06 Oct Data Center Consolidation

Mergers and acquisitions. Cost cutting. New business initiatives. There are all kinds of reasons why companies make the decision to consolidate data centers. Maybe your company undergoes explosive, barely controlled growth or they may decide to stop, take a pause, and reconsider how IT does business in their organization. Or maybe your company decides to buy out another company, and you suddenly inherent a whole series of data centers that you’re not prepared to handle.

Want to know a secret? It will be up to you to figure it out. Furthermore, you’ll probably be asked to do it with the same budget you already have.

Here’s the thing, though. Data center consolidation isn’t always just about reducing the number of data centers from a big number to a smaller number. Sometimes, it’s about reducing the amount of stuff strewn about the data centers that you already have.

Today’s IT organizations generally buy and integrate numerous point solutions, from a plethora of vendors, each with its own training courses, licensing, refresh cycles, and mode of operation. These point products are the result of years of planning and investments to support business applications.

We hear the same story time and time again. Does this sound familiar? You virtualized about 5 to 8 years ago and naturally a data protection strategy project came directly after that. The SharePoint implementation project for your marketing organization took eons to complete and required purchasing a new SAN. It feels like you just bought that SAN yesterday, but you blinked, three years flew by, and it’s time to refresh . . . again. The decision to buy all of these products made sense at the time, but today data center complexity can feel overwhelming and discourage innovation.

All of this has really cooked up several challenges for IT organizations, including:

  • Time overhead spent on operational tasks
  • Mobility and management of virtual machines (VMs)
  • Budget constraints
  • Breaching service level agreements
  • Operational efficiency
  • Application performance

The list goes on and on.

Ask yourself these questions to determine where you might have pain points:

  • As data growth explodes, can you continue to operate the same way you always have?
  • Are your legacy technologies designed for virtualized environments?
  • How much time are you spending on maintenance, upgrades, deployments, provisioning and management tasks instead of building more valuable innovation for the business?
  • Do you have the necessary expertise to manage each of these products separately?
  • Are you struggling to meet your Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with the business?
  • Are you missing data protection objectives like Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs)?

If you answered “No” to one or more of these questions, you might be a candidate for hyperconverged infrastructure.

Consolidation with Hyperconvergence

At the most basic level, hyperconverged infrastructure consolidates storage and compute, enabling you to eliminate the monolithic SAN environment. From there, some hyperconverged infrastructure vendors make things pretty interesting. For example, Nutanix and SimpliVity both provide something in the way of data reduction via deduplication and compression. SimpliVity, however, takes this to the extreme through the use of their accelerator card, which forms the basis for what they call their OmniStack Data Virtualization Platform.

By enabling global inline deduplication and compression with a solution like SimpliVity, you suddenly need less overall capacity, which means you need less overall hardware. With constant data reduction, you don’t need:

  • WAN accelerators to reduce data over the wide area network because data stays reduced
  • Separate backup software to protect the data in your environment
  • Separate deduplication appliances
  • SSD arrays

Instead, you can massively reduce the amount of hardware and software that you’re operating, maintaining, getting trained on, and, maybe even struggling with. With less stuff to manage and worry about, you can better focus on the business and on improving SLAs, RTOs, and RPOs. You get to focus on the business rather than on the technology.

If you’re in a situation in which you need to reduce the number of data centers you’re managing, hyperconverged infrastructure can help you there, too. How? For the same reasons that we just discussed. Rather than just taking all of the hardware from the various sites and combining it all into one supersite, you can rethink the whole model. In addition to cutting down physical locations, you can also minimize complexity.

Summary

Data center consolidation is important, but you still need a place to run applications and perform testing and development. Testing and development environments are often short-changed in the world of IT.



Scott D. Lowe, vExpert, MVP Hyper-V, MCSE
scott@actualtechmedia.com

Virtualization and storage expert Scott D. Lowe is a multi-year vExpert, MVP Hyper-V, frequent speaker for multiple organizations and Co-Founder of ActualTech Media. Scott has been in the IT field for over twenty years with ten of those years filling the CIO role for various organizations. Scott has authored several books and hundreds of whitepapers, research reports and the like throughout his career. Over the years, he has regularly contributed to such sites as TechRepublic, Wikibon, and VirtualizationSoftware.com and is currently the editor of EnterpriseStorageGuide.com

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