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Is the Price Right? Benchmarking Enterprise Infrastructure and Communications Costs

Published on: February 4, 2016

Based on in-depth primary and secondary research, Nemertes has developed a set of benchmarks for organizations to use in assessing their infrastructure and communications expenditures. Based on real-world research data, we provide these figures as a starting point, since no two companies are exactly the same. Before embarking on a detailed cost analysis, we recommend an in-depth review that assesses desired expenditures in the company’s individual broader context.

We start our exploration with a look at the costs for Unified Communications (UC), and move on to a discussion of WAN and network costs, followed by a discussion of desktop, server, VM, and help desk costs. The elephant in the room is the advent of cloud services, which are looking to subsume many infrastructure costs in the near future (2016 through 2020). In fact, we anticipate that the cost environment will appear markedly different in the very near future, which is why we undertook to compile a baseline benchmark today.

We also note that true cost of ownership necessarily includes non-environmental, internal operational costs, i.e. the human costs of deploying, maintaining, and supporting infrastructure. One challenge in benchmarking ownership costs is that companies almost universally do a poor job tracking operational costs, for a variety of reasons. Chief among them is that engineers and operations personnel are almost exclusively salaried, which means obtaining an accurate accounting of their workdays is challenging. In our experience, many dedicated IT professionals regularly work 60-, 80-, and even 100-hour weeks, which serves to keep the infrastructure up and running, but often obscures the true cost of doing so. The downside of this obscurity is that enterprises see less reason to invest in automated and virtualized solutions because the excess human labor they replace is essentially free<em>—</em>that dedicated IT staffer gets the same salary, whether working 40 or 80 hours a week.

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