With an ever growing amount of data being collected and stored by businesses of all sizes, the question of how these resources can be utilised and managed efficiently has become an increasingly important question. IT departments are choosing to consolidate their data centres, so as to allow them to effectively utilise their resources to meet growing business needs, without increasing the data centre’s footprint. Benefits of this approach include:

  • Reduced operations cost
  • Reduced footprint
  • Reduced maintenance
  • Improved energy efficiency
  • Optimum use of devices

However, data centre consolidation is no easy process, especially due to large enterprises continually expanding their data centres to meet new business challenges. New hardware boxes are constantly being added to handle the load, which in turn increases the hardware and maintenance footprint, raising the OpEx. Recent research at Infosecurity Europe 2014 found 40% of IT professionals describe the current capacity of their department to do its job as ‘stretched’ or ‘over-stretched’. In light of this, here are some top tips that will help you to consolidate you data centre effectively.

Identify Current Capacity

It is crucial to have up-to-date knowledge of your capacity to consolidate your data centre successfully. Identifying the load your data centre is handling its actual capacity, and then identifying the capacity at the device level will allow you to understand which devices are not being utilised or managed effectively.

A virtual machine (VM) sprawl is a classic example of over provisioning. The ease of creating a VM often results in a rapid increase within a data centre as means of managing the expanding load. This can be avoided by frequently auditing and effectively monitoring the VMs. Similarly, auditing your assets and facilities can help consolidate data centre resources.

Catalogue The Assets & Facilities

A thorough inventory of all assets is essential for data centre consolidation. Effective asset management, complete with relationship mapping, helps identify the devices associated to a particular service. Doing this will allow you to identify any under- or over-utilised devices, so that you can then optimise them accordingly. Furthermore, asset management helps you understand the life cycle of your devices, permitting you to proactively identify and replace end of life devices. Finally, it will enable you to gauge the free space available in the data centre needed to fulfil dynamic business needs.

In order to evaluate and manage assets more effectively, adopt a 3D data centre visual modelling solution which can provide a clearer and more complete picture of the available facilities. Once in place, having an integrated asset and facilities management solution will make your job easier.

Adopt New Technologies

Technologies such as virtualisation, software-defined networking (SDN), and software-defined data centre (SDDC) play a major role in data centre consolidation. These technologies decouple the computing, networking, and storage from the underlying hardware and help you expand your services without adding any hardware.

Other options include adding a converged infrastructure device, which pack hundreds of VMs bundled with the required networking and storage devices into a single rack. These agile and compact devices, produced by hardware vendors such as Cisco and IBM, will enable you to meet your business needs without having to add any additional hardware. Although the CapEx of these devices are high, their return on investment is good; Cisco currently calculates it at 177%.

Optimise Power Consumption

Data centres spend a lot of money on energy, and with 34% of the IT professionals claiming that their IT department’s budget is ‘stretched’ or ‘inadequate’, saving money through data consolidation will allow a more effective use of funds. Similar to VM sprawl, the power distribution units (PDU) in data centres tend to be underutilised. The number of servers connected to a PDU depends on the power unit mentioned in the server’s specifications.

However, in reality, servers consume less power, and subsequently more servers can be connected to a PDU. Ascertaining the true number of servers that can be connected to a PDU requires an efficient power monitoring solution. In most data centres, 37% of the total power is supplied to cooling devices, such as computer room air conditioning (CRAC), and not powering actual computing devices, such as the servers and routers. By efficiently monitoring and solving hardware temperature issues, you can optimise power consumption of the cooling devices by more than 30%. You may also be able to reduce the number of cooling devices. However, this could mean more racks in the data centre.

A Scalable DCIM Solution

The final tip on consolidating your data centre is to use a comprehensive data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) solution that provides IT operations management, asset and facilities management, and energy management. Only then you will be able to gain a bird’s eye view of your data centre which will allow you to effectively consolidate it according to its specific needs. In conclusion, with advantages such as increasing efficiency and reducing operational costs, data centre consolidation is not a trick that IT departments can afford to miss. Whilst it might seem like a lengthy initial process, following these top tips will allow you to manage your data centre, and your budget, more effectively.