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Consolidation: The necessary first step

Feb 16, 20042 mins
Data Center

One expert shares advice on migrating a new data center architecture.

When it comes to evaluating your approach to the new data center architecture, think in terms of consolidation, says Johna Till Johnson, president and chief research officer at Nemertes Research, and keynote speaker for Network World’s New Data Center Technology Tour.

Since the late 1990s, IT organizations have cut the number of data centers – down from “dozens and dozens and dozens” in some cases – and moving resources into centralized locations. “Our networking capabilities got enormously good, so the cost of linking users to data centers dropped dramatically,” says Johnson, adding that some big organizations scrapped hundreds of thousands of server locations to run their businesses with just a handful of data centers.

“So the problem then becomes you’ve gone from having computing resources sort of scattered across the universe to putting them all in a room together,” she says. “And you say, ‘Gee, is there some way I can do this more efficiently?'”

Enter the new data center, a way for companies not only to reduce the number of discrete IT elements they have to manage, but also to create a consistent framework to hold all these resources together.

“When a server was living out in somebody’s departmental office, deciding things such as what operating system to run were local decisions because it depended on who had expertise for what [operating system]. Now it’s part of a much bigger picture,” Johnson says. “In a nutshell, this is underlying the new data center: These decisions are slowly transitioning from being highly distributed, highly local to being very centralized and made in the context of the ultimate goal of the organization.”

But don’t assume that this consolidation trend is just a rearrangement of old technology for incremental improvements in manageability and everything else, she says. “Data center consolidation sounds like I just pick up this box from Missouri and this box from Illinois and I move them to Ohio. But it’s not. It’s a necessary first step to a massive redesign, re-architecture and redefinition of the data center. If you have blinders on and only think about moving boxes and doing an incremental refresh on your operating system, you’re going to miss the bigger picture.”

– Jennifer Mears