It isn't often that the phrase "do more with less" is literally true, but that is exactly what's happening with the latest round of data center consolidation.
Whether you're talking about servers, storage, networking or multiple data centers themselves, IT has suddenly found itself in the enviable position of having the ability to streamline infrastructure, cut costs dramatically and still enable the resources to meet rapidly expanding data loads.
It's no surprise, then, that surveys indicate strong momentum for consolidation in the coming year. After all, with potential savings reaching into the millions for many of you, plus all the green credentials that go with it, consolidation is emerging as the ultimate win-win situation for the enterprise.
This isn't to say that it is completely pain-free. As relocation firm SIRVA discovered in its recent consolidation, there is usually a fairly sizable upfront investment-in this case a fleet of VMware-enabled ProLiant and BladeSystem servers, plus StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Arrays and related systems that easily stretched into the multimillion-dollar range. And naturally, there was a fair amount of staff retraining for the new system. But in the end, the company saw licensing costs drop some 30 percent, power and cooling reduced by 40 percent and, perhaps not such a positive development for some, staff reductions of nearly a third.
The irony of all this is that data centers are being asked to consolidate even as data loads continue to explode. According to InformationWeek, the amount of data under management is increasing by about 20 percent per year, with some organizations having to deal with 50 percent or more. That means capacity needs to double every two or three years, even as nearly half of enterprises are either cutting or holding the line on IT spending. On the storage side, this disparity is being handled by deft combinations of SSDs, high-density magnetic disks, virtualization, thin provisioning and related technologies.
Let's also not forget about the cloud's role in all this, says F5's David MacVittie. In the old days, consolidation always ran the risk of not having the resources to meet demand. But with additional resources almost a phone call away, enterprises have much more leeway to cut their infrastructure to the bone and then scale the cloud up or down as requirements dictate. It also allows you to reserve your own resources for the most critical data and applications.
If done right, consolidation also has another major benefit: In one fell swoop you not only see a much more streamlined and efficient infrastructure, but it consists of the highest, state-of-the-art hardware and software the industry has to offer.
When positioning yourself for the next decade's business environment, that's a hard proposition to pass up.