How to start planning for a successful data center consolidation
CIOs and CTOs across the nation are looking to innovations in data center consolidation hardware and software to help them manage their growing databases of information while simultaneously minimizing the cost of the supporting infrastructure. In fact, Gartner research lists data growth as the largest challenge facing data center infrastructure management and consolidation, just behind scalability and network congestion. Gartner explains this concern, noting that data growth is most closely associated with increased costs, in the form of hardware, software, maintenance, and administration.
To help interested IT executives begin the process of planning data center consolidations that reduces the cost of data growth without sacrificing on quality infrastructure, here's what we've learned from successful initiatives.
Successful data center consolidation plans are based on:
- Accurate inventories – Smart CIOs examine their entire inventory of hardware, software, and data before they start the consolidation process. It may sound obvious, but the Department of Homeland Security notoriously announced plans to consolidate data centers, only to discover later than it had incorrectly accounted for less than half of the total number of national data centers.
- Organizational needs – Maintaining operational capacity is vital to continued success of any organization. For this reason, before a consolidation is attempted, IT executives need to ensure that services will perform at predetermined levels. Contrary to popular belief, it is vital that executives build solutions for now, rather than long-term growth.
- Technology drivers – When organizing and implementing hardware and software, be sure to examine every option. For instance, some companies find that their older or legacy hardware is capable of running modern viritualization and server software solutions, further reducing the upfront cost of consolidation.
Many organizations find it prudent to team with a 3rd party for maximum data center consolidation results. But selecting the right vendor takes some time and consideration.
Quality service providers partner with the executive team, planning planning every detail before action is taken, and guaranteeing their work. As the driving force behind the initiative, the CTO or CIO should insist on seeing cost savings, ROI, and efficiency estimates, detailed project timelines. They should also insist on written guarantees that protect against service downtime, data corruption, and hardware damage. If the organization is looking to retire any hardware, the service provider should review audits and projected resale values, as well as controls to ensure that assets are properly dispossessed.
And finally, regardless of whether data center consolidation is outsourced or performed in house, data protection and service outages should be planned well in advance, with complete contingency plans in place before hardware or software are altered. This may require that staff work outside of normal business hours. If an organization provides services internationally or does not operate with predictable service fluctuations, every effort should be taken to complete the project in phases, rather then en masse. Which ever method is selected, labor must be projected and planned before the consolidation begins.