Monday, January 19, 2009

The IT Juggling Act: How Datacenter Efficiency Can Help Save Money

IT departments are expected to do more with less. Consolidation and Virtualization drive down costs and produce rapid return on investment, greater agility, and less complexity.

Are you confident that your business information is secure, protected, and available when you need it? At DSW we evaluate, design, implement, and support data center solutions for your specific business environment.

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Today’s Challenge

Today, most businesses are cutting costs in order to deliver products and services more cost-effectively and efficiently than the competition and IT organizations are now pressured to do the same, and must cut cost and complexity while delivering highly available, business-critical applications that perform at lightning speed.

In addition, real-time collaborative applications, energy concerns and the need to achieve greater efficiency from assets are driving IT managers to transform their data centers through new technologies.

The Goldman Sachs CIO survey in July 2008 showed that server virtualization is the number one spending priority for CIOs in the next 12 months. Number two on the list was server consolidation, which typically involves virtualization as well.

Server and SAN consolidation paired with a Virtualization strategy is one of the most effective ways to lower TCO of a company's data center. Both Server and Storage consolidation result in reduced management costs as well as significant savings in energy and space.

Strategies to Meet the Challenge

Utility Computing. This “concept” involved the idea that application and computer services should be provisioned in an efficient and variable cost fashion as they are needed versus facing large unpredictable capital expenditures for servers and data center build-out. The problem has been maintaining “state” - as applications moved across servers to drive power efficiency, sessions would disconnect resulting in customers purchasing one or more servers per application. Today with VMWare, Cisco Nexus switch technology and Sun multi-core chip architecture and distributed blade center architecture it is now possible to switch on servers when you need them and switch them off when you don’t. This finally results in the economic use of resources you require – less capital expenditure, less operational cost for energy and datacenter space and more power where and when you need it.

Server consolidation. It’s pretty obvious that reducing the amount of hardware in the data center will reduce the amount of electricity consumed in the data center. But consider also ancillary savings. When you have fewer servers running, you also have less heat output which means that your cooling costs go down, too. If your consolidation project is highly efficient, you might even be able to cool a smaller area if your resulting space needs are reduced. Although the direct savings are somewhat difficult to calculate, reducing cooling needs does reduce money spent. A server consolidation project of any reasonable size will probably yield fairly quick ROI; ROI is likely within the replacement cycle for the servers.

SAN infrastructure. Server consolidation projects are often accompanied by the implementation of a SAN. SANs are not generally implemented with direct cost savings in mind but are instead implemented to provide additional levels of service and availability. However, they can be used to assist in the greening of the IT infrastructure. Consider the process by which many IT organizations provision server storage. Thinking long-term, many people buy more direct-attached storage than they need, guarding against having to add disks later on. A typical 2U server can generally house six disks. Suppose you have a data center with fifty of these 2U servers. That’s 300 disks, all requiring electricity to operate. If this imaginary organization is like most, in many of those servers, a lot of this direct-attached storage will go unused. This organization could implement a SAN that consists of thirty or forty disks and see a reduction in energy usage. Each server could then be provisioned with nothing more than a pair of disks for the local OS, moving this data center from 300 disks to, say, 140. Now, this undertaking alone will not likely result in cost savings as the price of the SAN will probably far outweigh the energy savings, but used in conjunction with a server consolidation project, could yield significant gains.

Terminal-based desktops or VDI initiatives. More and more IT organizations are realizing the benefits of a centrally maintained desktop infrastructure. An organization that has 100 desktop computers can probably be supported on three or four servers and the desktops replaced with thin clients. Thin clients use a lot less energy that their fat counterparts and also have the advantage of being connected to a centrally managed server farm which is more easily maintained than 100 separate computers.

Cisco Virtualization Technologies. Cisco Systems Inc. is launching new products and upgrading existing ones to work better in virtual environments and is taking steps toward a converged Ethernet-Fibre Channel network. Products include Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) offering virtualized application hosting services, greater application acceleration and video delivery for the branch office, the Cisco Application Control Engine (ACE) application switch, offering up to 4 gigabits per second (Gbps) of throughput and up to 2 Gbps of compression capability, and multimedia readiness on a virtualized platform, Cisco's new Virtual Network Link (VN-Link) which allows policies for security and quality of service to follow virtual machines moved across physical ports with VMotion and Cisco VFrame Data Center software offering end-to-end infrastructure provisioning with Cisco ACE and VMware ESX.


- Consolidate multiple applications onto fewer servers and reduce cost and complexity, increase agility, and lower datacenter power and cooling costs
- Utilize Sun x64 servers and run the Solaris Operating System, Linux or Microsoft Windows, and gain the flexibility to re-deploy the moment needs change
- Consolidate multiple Solaris OS and Linix applications onto a single server using Solaris Containers technology
- Consolidate any combination of Solaris 10 OS and supported Linux and Microsoft Windows applications onto a single server using Sun xVM hypervisor or VMware Virtual Infrastructure technology