Network Infrastructure: Data Center Consolidation

By Elizabeth Millard Print this article Print

CTOs and line of business managers that support IT are being asked to slash budget dollars in 2009 and beyond. The mantra everywhere is do more with less. In the data center, that may mean taking a very hard look at what capital costs exist in hardware, servers, data storage systems, networking equipment and find ways to maximize its longer term potential through virtualization software and other infrastructure tools. Here are some strategies for approaching data center management and the budget constraints you face.

Exploring Data Center Consolidation

One of the hottest topics in data center management is virtualization, with new announcements about platforms and services coming at a steady clip. For example, Microsoft just announced the delivery of a virtualization platform, Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V, that's generated some buzz.

The strategy was once just a hype machine, but has now become an essential part of many IT infrastructures, mainly because its cost saving benefits have been documented.

"When you're talking about getting more ROI, you need to utilize your resources more effectively," says Jeff Slapp, co-founder of Fairway Consulting Group, which specializes in virtualization implementation. "Particularly in an area like storage, virtualization can be huge."

Slapp notes that traditional storage technologies typically provide about a 30 percent return on investment, and that the number doesn't even take into account the depreciation factor inherent in the equipment being used. But he's seen storage virtualization provide a much higher ROI, up to 98 percent in some cases.

Virtualization also aids cost cutting in reducing the amount of equipment in the data center. Although this may seem like a minor benefit, there are actually numerous advantages that add up to savings.

Consolidation can reduce the footprint of a data center, so a company wouldn't have to explore construction of a new facility when it's time to expand. Also, fewer machines means fewer maintenance contracts, which can be costly when there's a high number of devices, servers, and appliances to service.

Companies can even make some money off their old equipment. There are a number of resellers that refurbish equipment in a way that's enterprise-friendly -- namely, providing data security and liability insurance -- and then give their clients a portion of any profits realized in a resale.

Finally, power and cooling are reduced, and that's no small change. As big data centers continue to consume the power levels of a small town, the need for creating more efficiency is vital.

"Basically, it's all about thinking holistically," says Shalita. "There's a higher expectation of getting more out of applications and infrastructure, but there are so many elements that make up the system, that it's sometime hard to realize efficiencies. So, you need to look at things in a more end-to-end way."


This article was originally published on 2008-11-20
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