Distributed vs. centralized

What it the most cost-effective way to manage your data center environment.

Consolidated data centers that boost processing power with high-capacity systems and save power using the latest green technologies are all the rage.

As projects go, running a data center ranks right up there with big kahunas. So it may come as no surprise that the way to run one or many most cost effectively raises an argument or two.

These days the move is on to consolidate data centers. Coming from a decentralized approach in which each data center was on its own, to a structure that allows consolidation of resources, simplified disaster and recovery and centralized management has been a big affair.

Many IT departments have struggled with the decentralized approach – shuttling data from one location to another, managing diverse backups and applications, sustaining the costs of operating multiple data centers instead of one. They’ve put in Wide Area File Services (WAFS) technology to speed data shuffling between the remote office and data center.  

They’ve launched Wide Area Acceleration products. And, they’ve consolidated application servers from several locations into one – in doing so, they’ve freed countless IT administrators from server management and set them out to manage other IT investments

Some might argue that these tools – WAFS and WAN acceleration – do nothing for consolidation – they simply allow a decentralized infrastructure to exist

But the tide is turning. Companies are starting to consolidate far-flung data center operations. HP for one, has been the darling in the past year for data center consolidation. The company hopes to reduce the number of servers it uses by 30% and increase its processing capabilities by 80%.

IBM too recently announced it would consolidate nearly 4,000 small computer servers in six locations onto about 30 refrigerator-sized mainframes running Linux saving $250 million in the process.

Other companies such as ENglobal in Houston have improved their disaster recovery and business continuity. In ENglobal’s case, by consolidating six data centers to two – a primary data center and a backup one – the company has simplified disaster recovery. It now only has to replicate data between two locations.

But there are other issue: high-density computing systems that use server and storage virtualization and energy-efficient power and cooling systems that make the idea and the argument for managing consolidated data centers easier.

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