The Data Center Consolidation Minefield

Arthur Cole

Data center consolidation is all the rage among the Fortune 500 set, with literally billions of dollars at stake through everything from lower energy and real estate costs to savings on management and infrastructure.


But as with all things IT, there are few right ways to do it and an unlimited number of wrong ways. At best, the wrong ways won't generate the savings you had hoped. At worst, they can decrease the effectiveness of your infrastructure and cost more in the long run.


Since consolidation is such a big job, there are no magic-bullet solutions to make it all nice and tidy. But there are a growing number of tools designed to simplify some of the more critical jobs.


Transitive Corp., for example, has teamed up with AMD to address one of the thornier aspects of consolidation: application migration. The two companies have partnered to address migration from legacy Sun Sparc applications to x86 platforms. Transitive provides the QuickTransit system that lets you run Sparc applications on 64-bit x86 systems without having to modify source or binary codes.


Another major issue is the sheer number of changes that have to be made to networked storage. A company called Onaro is targeting automated change control with the latest release of its SANscreen automation software. The system lets you pull configuration data from the SAN, as well as associated applications and storage devices, and then converts it into maps of various business services, similar to what other systems do for LAN management. In this way, you can keep better track of which routes are still operating, which are down and what changes are taking place.


But no matter how smooth the actual consolidation goes, the result will be an enterprise more dependent on wide-area network infrastructure to keep disparate business offices, remote employees and even contractors and partners connected. Staying on top of all that will require a dose of network configuration management, one that can handle the plethora of command-line interfaces, protocols and device architectures that can arise even when much of the infrastructure is based on a single vendor, such as Cisco. This article by ArcSight's Larry Lunetta spells out the basic elements that a decent management regime should have.


Consolidating data centers is not for the faint of heart, and these new tools address only a fraction of the problems you are likely to encounter. But with potential savings in the stratosphere, it's probably not something you can put off much longer.

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