one-off licence fees rather than subscriptions, greater overheads in terms of setup and maintenance, and potentially demanding their own dedicated hardware. The Software Advice TCO Calculator allows users to make a side-by-side comparison of SaaS and on-premise software in terms of cost, taking into account a vast array of factors like the terms of their respective licences, their life expectancy, and any support and training that may be required. It also provides a useful visualisation of cost over time.

Data Center Capital Cost Calculator

Calculating the cost of data centre buildout is notoriously difficult. Not only do you have to think about hardware, power and cooling, but also capacity, redundancy and life expectancy. The Schneider Electric Data Center Capital Cost Calculator is a suitably sophisticated tool for this demanding discipline, allowing users to dig down as far as the local cost of labour and parts in their data centre’s host country.

The Cloud Calculator

One of the big questions for most IT managers at the moment is whether their data would be better off hosted on-premise or in the cloud, or else in a mixture of the two. The Cloud Calculator, launched by industry stalwarts Expedient and Intel in 2013, allows users to check the cost of cloud infrastructure against an in-house data centre. There’s also a tool to compare the price of a colocation service with on-premise rackspace, as well as calculators for file transfer times, disk-based backup and RAID storage requirements.

Downtime Cost Calculator

How much would a prolonged period of data centre downtime cost your business? It’s not an easy question to answer, because the indirect costs are so diverse: you might lose sales, sure, but there could also be hours of employee productivity, mission-critical data and your company’s reputation headed down the pan. Storagepipe’s Downtime Cost Calculator may not account for all of these factors, but it’s still a good starting point for thinking about how the losses associated with outages can quickly spiral out of control – not least because it shows them ascending second by second. To determine the level of availability you can realistically expect from your data centre, another useful tool is Uptime.is.

Backup Capacity Calculator

The Backup Capacity Calculator from WintelGuy is a phenomenally well-equipped tool for checking how much storage space you’ll need to carry out a backup plan that meets the needs of your business. Adjustable metrics include the size of your core dataset, the percentage change between backups, and even your expected compression and de-duplication ratios. It’s never easy to know exactly how much capacity your proposed backup strategy requires, so recourse to this calculator should help you set realistic targets and plan your cloud or server spend accordingly.

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