Multiple and redundant data centres are common in many organisations. While a certain amount of data-centre redundancy provides for disaster recovery and business continuity, what needs to be considered is the significant cost involved in maintaining this additional infrastructure which, in most cases, is unnecessary.
IBM’s consolidation of its 3900 servers into 30 virtualised Linux mainframes not only significantly reduced its data centre footprint; it also cut its energy usage by 80 percent. Microsoft achieved a 40 percent cut in data-centre spending through consolidation efforts. Hewlett Packard cut its 85 global data centres down to six for a projected annual savings of almost £1 billion. Data centre consolidation, for many businesses, is a huge cost saving opportunity.
What exactly is Data Centre Consolidation?
Data centre consolidation refers to the use of efficient technologies to merge and reduce the IT assets of an organisation. The process involves consolidation of both hardware and software infrastructure. Hardware-based consolidation efforts include using intelligent switches, storage virtualisation, blade chassis and rack management. Software-based consolidation efforts include switching to a single management console to manage several different platforms, cloud computing, automation and server virtualisation.
What are the Advantages of Data Centre Consolidation?
Consolidation means less hardware and software. A consolidated system is easier to cool and consumes less power. It reduces the burden on IT staff, freeing them up to address other revenue-generating projects in the company. Consolidation reduces the scope of security needed for the data centres. It provides increased control over the system. With less systems to manage, it is easier to implement the required disaster recovery solutions. As it promotes process and system automation, data centre consolidation increases compliance and reduces human error, making the system more reliable and efficient.
Where to Start with Data Centre Consolidation?
It is not an everyday task. Very few people have the requisite experience. General IT knowledge does not translate into data centre consolidation expertise. Specific prior experience in consolidating data centres is a must. For successful consolidation, consider hiring project management and technical experts with its experience to complement your internal teams. Once the team is in place, assess the current system and determine the consolidation goal. Consider all the challenges, create a plan and execute.
What are the Pitfalls in Consolidating Data Centres?
- Consolidating data centres is complex and risky.
- One of the common pitfalls is the failure to define the exact scope of the project and the benefits expected.
- Another common reason for failure is the use of the same old processes and methodologies in the new environment, which eventually drives up cost and makes the system inefficient.
- Other pitfalls include ineffective communication, poor infrastructure planning and power-requirement underestimation.
Optimal data centres are not a luxury but a business necessity. It allows an organisation to cut costs without jeopardising funding for new development needed to drive growth. Further, effectively managed data centres also have the potential to be additional revenue-generating resources in an organization.