In Wikibon parlance, GRS stands for 'getting rid of stuff.' There is no doubt that from a GRS perspective, BT's Windows consolidation project succeeded. The most amazing part was the elimination and disposal (ecologically friendly of course) of more than 200 tons of old equipment. The rest of the GRS story is well documented:
- 3000+ servers down to less than 150
- 700 racks at 8 sites down to 40 at 5 sites
- Reduction in energy costs of more than $2.4M annually
- 9000+ network ports down to less than 850
- Backup from four days to a full daily in 30 minutes
- Unused capacity declined precipitously as storage utilization shot from the low 20's to 70%
- 6 weeks to deploy new servers down to 1 working day
The danger in stories like this is that companies get lulled into a sense that technology can be applied to solve efficiency problems for a much wider set of applications than what BT has wisely chosen for virtualization. BT's VMware applications are infrastructure related such as Web, firewalls and smaller databases that can be considered point systems. Over time, application creep into virtualized environments could expose the fundamental lack of disciplined approaches to classification and automation of policies for data migration, archiving and shredding. This is the root cause of waste and data growth in many applications, and users should address this problem head on.
Action Item: Choosing virtualization applications wisely (e.g. infrastructure apps) will help get rid of tons of stuff, literally. Customers should beware of falling prey to promises that virtualization will achieve similar results more broadly. In these less virtualization-friendly environments, there is no getting around the need for better information management, starting with classification and the automation of policies to migrate, archive and ultimately get rid of unused data.