Rich Avila, Director of Server & Network Operations at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB), faced the problem of hitting a power ceiling for his datacenter. There was simply no additional electric power available. As we discovered in the recent Peer Incite session, Rich and his staff to steps to consolidate the majority of various departmental servers onto a virtualized server and storage infrastructure, allowing them to remove a number of application servers and NAS servers which resulted in reduced electric power consumption while adding new applications onto the new infrastructure.
By consolidating servers and storage, Rich now has fewer physical assets to track and maintain. Consider the maintenance issues for the servers that were removed. When it comes time for regular software updates and patches, he and his staff now spend much less time applying updates and patches to all those physical servers. In addition, the administrative overhead of tracking those physical assets has been reduced considerably. Especially in a de-centralized setting, sometimes simply finding all the servers and storage can be a serious undertaking, let alone insuring that they are properly maintained.
Another benefit of reducing the number of physical servers includes a simplified backup and recovery process. The backup environment is simplified because the backup target devices can be centralized rather than having several backup devices spread out in several areas, reducing hardware acquisition and maintenance costs, media costs, and administrative costs in verifying that backups were completed properly and tracking the backup media at various locations.
Action Item: Knowing how and when to eliminate underused assets reduces costs, saves administrative and management time, and is a valuable skill in these lean economic times. Look for underused assets with an eye to consolidating them.