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Data Center Consolidation

Benefits and Challenges of Data Center Consolidation

Given the growing business demands for IT services, the physical space has an advantage in many data centre facilities. On the other hand, some organizations are looking to consolidate their data centres to save money by streamlining activity and improve energy efficiency.


There are several drivers for union projects. In some cases, the organization has grown through mergers and acquisitions that will inherit multiple data centres that replicate services. 


In addition, many organizations have effectively reduced their IT footprint through virtualization and the adoption of highly convergent infrastructure solutions. 


These technologies make it possible to eliminate unused equipment and replace what is left with smaller form factors.


Rationalization of these services can also facilitate consolidation. This was a top priority within the federal government through the central union initiative of the data centre. 


Federal agencies have worked to reduce the cost of their data operations by eliminating waste and implementing a shared services model.


Similar efforts are being made at the state level. According to the National Association of Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), 42 percent of countries completed data consolidation projects in 2016 compared to only 14 percent in 2007. 


In addition, 47 percent of countries are currently working on formulation projects and 11 percent are in the planning stages.


These data come from a recently published report "State Data Centers Shrink: A Gamebook for Consolidating the Enterprise Data Center." The report notes that consolidation enables centralization of data infrastructure which streamlines maintenance and strengthens security. 


Consolidation also offers an opportunity to present standards for better integration of systems and applications, improved support for previous generation systems and improved business continuity.


Of course, there are challenges. Resistance to change is always a huge obstacle - one that only intensifies when technical problems or consolidation do not meet business needs. 


In some cases, the costs are higher than expected and the regulatory compliance requirements are not met.


To help minimize risk, NASCIO's Gamebook recommends 9 steps that organizations should take at the time of unification:


• Conduct needs analysis. IT needs to meet with business stakeholders to discuss their current requirements as well as expected growth.


• Stay involved with stakeholders throughout the project. Making stakeholders feel part of the process helps minimize resistance to change.


• Plan well but stay flexible. The project plan should identify all impacts and provide sufficient flexibility to accommodate unforeseen issues.


• Documentation of existing assets. In-depth documentation helps identify untapped resources or unnecessary re-use opportunities and any resource gap.


• Cost analysis. By understanding current costs the organization can better calculate the savings that consolidation provides.


• Apply standards wherever possible. Standards such as ITMS and ITIL help increase efficiency and security and reduce additional expenses.


• Expect the best but prepare for the worst. Maintain constant communication with stakeholders to manage expectations.


• Get a purchase. If all stakeholders participate in the project there is a higher chance of providing long-term benefits.


• Report successes. Show the organization how much money is saved and the greater efficiency and security purchased.


While public sector agencies lead the charge for data centre consolidation organizations in industry sectors, they can benefit from rationalization and the rights in their activities.


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