Taxes Take Toll in Tech Too

IT networks harbor taxes in power, license and social realms. 

It's tax time! April 15 is not anyone's favorite date, but as we scramble to dig out receipts for dinners long past and try to figure out where all the money goes, it is also time to think about some hidden taxes. Did you know that your IT network has lots of hidden taxes? Consider, for example:

Power. You are paying electricity, air conditioning and real estate costs for systems that are spending a lot of time doing nothing. What is your average system utilization? If you are in the 25 percent range, you are ahead of many of your compatriots. But before you go and ask the CFO for a budget for server blades, know what you are paying in current (as in electrical current) taxes. Cut this tax by being ruthless about getting users to turn off idle systems. Take a dive into identifying all those applications no longer in use and consider virtualizing your network. Getting the facilities manager to show you the electric bill is a good place to start slashing this tax.

Licenses. License and service agreements are complex, convoluted and often seem in place mainly to keep the corporate lawyers employed. However, if you take the time to read those 50 pages-and that would be a small agreement-of license requirements for e-mail, office and other applications, you'll find lots of hidden costs in the form of licensing taxes you can cut. How many concurrent users are authorized in your end user agreements? Are you able to measure the number of users? Are you still paying for per server costs in an era of server virtualization? Maybe you should just go with open source and forget all that measuring and monitoring.

The social tax. This will make you as popular as your local tax collector, but add up the time users are spending on eBay and Facebook and Googling their ex-girlfriends and you'll find hours of social tax ripe for the cutting. Striking a balance between letting employees have unlimited access to the Internet versus trying to get some work done remains one of the big conundrums for tech execs. In the meantime, it would make sense to set some limits on social networking at your company before your social tax drives you to the profitless void.

And here's one more word on taxes regarding what the government should do with the money it removes from your paycheck every week. Wouldn't it be nice if some of those tax dollars were used to educate the next generation of techies, help the present generation keep their jobs, and fund the basic research and development needed to create the next generation of technology companies that just might be needed to save the planet?

Editorial Director Eric Lundquist can be reached at