Consolidation of data center footprints is an emerging topic. This aggregation or consolidation is mainly effective when the business is distributed in multiple geographies and it is growing rapidly. But small organizations, which are not (or only minimally) spread across locations, may not opt for consolidation. So, the decision and benefits of consolidation may vary from point to point. The main purpose of consolidation is to make data centers more efficient and cost effective. Apart from this, the other benefits include: easy to maintain compliance, strong security implementation and increased energy efficiency. Cloud infrastructure is playing a very important role for these consolidation activities, which leads to superconvergence. Overall, there are multiple factors which motivate organizations to opt for data center consolidation.
What Is the Challenge?
Business enterprises face increasingly complex challenges every day. Every enterprise wants to securely store and process data as economically as possible. However, big data makes this task difficult. Servers are under relentless loads which may cause performance issues and impact business continuity. There is, therefore, a strong case for consolidating data centers. Chief information officers (CIOs) tend to weigh the pros and cons of having their own data centers and that of colocation.The emergence of cloud has provided great relief to the CIOs who want to expand data center capabilities without loosening the purse strings too much.
Why Consolidation Is Important
A number of factors make consolidation of data centers important. Businesses face more complex challenges in protecting their data while their servers have to manage an ever-increasing load of complex and varied data. Clearly, the challenges are new and more difficult. The main reasons for consolidating data centers are given below:
1. Server Load Management
Almost every business needs to manage huge volumes of both structured and unstructured data on a regular basis and the load is unrelenting. The current situation is quite unlike that of even 10 years ago. Huge data load processing has been putting severe pressure on server performance, which could result in performance issues and server overheating, which in turn could lead to more serious issues such as data loss. Data center consolidation increases server load capacity and improves server cooling, thereby reducing the possibility of server performance issues.
2. Increased Control of Systems by the IT Department
Consolidation of data centers opens multiple opportunities of optimization, such as server load management and transport of data. From the perspective of the IT department, the architecture is more straightforward: there are fewer pipes to monitor and the dataflow patterns are more visible. This gives the IT department the opportunity to deploy advanced protocols and management strategies.
3. Easier Security Management
Consolidation entails reduction in the scope of security of data centers overall. Since the business enterprise may close down or reduce the size of operations of data centers at other locations, the scope of security can be reduced. This will bring many benefits such as reduced cost due to a reduced need for resources. Since the data centers are consolidated, this enables the business enterprise to increase the effectiveness of information security.
4. Easier Disaster Recovery
Think of the challenges the IT department faces when multiple data centers at multiple locations are faced with serious issues such as outages. Restoring normalcy can take a long time, depending on the severity of the issue and how the issue is being resolved. The impact on the business can be serious. Data center consolidation means that the IT department needs to manage centralized IT resources only. There are fewer resources, and as a result, serious issues can be managed with higher quality and in less time.
When data centers are spread across locations, it is a challenge for businesses to make sure that its IT operations comply with standard and advanced regulations and processes. Multiple IT teams, disparate IT systems and resources always make it difficult to ensure compliance to a single, global set of standards. Consolidated data centers make it easier to implement processes because of centralized nature of operations and fewer IT teams.
Is It Required for Organizations of All Sizes?
While data centers occupy an important place in the context of business strategies of all organizations, consolidation may be relevant only in the case of organizations with data centers in multiple locations. Smaller organizations with smaller footprints may already have a centralized data center. Such organizations may need consolidation only if they expand.
The benefits accruing from data center consolidation notwithstanding, it needs to be acknowledged that the costs of the exercise in the short and medium term are high, which can be a prohibitive factor for smaller organizations.
Government Cases for Consolidation
One of the most persuasive reasons for data center consolidation is that of the federal government of the United States. The U.S. federal government had multiple data centers which accounted for huge energy consumption and carbon footprints. For example, in 2012 federal data centers consumed almost 12 billion kWh of electricity. Considering the problems with multiple data centers, the federal government decided on the following measures:
- Promoting green IT by reducing the carbon footprint of data centers
- Reducing data center cost
- Increasing the government’s overall IT security posture
- Putting IT investments into more effective and efficient platforms and technologies.
What Is Superconvergence?
Superconvergence, also known as converged infrastructure (CI), is an approach toward maximizing the efficiency of data centers while reducing the costs. This is a relatively new area of data center management that improves compatibility between servers, storage systems and other network devices. At the same time, it also reduces the cost incurred on cooling, cabling, floor space and power. When a company uses CI for its data centers, the vendor provides customized, pretested recommendations on optimal use of hardware systems in the data center so that specific requirements of workloads can be fulfilled.
What Is the Future?
There are three trends that are highly likely to emerge: the number of data centers across the globe is going to be reduced and centralization will be the defining theme; cloud is going to drive the initiative of cutting costs and improving efficiency in the data centers and superconvergence is going to be at the center of the expectation that data center operations are going to be centralized and on-demand.
Cost reduction and higher efficiency are going to be the core objectives driving the initiative of consolidating data centers for businesses. However, this is going to take a bit more time because while cloud computing is already proving beneficial, large companies are going to take some time to get rid of legacy systems because of logistical and financial considerations. Many companies are still waking up to the benefits offered by superconvergence.