Data Center Consolidation: A Strategy for Success

Posted by Thane Moore on April 3, 2024

New, compute-intensive technologies such as AI/ML, 5G, and the IoT are maturing, being adopted, and forcing organizations to provision more IT resources to keep up with skyrocketing demand. However, with data center vacancy rates at all-time lows, expansion isn’t always an option. The space simply isn’t available. As a result, many businesses are turning to data center consolidation as a means of optimizing their IT infrastructure.

Instead of purchasing more equipment to enhance their infrastructure, organizations may decommission old equipment in favor of more efficient, newer technologies or offload some workloads to the cloud or a colo environment. In many cases, businesses are reevaluating their entire network architectures to ensure they can scale into the future.

Mergers and acquisitions may also drive data center consolidation. When organizations inherit multiple data centers that replicate services, they need to rationalize their operations. Other drivers include power and cooling constraints and sustainability initiatives.

What Is Data Center Consolidation?

Data center consolidation is the process of removing physical resources that are underutilized, redundant, inefficient, or unneeded. It may involve server consolidation, streamlining workloads, or reducing the entire data center’s footprint. The process is driven by objectives such as increasing efficiency, reducing costs and complexity, and enhancing security.

What Are the Benefits of Data Center Consolidation?

Data center consolidation enables organizations to achieve their technology objectives using fewer resources. This translates into a number of business and IT benefits.

Improved Financial Performance

By reducing the number of physical resources in the data center, organizations can cut power, cooling, and other operational costs. Data center consolidation also reduces management overhead by streamlining maintenance and enabling greater automation.

Increased Management Efficiency

IT teams are more efficient when they have fewer resources to manage, and those resources are all physically located in the same space. This frees up IT staff time to focus on strategic projects. Data center consolidation also makes it easier to optimize the environment and monitor and manage data flows.

Better Risk Management

A reduced data center footprint enables IT teams to better prevent and manage outages. It also reduces the attack surface and provides an opportunity to update older systems and identify and mitigate vulnerabilities. The result is increased security, improved regulatory compliance, and simplified disaster recovery.

Physical Infrastructure Optimization

Data center consolidation makes it possible to optimize the physical infrastructure, reducing the need to expand facilities to accommodate growth. Physical infrastructure optimization can also help improve security and make the data center more agile and responsive to changing requirements.

Improved Energy Efficiency

Data center consolidation can help organizations meet their sustainability goals. Reducing the number of physical assets decreases energy consumption. It also enables IT teams to redesign the data center layout to optimize power and cooling.

Failover and Backup Testing Efficiency

Data center consolidation can also provide an organization the opportunity to test failover during the equipment refresh. As equipment is decommissioned and replaced, backup systems can be tested in active/passive environments. Components as simple as network telecommunication circuits can be tested for failover and optimized to ensure minimal latency along their routes. 

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How Do You Plan Data Center Consolidation?

The first step in any data center consolidation project is to assess all the physical environments. This should include an evaluation of existing hardware and software assets, data center infrastructure, and energy usage. It’s also important to assess staff skill sets, resources, and procedures. 

The assessment enables the IT team to identify unneeded resources and targets for consolidation. Underutilized and “zombie” servers are obvious targets, as well as resources that are supporting applications that could be retired. Dependency mapping saves time and money and reduces the risk of downtime.

The next step is to begin designing the consolidated data center. The IT team will need to determine what equipment needs to be purchased, what equipment will be brought in from other facilities, and how applications and data will be migrated. The physical layout of the data center should be carefully designed for maximum efficiency. 

How Do You Minimize Data Center Risks?

All data center projects bring risks to the organization. Understanding and preparing for those risks helps ensure the success of the project. 

Downtime and business disruption are perhaps the greatest risks in a data center consolidation project. Careful planning helps minimize downtime by timing service interruptions during regular maintenance windows. The risk of data loss can be reduced by identifying and mapping all data sources and performing backups before decommissioning systems. It’s also important to ensure that consolidation does not create security vulnerabilities or single points of failure.

Your Data Center Consolidation Partner

Reliable, flexible, and scalable data center infrastructure plays an important role in the success of any consolidation project. Enconnex offers a wide range of high-quality solutions, including racks and cabinets, power distribution, cabling/cords, and more. Contact one of our specialists to discuss your project specifics.

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Posted by Thane Moore on April 3, 2024

Thane Moore is the Senior Director of Sales Operations & Logistics for Enconnex and has 20 years of experience in the IT infrastructure manufacturing space working for companies such as Emerson and Vertiv.

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