Green is everywhere. We have all made changes in our domestic lives, or at least become more aware of environmental issues. Of course, going green is a personal choice, but in business it’s a must. With the cost savings and performance improvement associated with green IT, not only does it make sense, it also makes a difference; what greater incentive is there than saving money on the bottom line?
Server consolidation is just one area of the IT environment where we have seen organisations make significant cost savings on energy, hardware and operations. That’s before considering the performance and reliability benefits of reducing server sprawl and consolidating as many as possible into a single environment. As a first step to going green, server consolidation is an effective one, making an immediate impact on the business’s carbon footprint and contributing real cost savings.
Apart from the requirement to save money and become greener, there are some natural stages in a business where server consolidation should be a priority project. New applications, new users, restricted physical space in the data centre and increasing demand for data storage are just some of the trigger points where server consolidation should jump to the top of the IT department’s priority list.
There is also the case where housing associations find themselves with a myriad of servers and storage devices, usually from many different suppliers, that have been inherited during mergers and acquisitions. Managing and maintaining these is a drain on resources, alongside compromised performance and increased risks of downtime. And fundamentally, these use and emit excessive energy and are rarely environmentally sustainable.
When considering server consolidation, there are a number of points to keep in mind. First, keep it simple, keep it central, and keep it open. Working with a single supplier who can provide storage, servers and the full range of services will make it easier in many ways, with simplified management and support being the two most important. Aim to store your data as one virtual pool with open data standards to eliminate complexities and provide a scalable platform for future storage growth. Consolidation is a strategic IT project and while the immediate business case is compelling, planning for future requirements is still critical.
Second, choose a solution with high levels of automation to make the IT environment more agile and more responsive. Automatically replicating data to a back-up server not only secures data but also provides application resilience and business continuity. In an automated environment, policy-based rules can be applied to storage allocation to ensure supply and demand are balanced. Users are less restricted and the IT department reduces the time spent dealing with routine demands for increased storage.
Third, server consolidation is just one element of going green and there are many other areas where significant cost-savings can be made. Make green IT the foundation of your IT strategy and audit your environment to identify where you can make a difference. Server consolidation is a good start, as long as it is part of a wider green IT strategy.
Ian Vickers is managing director of MET (Managed Enterprise Technology).