Herleman said sprawl is sometimes unavoidable. Some programs don’t operate easily on the same machine, forcing IT departments to approve another virtualized machine to keep programs away from each other on the same hard drive.

With 20 percent of his IT staff cut in the past two years, Herleman said he’s had to become more selective in where the department’s money is directed—targeting campus network programs that will make critical college data available to any employee who needs the data to do his or her job.

“You’re neglecting those strategic initiatives because you don’t have the bodies to do it,” he said. “It might be affecting your service level. … But when you have fewer people, you can get pretty crafty, and you definitely streamline and always try to make things leaner.”

Herleman said the prospect of federal stimulus money running out next year will force college CIOs to focus on IT efficiency, because many open positions won’t be filled and retiring employees likely won’t be replaced immediately. Instead of doing more with less, he said, many campus technology chiefs might be forced to do less with less.

“There is a point where there is no way you can improve the efficiencies beyond where you are,” Herleman said in acknowledging the effects of budget constraints. “I think we have reached that point in higher ed.”