With the economy struggling and financial markets in a state of chaos, this is becoming a hard time to be an IT manager, Computerworld reports. On every here’s-how-to-survive-the-recession list that Gartner analysts presented at the consulting firm’s 2008 conference in Orlando last week, the No. 1 cost-reduction option for IT execs involved people–in the form of hiring freezes, job cuts, or flattening organizations by eliminating layers of management. And IT projects with high price tags and lengthy returns on investment could be a hard sell internally. Storage projects might be an exception. And IT managers can try to push back, even in hard-hit sectors of the economy, by demonstrating that tech investments can make a difference for their organizations from a business or financial standpoint. New technologies that can help organizations avoid hardware upgrades and other capital-equipment costs–for instance, cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings or server virtualization software–also might get serious attention, even in these tough economic times. SaaS is the direction that the University of Cincinnati is heading on eMail, according to Mark Young, the school’s infrastructure manager. Young said the university is close to signing an agreement with Microsoft Corp. to use the software vendor’s Exchange Labs hosted eMail service instead of the Mirapoint Inc. eMail system that it now runs internally. Microsoft, which offers the Exchange Labs service to universities as part of its free Live@edu suite of collaboration tools, will take over some of the expense of providing eMail to users at the university, such as storage costs. Young said that will enable the school to reduce its spending on hardware and systems administration and free up IT staffers to work in other areas…

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