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The Right Time to Consolidate

December 22, 2005 By:
Michael Trantas, JE Feature
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In today's ever-growing IT industry, business computer systems are growing by leaps and bounds. Very soon, enterprises will find themselves out of space and their IT budgets out of money unless they proactively implement server consolidation.

Sure, the words "server consolidation" sound simple enough, but the actual act of completing a project like this is more laborious than most think.

During the early 1990s, because of the low cost of PC hardware, many companies adopted the idea of a decentralized client/server-based computer architecture. In other words, they had a large number of computer systems spread across a swath of branch offices.

In an effort to gain better control, lower the total cost of ownership and simplify the management of computing environments, many organizations are considering the idea of consolidating computing resources.

Savings from consolidation projects can vary considerably, depending on both the size of the company and the scope of the project.

Once complete, however, the results are clear-cut.

According to a Gartner survey, more then half of the savings revolve around hardware, with smaller savings resulting from staff reductions or reassignments, lower facility costs and software changes.

Change drivers for the management side of the business include the improvement of computing resource utilization and service efficiency, space utilization, and a lower cost of running the IT infrastructure.

There are four strategic approaches when doing a server consolidation:

• location centralization (relocating multiple sites into fewer sites);

• physical consolidation (reducing server counts by migrating into fewer servers);

• data consolidation (moving data from multiple sources into one centralized data repository); and

• application consolidation (consolidating individual software applications into one or more tightly integrated systems, like SAP or Oracle Apps).

Whatever approach chosen, a company should try to implement it in several phases to ensure greater success.

The first step is an assessment phase for the purpose of studying business and technical requirements, collecting data from existing systems and collecting performance data.

Once the situation is assessed and the operator realizes what he or she is dealing with, the individual will need to sit down and design a new computing environment, as well as prepare a transition process. When this second phase is complete, it will be time to move on to the next phase - to test, or pilot, the new infrastructure.

After working out all of the bugs, it's time to move the project into a production ("live") environment. This is always the most difficult part, but once implemented, immediate results will follow.

Benefits from consolidation will definitely differ from approach to approach, but no matter which route taken, the user is guaranteed to lower the total cost of ownership.

Server consolidation also provides a number of additional benefits, including the ability to realign an IT infrastructure with current and future business goals, better foundations for disaster recovery strategies and higher IT productivity.

In today's business market, server consolidation has proven a sure-fire way to improve office efficiency and, at the same time, help the bottom line.

Michael Trantas is CEO, e-Safe Solutions, Inc., and can be reached at: [email protected].

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