Data Center Consolidation Benefits & Best Practices

Written by Shawn Mills on Wednesday, June 4th 2014 — Categories: Cloud Hosting, Colocation , Hybrid Cloud, Cloud Hosting, Colocation, Data Center Design

Whether you’ve been handed a mandate to consolidate your data centers, like many federal government data center managers, or you’re evaluating consolidation as an option for aging or expensive in-house data centers, the process can deliver cost savings and higher efficiency without losing the uptime and power provided by your existing infrastructure.

What most data center managers worry about—and rightly so—as they face a consolidation mandate is uptime and cost for cloud or colocation infrastructure. The employee reaction to consolidation news is also worrisome, as inevitably some jobs will be cut.

What they may not realize is that if the data center shutdown isn’t smooth and the replacement services aren’t carefully evaluated and set up, the transfer process might eliminate any consolidation ROI. Here are some best practices that will maximize the benefit of data center consolidation. But first…

Why Consolidate or Shut Down a Data Center?

Data Center Consolidation Benefits and Best PracticesFor larger organizations like the feds, data center sprawl can sneak up. Suddenly there are far more facilities than necessary to run the necessary applications, storage, and backup. Older technologies may be at capacity, but with virtualization and greater utilization of newer tech, companies can meet their IT needs with less equipment or even no data center at all, when they choose a colo or cloud partner.

The main reasons to eliminate data centers and/or choose a service provider are:

An example of cost savings comes from the federal consolidation mandate, which reported $63 million in savings through the end of the 2013 fiscal year (two years into the project). The Defense Department has also projected $575 million in savings through 2014.

Selecting a Service Provider for Replacement Data Center Services

When consolidating data centers, the immediate question is, “Where do these data and applications go?” The two primary choices are other in-house data centers or going all in on a service provider. A service provider can offer additional energy efficiency gains as they have carefully tuned their environment to maximize savings. Using managed services can also reduce your OpEx, though current employees won’t be happy about it. You’ll have to choose between the opportunity to further reduce costs and maintaining morale.

However, the choice between in-house and MSP isn’t so clear cut. With hybrid deployments, your current servers can connect to cloud and vice versa. Same with colocation. Any combination can be set up for a successful, highly available infrastructure. Use in-house and put disaster recovery in the cloud; use a private cloud and expand to public for testing or seasonal requirements; etc.

Primary considerations when evaluating a provider are:

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Data Center Migration and Consolidation Challenges

According to Gartner, the biggest issue in a consolidation project is politics. Employees worry about losing their jobs. Groups squabble over whose application is better suited for business goals. The value of hardware is debated.

These political obstacles are only part of the challenge. Once you start the consolidation process, you may be overwhelmed with tiny details. Best practices for consolidation and migration are:

More and more data center managers are being faced with data center consolidation mandates from the C-suite. Others are just realized the extent of their data center sprawl. Consolidation is inevitably a large project and unanticipated problems will arise, but significant cost savings and operational efficiencies await data center managers who properly plan and keep solid records.

Posted By: Shawn Mills