Data center consolidation is the process of making your data center more efficient, reducing your size requirements, streamlining efficiency, and ultimately making your data center work better. But how do you do it? And why is it so important?
According to Park Place Technologies, “data center consolidation and migration refer to the planning, strategies, technologies, and practices that provide more efficient, modern IT architectures that currently enable the world’s most effective businesses.”
In other words, data center consolidation is all about making changes to your data center to improve efficiency and streamline operations.
This consolidation can take many forms. For example, you might consolidate many different data centers, ultimately combining their functionality into one, singular facility. You may also apply consolidation to an existing, singular data center, optimizing it to run more efficiently, using fewer resources. There are countless strategies, both at the macro level and micro level, that can help you do this.
The Benefits of Data Center Consolidation
Why would a business pursue data center consolidation?
There are several benefits:
- Higher productivity. Data center consolidation has the power to maximize your performance using as few resources as possible. That means having fewer geographic locations, having fewer servers to maintain, and streamlining efficiency in other ways. Overall, that means your team is going to be more productive and your business is going to be able to accomplish more.
- Energy efficiency. You’ll also greatly improve energy efficiency. Your servers and equipment are going to expend less energy, and you’ll spend less in the process.
- Better security. Streamlined, efficient operations tend to have more robust security than messy and complicated ones. That’s because there are fewer vulnerabilities to find and the vulnerabilities that exist are going to be easier to fix.
- Overall cost reductions. Data center consolidation can reduce costs in a number of different ways. You can get rid of some of your old servers. You’ll spend less on energy. You’ll have reduced labor costs. And maintenance will be easier.
- Streamlining and easier troubleshooting. If there’s a problem with your servers, having a streamlined data center is going to be a massive boon. You’ll have a much easier time troubleshooting problems when your operations are streamlined.
Risks of Data Center Consolidation
There are some risks of data center consolidation that you’ll need to consider, however.
- Downtime. Network downtime can be a massive financial and operational burden. If you’re not careful in your planning, consolidating your data center components could end up leaving you with extended downtime.
- Work disruptions. During the transition process, some of your employees may also experience workhttps://www.slac.stanford.edu/grp/scs/net/talk/ornl-96/ornl.htm disruptions, compromising their productivity and negatively impacting morale.
- Data loss. Though easy to mitigate if you plan for it, there is a risk of data loss if you consolidate your data centers improperly.
How to Approach Data Center Consolidation
If you’re interested in data center consolidation, it’s best to take a phased approach:
- Evaluation. Your first step in any data center consolidation is going to be evaluating what you currently have and how your data centers are currently running. Take a look at your hardware, including your servers (and how many of those servers are virtual), total capacity and utilization, your existing storage systems, and your networking equipment. You’ll also want to look at your facilities and energy usage, your geographic locations and existing real estate, and your software assets (such as WAN/LAN management, help desk services, cybersecurity services, application hosting, email services, and more).
- Planning. Next, you’ll need to think about your plan of attack. Are you interested in removing some assets or consolidating locations? Do you have a vision for what a more efficient data center would look like?
- Design. At this point, you’ll be able to start the design process. What are your new data centers going to look like and how are you going to transition from here to there, while minimizing data loss and downtime?
- Execution. Once the entire team signs off on the new design, you can begin executing. Establish your most critical resources first and consider making gradual and iterative changes to reduce disruptions.
These additional tips can help you consolidate your data centers appropriately and efficiently:
- Hire a team of experts. You may be perfectly capable of analyzing your current data center needs and making a plan for a consolidated version of your data centers in the future, but it’s usually better to hire a team of experts than to rely on your own intuitions. Seasoned experts in the IT industry will be able to find any holes in your current plans, make recommendations for how to make your data centers even more efficient, and help you coordinate the execution of your plan.
- Set your priorities in advance. Different companies choose to execute data center consolidations for different reasons. For some, it’s simply a matter of saving money. For others, it’s about freeing up physical space. Make sure you list your top priorities in advance since these should dictate your approach.
- Plan to minimize disruptions. As much as possible, you want to minimize disruptions. That means prioritizing uptime as well as enabling your team to continue doing their jobs. It’s somewhat self-defeating if your plan to increase efficiency results in catastrophic productivity losses en route to the destination.
- Remain adaptable. Adaptability is always beneficial in a business environment. In the context of data center consolidation, this is no different. Your plans and priorities may change. You may face unforeseen problems. You may learn new information and change your mind. The more adaptable you remain, the more efficiently you’ll be able to address these potential issues.
Data center consolidation is complex and time-consuming, but it may not be as big of a challenge as it seems. If you hire a team of experts to help you evaluate, plan, and execute your chosen strategies, you could end up with a much more efficient, reliable operation in a matter of weeks.